child of God, wife, mother, recovering anorexic who longs to see the beauty in herself that she sees in the world around her

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What's her story?

This weekend I went to a MOPS leadership seminar.  There were somewhere around 300 women there, all of us moms. Women of every shape and size, some tall, some short, some slender, some not so slender.  Brown hair, red hair, blonde hair, who knows what color it is hair, and even shaved hair.  Blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, eyes behind glasses, eyes with contacts.  Hips widened from childbirth, bosoms small and large.  Moms come in every shape, size and color.  We all had something in common.  We were all women, we were all moms.  And we were all different.  (The funny part is that the topic was "Same Difference" talking about how we are each the same and each different, and yet that is not why I am writing about it!)

One woman in particular stood out to me.  I wondered if she and I may have more in common than one would think.  She was so thin that I struggled to believe that she could have ever birthed children.  She smiled often but I also noticed that her cheek bones were high and well pronounced.  Her arms were tiny.  And though I tried to not do this, I wondered if she, like me, struggled with anorexia.  I didn't want to judge. Maybe she was just naturally a small person.  Maybe she adopted her kids and never had to sacrifice her figure to 9 months of stretching and growing.  Maybe she just eats super healthy.  Maybe she exercises regularly.  Maybe she takes really good care of herself.  Or maybe she is just as insecure as I am.  Maybe she looks perfect because she is terrified of not being perfect.  Maybe she hates her body and denies it nourishment as punishment.  Maybe she buys into disordered eating.  I wonder what her story is.

According to The Renfrew Center Foundation 1 in 5 women struggle with eating disorders. (Renfrew eating disorder stats) . In a room of 300 women, statistically that would mean 60 women in that room struggle with eating disorders.  In a room with that many people, I knew I was not the only one hiding an eating disorder.  I wondered the stories of those around me.  I wondered what was behind the eyes of those who looked sad or scared.  I wondered if those who looked at peace truly were.  I wondered how many of them were ill physically or emotionally.  I wondered how many of them were just as scared and insecure as I was.  I wondered how many of them actually had it as together as they appeared.

Maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop hiding.  I wonder what the world would look like if we stopped trying to appear perfect.  What if we actually let people know our fears, our hurts, our struggles?  Would we find that many more than we think understand?  Would we find we are not as alone as we often feel?  Would we judge or have compassion?  Would we hurt with those around us marred by hurt from this world or would we take on a "better than you" attitude toward them?  I wonder what the world would be like if we all stopped hiding.


  1. I wonder this line sometimes about the girls at my college, in my classes or in my dorm. EDs are supposed to be so prevalent at colleges, but it's never talked about; I don't know of anyone else having one. The only possible traces are those so-skinny girls, but like you said, some people are naturally very thin...and a couple times in the last week I've walked into a bathroom where it looks like someone has been sick. But other than that -- invisible. I'm not the only person on this campus who struggles with this, but for all I know, I could be.

  2. I have this same thought sometimes when I work with my students. I know some of them will struggle with eating disorders at some point (some of them already use food as a coping mechanism,) and it makes me sad. I am always really careful to let them know that they can be honest with me about anything, and to let them know that I am not a perfect person myself and don't judge them. It's amazing how responsive they are sometimes when you open that possibility up to them. I wish adults would be more like youth...