They Do Exist.

Bodies & Beauty: My Almost-Eating Disorder

Editor’s Note: This month we are sharing stories about beauty, body image, and all things related. Today’s submission was written by Sarah Heinss. So often we try to write off those self-destructive thoughts and “little” problems we have, just because we don’t have a full-blown eating disorder. Sarah does an amazing job of leveling the playing field and challenging us to get at the heart of our physical insecurities. She blogs her way through wedding videography at – Lauren

Every woman has a story to tell. Some women could tell their story with the theme of tragedy, heartbreak, and loss. Others would slap “romantic-comedy” or “drama” as their genre, playing scenes from The Notebook in their heads. For the women who feel wild at heart, they might even brave a genre like “action” or “thriller.” But at the end of all of it, there are only two genres to every woman’s story: the edited or the unedited one.

The edited one often involves scenes from the best of rom-coms like You’ve Got Mail, when Tom and Meg meet in the park at the end. Or The Notebook where Noah hangs from a ferris wheel begging Ally to go out with him as she ever-so-reluctantly complies. Or Serendipity, where fate steps in, and on a very poetic evening in Manhattan, John and Sara find each other on the ice-skating rink. These beautifully edited stories of ours, where we wake up looking flawless and eat whatever we want, but still fit into our skinny jeans, are exactly that: Edited.

The unedited story is painfully less glamorous. “Approaching train wreck” kind of less glamorous. It can get ugly in front of my bathroom and it doesn’t end there. The unedited story is full of scenes like the dressing room breakdown or the morning after a comfort binge, when your jeans are creating a muffin of their own. The unedited story is the monster in your mirror, the fear that you will never lose the baby weight, or the fact that the anorexic women on magazines covers are exactly what you hope to look like.

The unedited story is everyday life. And no one knows how to deal with it, because distorted portrayals of sex and bodies are everywhere.

So here is my story: unedited.

I have an almost-eating disorder, as I call it, and have had this almost eating disorder since I was six. No, I cannot be clinically diagnosed according to the DSM-IV, nor do I find myself today, anywhere close to the dire situation I found myself in one hot evening in September in my dorm on the bathroom floor. It was my freshman year of college and I was crying on the tile floor in Dowdell Hall, after having just vomited up the contents of the day. If life was teaching me one thing, it was that a love for food and a love for skinniness, did not exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Anyway, it was only mid-Septmember and already I had managed to gain the better part of my freshman 15, lose the love of my life and boyfriend of 4 years, and leave every form of comfort and security I had ever known. I was alone. I was homesick. And I was fat. That night was the fifth time I had ever made myself throw up, and am I happy to say, the last.

The last 4 years of my life have taught me quite a lot. What it means to be healthy and not obsessive, how to look your best without looking perfect, and how losing the “last 5 pounds” is not the most important thing in life. Seeking a cure from eating disorder issues, however, is not like seeking a cure for a drug addiction or alcoholism, where you just stop using the substances. I still have to eat.

So the question is, how do we fight? And I don’t mean how do we fight eating, I mean how do we fight the disease? The images. The expectations. The body hatred. How do we fight our culture?

I could go on a tangent about how the culture is to blame for my obsession with weight/beauty, how it’s Hollywood’s fault that I view my bathroom mirror as my arch nemesis, but this isn’t about me and I don’t believe it’s all culture to blame.

Let’s take a look at our own hearts. Why are we obsessed with wanting to become an exact replica of Jenifer Anniston and Scarlet Johannason? Is it their beauty? Or is it something deeper? Why did I believe the lie when someone called me the chubby kid in 3rd grade, but don’t believe truth when my Dad tells me I’m beautiful?

Why is it that we believe the bad things people tell us about ourselves, but make excuses for the good. Are we wired for self-destruction?

Peeling back the layers of our hearts, we are running naked down the streets screaming, “Who am I? Somebody tell me who I am!”

In the unedited arguments, the hurt, the exercise, and the obsessive eating habits, we are not asking “Am I beautiful?” We are asking, “What am I worth?”

Oh my. And there it is. “What are we worth?” This is the question we are asking. This is the question no mirror, diet, sex life, or man can answer.

Truth: The King is enthralled by your beauty, He knows you intimately, and only He, the God and Savior of the universe, satisfies. He is your worth. And man, does He think highly of you.

From me to you, I wish we could sit down over coffee and hash out life together. I want to hear your story and the unique ways in which you are being shaped, but for now, let me leave you with this:

How are we to be good women in a world where a size 2 is normal?

By recognizing your worth. Live your worth. Give worth to others. You are a daughter. A SEXY woman. Seriously. HOT. And God has chosen you. To love you. To hold you. To reflect on your beauty. To treasure the features of your face that stand unique to you. To use you to serve him. To assist you in bringing him the glory. Not because he needs you, but because he wants you.

Don’t be afraid to be unedited. After all, that’s the good stuff..

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26 Responses

  1. jeleystorey

    This was wonderful! I too, gained the “freshman 15” and I had a few friends who had bulemia or anorexia. I tried to make myself throw up on break one time as I had overeaten and felt sick. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but it wouldn’t work. Thankfully. I am overweight and have been now for several years. I know my meds have played a part in this, but I would rather be this weight than thin and depressed. Sad that we so want the perfect body but when I was growing up so many of the women of earlier generations were plump and soft and I loved and respected them that way. To me they were beautiful.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  2. kaleighsomers

    I held my breath reading this. Because it's not about the beauty magazines or the celebrities. Not for me. What are we worth? Perhaps we should all take a class in self-worth. Perhaps that would settle our minds for a little while. I can only hope. I love the idea of being unedited, too. We know the real story, but others? They don't.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

  3. I love you, Sarah. __After reading this yesterday, I started my today off with it again. Knowing you and seeing your story unfold for the past- oh my gosh- FIVE years has taught me and encouraged me in so many different ways.__"Who knows that you have come to position for such a time as this?" I know that one reason the Lord has brought you through the places He has, is so that you can write things like this and pour into a little fifteen/nineteen-year-old freshman like me, so that through you, his love can be poured into many.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:02 am

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  5. Katy

    I love how you diagnoses yourself with an almost-eating disorder. I can't even begin to tell you how relieving it was to read this. I have also battled with this my whole life. I’m a real hispanic woman with the ass to prove it. If you’ve ever seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding,’ I was like Tulla, comparing herself to all the blonde girls eating their wonder bread sandwiches. There was no like me growing up. I definitely gained my freshman 15 and became insecure about my body. I went through my 'almost-eating disorder.' I even told my friends about it, but no one really heard how much I was struggling. With some added drama and heart ache, it started to get worse.
    I found my comfort again in God, just like you did. I am made differently, and that's okay. I wish I could end my story with, I'm a size 2 and perfectly happy. But, I'm still battling my almost-eating disorder and the left over pieces of my heart. However I can say, I'm in great shape and running a half marathon in a couple weeks! I'm so exited!
    Thanks for your article. It was encouraging for me to hear I'm not alone after all.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  6. Tamara Harrison

    Amen and Amen! Great article

    June 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

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  9. Nicole J.

    Beautifully written. Loved that you said the dear King is enthralled by our beauty because He is. Oh my, He is.

    I used to struggle a lot with my body image. When I was 16, I started cutting myself which led down a.l destructive path in which I lost 30 pounds in 8 months. It’s not that I wasn’t eating because I was. But I just wasn’t eating a lot. Thank goodness for the grace and mercy of Christ who died for me because He knows I am worth more than what the mirror tells me.

    August 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm

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