Lake Effect Series: An Age So Young
Note from Hollie: This beautiful story was submitted by Kristin. It is so hard to come to terms with how early poor image can begin and develop into an eating disorder. Thank you for sharing Kristin. If you have been following the last month and a half then you know I am raising money for my next goal race. The race is close to 1 month away and I am desperately needing more donations. I have just reached 1045/2000. Speaking of donations, I have been in contact with a few companies that are willing to send products for a giveaway linked with donating. I’ll be hosting a giveaway the final week beforehand (February 16-22). If you donate you will automatically be entered to win some pretty cool stuff! If you or your company would like to be apart of this please send me an email.
Anything you can donate truly helps, whether it’s donating, retweeting, sharing on facebook or with friends, it only takes one person to make a difference. I am also still taking submissions if you are interested in sharing your story. I am hoping to receive about 10 more stories so please don’t hesitate to email me. No story is too short, too long, to vivid or to vague. Thank you everyone for your continuous support!
Like many life-defining moments, it’s hard to say exactly when my eating disorder began. I could tell you about being in first grade and suddenly becoming painfully aware that I was not built like the other tiny girls, with their knobby knees and their stick-like limbs. I could recount trying to play on the seesaw and always just sitting on the ground, my chubby little thighs much heavier than the other girls up in the air.
I could tell you about middle school and being desperate to look like everyone else. I could tell you my overwhelming sadness over being called Fatso and Tubby and not attracting the attention of the middle school boys. I could tell you about my first attempts to purge my meals and the guidance counselor’s treatment of weighing me in front of all my friends. I do know for sure the moment I realized it was out of control. I was studying abroad in Australia and had been panicked about gaining weight while I was there, so I cut my calories down to 1000 and added an extra hour of workout time (now 3, up from 2). My friend expressed concern over my weight loss, and I was shocked to stand in front of a full length mirror and count all of my ribs. I saw my stick like limbs and I thought of falling asleep at 7:30 every night and being freezing cold all the time. I thought of waking up in a panic because I had dreamed about eating and thought it was real. I thought of the period I hadn’t had in 4 years. I knew then that this desire to be thin at all costs had in fact cost me dearly.
It was a hard fight to get back to health. It took a diagnosis of eating disorder not otherwise specified (I was technically not thin enough to be considered anorexic-95 lbs at 5 foot 4). It took months of hysterically crying at therapy, because even though I swore I’d do anything to get better, the idea of drinking 3 Ensures a day on top of eating twice as much as I was used to was terrifying. Ultimately it took meeting my now-husband and realizing that I loved him more than I loved being thin, and a relationship of watching me eat salads and spend all day at the gym was not one that would last.
Although I can’t tell you for sure when it started, I can tell you the moment I knew it would end. I was standing in front of a mirror 3 months after giving birth staring at my stretch marks and muffin top, lamenting the loss of my pre-pregnancy body. I looked down to see my infant daughter staring up at me. I knew then that I had to change for good or I was dooming her to a life of counting calories and fat grams, of constantly comparing her waist size to the other girls around her.
I can’t say now that it’s completely over. I still sometimes feel an icy hand on my ankle pulling me to stare in the mirror at my hips. I still can hear a whisper in my ear saying “you’re not thin enough. You ate too much. You didn’t run enough.” But I can say that today I am much, much better than I was 10 years ago. The numbers I fixate on are not my weight, but the length of my last run pushing a double stroller (6 miles), my marathon PR (3:35) and my goal time for my next race (1:29 half marathon).
If you are where I was, know that with God’s strength it can end. You will one day have a life that doesn’t revolve around food and exercise. There is a great world beyond your mirror.
Question for you: Have you ever noticed younger children comparing body image, asking about their own bodies, ect?
For me (Hollie), I have worked in the elementary and middle school (when observing for my education major) and saw many children comparing body images at the 4-5th grade level. I was aware of myself of that age but I feel the pressures of society are much stronger then 15 years ago. It really pulls at my heart.