This week on Spectacles @ Dusk my co-host and I discussed a story I found online about Irish women’s relationship with slimming pills. One in five Irish women have taken slimming pills in order to lose weight.
A survey was carried out by a journalist named Millward Brown from the Herald. He surveyed over 1,000 Irish women from all age brackets over 18 with some shocking results.
One in five may be the average but the least likely age group to use these pills, 35-44 years of age, is still as high as 15 percent. Even more shockingly, those in the years of ‘the change’ were the most likely to take these pills at 21 percent; above the national average.
Some people may think these figures are low but as someone who would have considered the average to be in single-digit percentages, this is quite unbelievable. It brings to the fore the insecurities all women have about the way they look. This has nothing to do with health because we know that slimming pills in general are unhealthy. This is about self-esteem and looking a certain way and most importantly, getting there quickly.
It also proves that these insecurities are not just for the very young. People always say that fashion magazines and runways etc put pressure on very young women to be very thin and look a certain way. When the truth of the matter is, women in their fifties are more likely to take slimming pills than the 18-24 year bracket.
All women feel the pressure to be a certain size. Even those in the survey who had not taken pills admitted to skipping meals, fasting, using crash and ‘fad’ diets and more disturbingly, using laxatives.
This week in fact I saw a significant portion of a British documentary about underage girls using laxatives to lose weight. Laxatives are maybe even easier to get your hands on than slimming pills and they’re certainly cheaper. In the UK you have to be 16 to buy laxatives yet when the documentary makers tested this, supermarkets and pharmacies alike had no problem selling multiple boxes of the pills to the clearly underage girls.
The documentary had case studies and I got the chance to see for myself what can happen to someone abusing laxatives to lose weight. It’s not that much different from slimming pills and it is so dangerous.
Something even more terrifying is that many people buy their slimming pills online and not from reputable retailers or pharmacies. The vast majority of these are counterfeit. People don’t realise that these drugs are even more dangerous than the real thing. They could be made with or laced with anything and there have been awful cases of bad batches of slimming pills in the US where people have become blind from the pills.
This is all in the bid to lose weight. There is no need for people to think they need to lose weight. If you are overweight to a point where you are unhealthy, there is no need to lose weight. Also, just to add, if you are under the average weight and people are always telling you how skinny you are and that you need to eat more, if you are genuinely healthy, don’t listen to them. For some reason every thinks that if we all look the same we will be happy. This makes no sense to me. If you are of a weight that puts your health in danger just because someone else dictates that you should be that weight, how can you be happy? How can anyone be truly happy, while unhealthy?
What I want people to take away from this is that we should all aim to eat well, exercise at least moderately and most importantly, aim to be happy. Being a size minus-one is not being happy; let’s face it, no one looks good in a hospital bed, do they?