Last night I watched a documentary that was extremely disturbing to me. Part of it was the fact that the girl was so young, but the other reason was that it hits home with something that I have struggled with for years...
I watch a documentary about an eight year old struggling with anorexia. 8 years old! I sat and as I saw her frail little body I thought to myself what on earth could have caused her to do this? Not that it's always cut and dry like that, but at 8 things like body image, calories and fat should not be so heavy on your mind.
I started dealing with anorexia in high school. I don't think many people really noticed too much, but I would have people say different things to me and I am sure that they saw something. When things started getting a little out of control is when a few people stepped in and I then started to confide in a few of my friends. But really in was more of an inner struggle that I dealt with on my own.
All the possible reasons of why it started aren't important, but what is important is that there are times I still struggle with it. I will catch myself counting calories...I don't even really notice I am doing it at first and then at the end of the day I will tell myself about how many calories I had and then I quickly stop myself and pay more attention the next day. Other times I will catch myself "eating" while I cook a meal for the family and then try to justify that I don't actually need to eat the meal. It's there...it will always be there deep in the back of my head. If I didn't have a great husband and if I didn't have a strong personality and a strong faith it could possibly take over.
I guess what really saddened me is that for her whole life this little girl will possibly be dealing with this nasty disease her whole life. What a heavy and horrible thing for this little girl who should be carefree and have no worries...But in 2 years the number of girls under 10 who needed to be hospitalized because of an eating disorder increased by 50%! What's to blame for that?
Well honestly there are a number of different things that can contribute to the starting of an eating disorder. Many times it's never just one thing, but a combination of things. Stress, pressure to look good, abuse, change in the family, media...the list honestly is never ending. For each person the starting trigger is always different, but the core reason almost always seems to be the same...CONTROL. You feel a lack of control in your life and you desperately seek to control something...and there it is...the one thing you seem to be able to control, when actually it ends up controlling you.
Can we really blame young girls for worrying about their size and how they look? What do they watch? Who do they look up to? We live in a culture where skinny is all around us. It's on the TV it's in the movies...and teenage girls obsess over it! We live in a culture where more and more of a girls body is ok to show...but only if you look good enough showing it. We stress healthy eating to kids at such a young age. We constantly have the talk of diets an exercise swirling around the heads of little girls.
So what do we do? I think honestly we need to start teaching our kids early. We need to keep an eye on our young girls even before they hit the teen or pre-teen age. I love that my kids are taught to eat healthy at school, but I think they need to stop drilling it so much and actually start feeding my kids healthy food at school! Lead them by example. Speaking of being an example...Young women and teen girls please listen....
My girls are very young, but they look up to all the teens in our church. They look up to the young women...the young moms and even the older women. So this goes out to you...PLEASE be a good example to my child of how to dress and how to show yourself to others. As a mom I do my part as best I can, but I can't ignore that my girls look up to others. I don't want my daughters to grow up thinking they need to dress only half of their body and that in order to do that they need to really concentrate on their looks and weight. I pray that one day teens...especially those in the churches will figure it out. Your body is not to display to the world. Your body is yours and God did not intend for you to show it to everyone.
My desire is to see fewer girls dealing with the horrible world of eating disorders and truly loving their body for what it is. I want to see more girls get help for whatever stress or overwhelming situation they are in before they hit this point in life. I desire to see a healthy generation of girls grow up..and change what beauty is...to something much healthier and respectful.