True Beauty: Eating Disorders 101

Eating Disorder Awareness Symbol


You are Enough.


Today the word beauty is abused, morphed, and changed by this world so that we use it against ourselves and each other, through comparison, through socially constructed standards and definitions that tell us constantly you are not enough.

True beauty is from God. It radiates light, and represents truth. The truth that you were created to be you by God, then saved by His Son Jesus Christ so that you can know Him, walk with Him, and live in His love.

The beauty that this world tells us we must seek, live up to, aspire to be, is life sucking, filled with darkness and hurt and can be fatal.

I remember as a child in prayer begging God to make me smaller. I also wished on my birthday cakes for weight loss, or smaller body parts. I learned from this world at a very young age that beautiful meant perfect. I just didn’t understand that perfect didn’t exist and that almost cost me my life. It did cost my years of quality friendships, years of feeling healthy, and years of mental sanity.

It is our job everyday it look for what is beautiful, beyond what this world tells us because every single person is beautiful.

We must encourage each other, speak truth, ask for help, be real because that is beautiful. It is not just a few of us who struggle with internalizing this worldly and false sense of beauty.


    • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
    • In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively (Smolak, 2011; Wertheim et al., 2009).
    • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
    • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992).
    • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
    • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting (Boutelle, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, &Resnick, 2002; Neumark-Sztainer&Hannan, 2001; Wertheim et al., 2009).
    • Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over 1/3 report dieting (Wertheim et al., 2009)
    • Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
    • The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 165 pounds. The average Miss America winner is 5’7” and weighs 121 pounds (Martin, 2010).
    • The average BMI of Miss America winners has decreased from around 22 in the 1920s to 16.9 in the 2000s. The World Health Organization classifies a normal BMI as falling between 18.5 and 24.9 (Martin, 2010).1012681_10151549559387772_1809037506_n
    • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years (Grodstein, Levine, Spencer, Colditz, &Stampfer, 1996; Neumark-Sztainer, Haines, Wall, & Eisenberg, 2007).
    • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders (Shisslak, Crago, & Estes, 1995).
    • Of American, elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight (Martin, 2010).
    • The rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing since 1950.
    • There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930 (Hoek& van Hoeken, 2003).
    • The incidence of bulimia in 10-39 year old women TRIPLED between 1988 and 1993 (Hoek& van Hoeken, 2003).
    • The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, AfricanAmericans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites (Hudson et al., 2007; Wade et al., 2011).
    • Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011)

If you are struggling. YOU are not alone. If you know someone who is or are supporting someone suffering from a life threatening eating disorder, know that you are not alone. We are all beautiful children of God. Created for a purpose, and while there is so much pain on this earth, we are walking side by side.

“We are Beautiful.”

By: Erin Elizabeth Casey

We all have walked our own journey
stumbled on our own two feet
These very things cause a variety of emotions, fears, frustrations
We feel shame, anxiety, depression,
guilt and regret, hurt and distress

So what do we do?
We hide and lie
pretend and mask
run to or from
We convince ourselves that we are alone, while everyone is….
Streaming through our brains
reasons we are unfit, unwelcome, ugly
“They will never understand…”
“….so different; so broken.”

But listen for a moment
This very journey will shape you,
Give you your passions, your convictions
teach you right from wrong,
show you to get up when you feel down,
foster compassion for those who
have fallen…. again.

On this journey open your eyes
you may feel all alone
We are actually beside you.
We are your fellow travelers,
navigating this life,
our own path.
You are not alone.
So when we feel the shame
the anxiety, depression
the guilt and regret,
hurt and distress
What do we do?
We share; we say “I’m not Ok”.
We tell the truth,
we take off the mask;
We grab someone’s hand and…
walk forward.
I will tell you this:
We will not always understand each other,
all different and broken,
but that does not make us ugly at all.
That makes us beautiful.
“We are Beautiful.”

Eating Disorder – Resources

Eating Disorder Treatment Facilities

erinbwsmileSeeking treatment can be horrifying, terrifying, and a whole host of other intense emotions that you may not be able to identify. But I want you to know that in those feelings you are not alone. The day before I got on the plane to Arizona (from Virginia) I cried and cried and cried. Was I making the right decision? Was I even really sick? What if I hated it there? What if they made me worse? That was the darkness in my head. That was the disorder? That was Satan. For the first few days of treatment I felt scared and hesitant too. Making big changes from huge lifestyle behaviors is HARD WORK. But I’m here to talk to you about it to years later – telling you that it was the best decision I ever made for myself. Getting on that plane was me choosing light, it was me choosing health, it was me choosing the narrow path (even if I didn’t have all the answers). If I did it, YOU can do it. I don’t have any super power – I have Jesus (and he’s there for you too.)

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthews 7:13-14)

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2 thoughts on “True Beauty: Eating Disorders 101”

  1. ” I also wished on my birthday cakes for weight loss” i like the way you put it. we all wish that. Best Regards.

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