She travelled on dark roads
She listened to many whispers
She journeyed with strangers
She stayed in obscure inns
Now Rosie is finally back home.
Rosie as a little girl grew up without a care in the world. She was always joyful and was a treat for others around her. She was the cynosure of the eyes for her parents who loved her with all their hearts.
As Rosie entered high school, she went through some changes as every other girl does. For the first time she began to feel self-conscious about her body. What she thought of her beauty, was not enough anymore. It was no longer sufficient to look pretty for her mother & father. As a typical teenager, Rosie began to value the opinions of her friends more than those of her parents. She began to reminiscence all the princesses stories she had seen on TV & films and the barbie dolls she used to play with as a child. With these she formed an ideal ‘perfect’ body image. She began creating a perception of her body based on the perceived judgements of her peers. Rosie became obsessed with comparing the ideal and her self perceived image. Her performance in school suffered because of her constant thoughts about her appearance.
Rosie entered college. Matters became worse when her first crush(she thought it was love), showed more interest in her friend who was more thinner and paler. Her ideal image was now being dictated by the choices of the boys she found attractive, though she had no way of knowing what attributes did those boys found attractive in other girls. She began making rigorous efforts to chase the mirage of that ‘perfect’ body. She turned anorexic, causing distress to her parents. Due to low nutrition intake she was always dull and moody, there was not a single aspect of old Rosie left in her anymore. She became jealous of her friends and became a recluse.
Rosie entered womanhood. Obsessed with her own beauty(perceived lack of) combined with an inferiority complex, she began to crave attention even from strangers. This led to indulging in risky behaviour and affairs with many men. She became addicted to cigarettes as she heard someone say that models smoke to burn the fat around lips. She became alcoholic, as another person said to her that drinking Rum makes one fairer. No matter what she did, she was never fully satisfied, as the perfect body image is an ever changing target, which is impossible to reach. This led to a drastic turn in her personality. She took an identity of a rebel against society which according to her was the cause for her misery. She made herself hideous by having piercings and tattoos on her body and swore to not follow any social norms.
Then something amazing happened. Well not at first, but what resulted from that was positive. Rosie had a near fatal accident when she was on a wild ride with her ‘friends’. As a river needs a huge disruption to change its course, the accident became the positive disruptor for Rosie’s lifestyle. She was in the hospital for 2 months, getting nursed back to life. As the doctors were repairing her damaged body, she began to self-repair her broken mind. She was kept away from cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. This forced her to confront her incongruent thoughts and feelings rather than cover them up by adopting an alternate identity. She saw her parents cry their eyes out after seeing her in that condition. Her father stayed by her bedside the whole time. The childhood friends whom she had forgotten, wrote and talked to her. Strangers whom she met in the hospital were kind and friendly to her. Gradually, the fallacies of her thinking began to dawn on her. She began to understand that physical appearance does not determine how much we are loved and respected in the society. She began to rearrange the priorities in her life. The near death experience made her appreciate what she presently got in her life. Learning about Rosie’s past lifestyle, the doctor recommended her to get cognitive restructuring therapy to modify her incorrect beliefs.
The accident disfigured her body, but instead of feeling ugly, she felt more beautiful inside. She began to focus on her personality rather than on her physical body. She made herself busy in a work she liked doing and began to love herself again. Later she met her life partner who loved her unconditionally.
Rosie felt good to be back home, comfortable in her own skin. She is now back to being joyful and spreading joy to others around her.
Rosie is a fictional and an extreme case of a woman suffering from negative body image. But there are many Rosies in the world, who obsess over skin colour, pimples, height, tresses. Every girl in the world at one point in her life was a Rosie. In fact only four percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful, which is an alarming fact.
Take a look at this beautiful social experiment by Dove.
If you Know somebody who resembles Rosie, understand that it is a medical condition and they need your help. Introduce them to positive role models and distract them from their obsessions over beauty. Give them unconditional positive regard and help them gain self esteem which provides them resources to resist such compulsions.