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 clockhousefilms.com. – 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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