National Eating Disorders Association

Blood, sweat, and tears. That’s what it takes to become a champion, right? 

And then what? After you push yourself until you drop, after you win, after you abuse your body and mind to get to that one place you are so determined to get to, then what? Will happiness appear?

Selena Gomez made headlines last week for her announcement that she would be taking time off from touring. The reason? To focus on her “health and happiness.” Last October, Selena revealed that she was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease for which she underwent chemotherapy.

I was ten years old the first time I was fascinated by celebrities. I was in a grocery store aisle, immersed in a magazine determined to look like the women in these magazines no matter the cost.   Looking at these images was not the sole factor in the development of my eating disorder but it certainly played a key component. I struggled with my eating disorder throughout my middle and high school years.  

I didn’t start out as a runner. I started out as a girl who loved being outside with my sisters and going on adventures in our backyard. I started out as a chaser of many things including animals, sisters, and boys on the playground. Being active was a normal part of my upbringing.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a huge part of most teens’ lives. But do they help or hurt our self-esteem and body image? We asked. You answered.  

A recent CNN article explored how we are now exposed to more and more images of unattainable beauty, thanks to social networking: “Before social networks, we mostly had images of impossibly perfect celebrities. We would pass these images on billboards, watch them on TV, flip through them in magazines, but we weren't sitting around staring at them for hours every day.”

Feeling confident can come easily when we put on our favorite shirt or wear those jeans that make our butt look fabulous. However, it is often hard to say the same when we remove those articles of clothing before showering and get a look at ourselves in the mirror. I can relate. I have put on a bikini only once in the past two and a half years because of the constant battles I have with the way I look out of clothes. 

When I was struggling with my own eating disorder it became very clear to me that not a lot of people understood what I was going through, and when I was brave enough to talk about my illness, I felt insecure because of the stigma that having an eating disorder brought. There was a time I didn’t believe recovery would be possible for me. When I felt isolated and alone, I turned to NEDA for the encouragement to keep going when things got tough.

I firmly believe in the power of sharing our stories — it creates trust, openness, and genuine connection in a community of people who, more often than not, feel isolated and alone. When we see something with which we can relate to in another, we are more likely to connect with and learn from that person. I also believe that change cannot happen when we are completely comfortable, which is why I encourage leaning into that uncomfortability — both in their recovery and in life.

High school gym class: unfortunately, we’ve all been there. The smelly uniforms and overly competitive students were bad, but the unhealthy and unhelpful lessons many take away are far worse. Gym teachers (sometimes because of requirements by the state) often run their classes in ways that can damage students’ self-esteem. In large part, this is a result of outdated and inaccurate measures of “health.” 

High school can be a difficult enough place on its own, and it can be an even bigger minefield when you or a friend is struggling with an eating disorder.  On the flip side, this can help to inform the school administration of your concerns and encourage meaningful change. Below is a template that you can modify and send to principals, teachers, and/or guidance counselors who you think can assist you.  This is merely an example and should be edited to meet your school’s specific needs. 

Dear                     ,