Death of Sridevi has led to speculation that film star’s obsession with slimming pills might have contributed to her death.
As the country tries to come to terms with the harsh reality of losing their first female superstar — Sridevi, a question arises as to how such a fit star who didn’t look a day over 35 died of a cardiac arrest. Latest forensic reports claim it was death due to drowning with traces of alcohol in her blood. Rumours are also making the rounds that she had cosmetic work done on her, and this might have been the cause. In general as well, with many stars confirming the constant need to look good all the time, we wonder whether it is worth the dangers of such interventions? Celebrities who have to face the camera deal with a lot of pressure put on them to look younger and slimmer. Hence, they resort to taking drastic measures, be it crash dieting, starvation, etc. This takes a toll on their bodies as well as mental well-being. We find out what experts think.
The key to living a fulfiling life is to accept the fact that everyone ages and to age gracefully. Actress Samyuktha Hornad says, “Superstar, actors or celebrities become what they are because they want to, and the reason why people follow them is because they look it. It is important for everybody to keep up with their image. There is a lot of pressure for actors to look a particular way. You are supposed to have a sense of mystery around you, looked up to at all times. It is a lot of pressure, and it takes a toll on mental health. Everyone, not just celebrities, are careful about how they look. They want to look a particular way. I think it’s a part of the game and one needs to handle such pressures properly. Age happens and people need to accept the fact that they will look different. I think one can look beautiful at any age, if you love yourself. I think you need friends and people around you who encourage you to be yourself. There are actors who are very comfortable with how they look. They have the ‘take it leave it ‘attitude.”
Going overboard with diet and exercise can ultimately prove to be fatal for people who are not careful. Nutritionist Ryan Fernando, “Women have a higher pre-disposition to heart disease. When a woman dies much earlier in age, the key reason will be stress on the heart. Stress on the heart can be due to hectic schedule, crash diet, fat burners and underline genetic issues that have not been identified. When you put a combination of these, it depends on how a common man or a filmstar deals with such issues, and suddenly collapses. In the case of film stars, when aesthetics are involved, there is lot of starvation and crash dieting involved. During this period, one will lose weight but the human body undergoes additional stress. You will lose three to five kg quickly due to stored body water. During crash dieting, sugar level drops and blood pressure goes up. People who crash diet tend to be dehydrated as well. The liver and kidney are forced to produce a greater amount of metabolic toxins as one is not eating a balanced diet. As a result there is a stress on the body and a person with a weaker heart succumbs. But what may not be there in public domain is the use of steroids and fat burners on a hormonal bases. These have side-effects that may load the liver and kidneys, and in worst case scenarios are fatalities due to heart stress. I don’t believe someone who is 54 who had the best medical care available could suddenly collapse. There would be some underlying condition that forced her into that direction. I suspect that keeping up with schedules, hectic lifestyle would be a factor. I would not rule out crash diet or fat burners as a reason.”
Cosmetic surgeries are not bad but the key is to know what to do when, and when to stop. Dr Chytra Anand says, “I think when we look at a common person versus someone who is always in front of the camera, they are two different people. Their job, their whole persona is to look their best. And they need to do what it takes to look their best. At the same time, they need to be cautious about how far they go. Cosmetic surgery is not drastic as it is just improvising a feature. There is no harm in doing a rhinoplasty or liposuction, but the danger is when you keep doing it, and don’t know when to stop. Excess of anything is bad. These icons are revered by millions because of their persona. If they didn’t look their best, they wouldn’t be number one. The key is knowing when to do what, and then stop. Diet pills and crash dieting are the worst. Cardiac arrest happens when there is too much stress on the body. Multiple surgeries or diet pills that have side-effects can take a toll on the internal system. Film stars never have a moment of privacy. There is mental stress to be on top. There are a culmination of many factors.”
Loving oneself and being who you are is key to leading a healthy life. Psychologist Priyanka MB says, “We are all trained to think about what others think of us. We are so bothered about judgment that we fail to look at ourselves. We are raised in a culture which says listen to what others are saying. It is so ingrained, there is very low focus on who we are as individuals. That leads to low self-esteem. We are looking at the basic needs of acceptance, being liked, even on Facebook. When we put up a picture, the first thing we look for are the number of likes.”
“Technology and social media is moving us towards being liked and accepted in the wrong way and not for who we are as individuals. Appearance and packaging has become the most common marketing strategy now. Grooming reflects the person you are, not your qualities. And this creates a lot of chaos in society. I think believing in yourself, loving yourself and being who you are and not what people want you to be, helps lead a fulfiling healthy life,” she adds.