What Anorexia Taught Me about Self-Worth
This week, I'm sharing a personal story from my past. Thank you to iBelieve.com for featuring this article in the hopes that it can affect many women and families for Christ. I'd love to hear from you either by commenting or showing some Facebook love!
My struggle with anorexia in middle school might be closer to your own story than you’d think.
I still remember sitting at that table in art class in the sixth grade. I was sitting with my best friend, and across the table was the new boy at school whom we both liked. We had talked about him in hushed voices under our blankets at slumber parties. We had recounted interactions with him for hours with giddy and hopeful hearts. And we had wondered what it would be like to kiss him – sixth grade style, of course.
There I was, looking at him across the table and knowing how my friend and I felt. The three of us talked about a variety of topics, but somehow the conversation turned to how much we weighed. As an adult you might read this and think, “What?” But as a middle schooler, you wouldn’t be surprised. Middle school is wrought with fledging attempts at self-definition, and weight is a hot topic – whether it is verbalized or silently brewing beneath the surface as an eating disorder. Anorexia is actually the third most common chronic illness in adolescents.
My friend, who was shorter and skinnier than me, was quick to say her weight. It was a good ten pounds less than what I weighed. The boy and my friend asked me several times what I weighed. At first, I refused to answer. Then I answered with a number that was five pounds less than reality. And a new conviction was born: I needed to lose weight.
I was thin to begin with, but I developed anorexia. With every pound I lost, my sense of self-worth increased. My friend was a faster runner on our school team. After losing weight, I told myself that I would be faster too. My friend was wearing smaller clothes sizes. After losing weight, I told myself that I would wear them too and be the one the guy liked who had asked me that simple question at the art table.
Fast forward in our lives – the circumstances are different, but the pressures haven’t changed. We want others’ approval. We want to be admired and respected. We want to accomplish our goals, which often involves an appetite for competition. This is human nature, but if left unchecked, it can result in the same distorted sense of self-worth...
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