What was it like to be me growing up? Eye-opening.
It all started around age fourteen, when I began feeling self-conscious about my body. I was always the tall, lanky kid that was horrible at sports but a great talker and an even better writer. I guess you could say, I was a good observer.
So, what did fourteen-year-old Makaila observe? That she was losing sight of herself.
When I was a teenager, going through that awkward stage of life we all go through, I developed an eating disorder. I suffered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. I found myself going to class everyday thinking about and doing things to keep my weight down. What I didn’t observe was that my peers had been watching.
That was when the bullying started. I remember going to class and having to deal with my own thoughts about food and weight, but now also the opinions and judgments of those around me.
When we are that young, we forget that words matter. We say what we see, and we don’t use a filter. Bullying and eating disorders can go hand-in-hand like they did in my case. I felt more alone than ever. I vividly remember becoming even more self-conscious after my fellow peers started making fun of my eating habits.
One day, I was sitting at lunch and a group of girls came over to me and dumped a bag of potato chips on my head. They stood there laughing and said, “We would have just given you the chips but it’s not like you eat anyway.” In that moment, I felt like a loser. I felt like I didn’t matter, but just as soon as I felt those negative thoughts, they disappeared as I began to ask myself, “Am I okay?”
Struggling from an eating disorder is no easy task, however, it can be overcome. That moment when I experienced bullying from my eating disorder, I realized that maybe I did need help. My bullies more than likely did not realize what was wrong. How could they? But I knew deep down that their observations were not wrong; I was not myself.
Sometimes realization comes at the oddest of times. In my case, the bullying was one of them. People often judge what they do not understand. They lash out against others because there is not a common understanding between two people. Bullying is something that plagues our youth on a daily basis, it takes all forms: from verbal to physical, to mental, and beyond. People pick on the skinny kid or the kid that is a little heavier than others, because they don’t understand. No one knows what someone else is going through, especially when it comes to the mind. If you add on an eating disorder to the equation it can feel like a fight that can never be won.
But I am living proof that you can overcome both bullying and an eating disorder.
At age 21, Makaila is a best-selling author of “Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life.” In this book, she shares her own story and personal struggles with issues that teens may encounter such as: bullying, body image, sexual assault, peer pressure, and more because of its relevance in today’s digitally-addicted, fast-paced world. Currently, Makaila is focusing on inspiring and supporting her peers through philanthropic initiatives including: Anti-Bullying Organizations, NOYS, Reel Stories Real People, and motivational speaking. A proud member of the National Speaker’s Association (NSA), Makaila is available for speaking engagements. She works with the youth, parents, teachers, and corporate America as well as sharing her educational and eye-opening talks.