Women’s Writes: A Weighty Issue

Women's writes

Shine and Marie have had a wonderful idea. They have called for women such as me, to write, today, about an issue that affects women. This was all inspired by the fact that the Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments bill was passed a few weeks ago in Utah, which I could write a whole post about, but I’ll spare you.

This is something that I’ve addressed briefly in the past, but feel needs to be addressed again is fact that there are still so many women dealing with body image issues and eating disorders.

A while back I wrote a post about my personal struggle with weight-loss. Although I didn’t go into the details about my eating disorder, I was floored at the number of responses via comments and emails from people who have gone through similar situations. I didn’t realize that there were so many women, (and men) who have struggled with eating disorders. I’ve rarely spoken about my eating disorder to the people in my life-much less the people on the internet, but my brief mention of it on this blog took a huge weight off my chest. It made me realize that if I had spoken up about it years ago or had been more educated on the subject- my own situation wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand.

Personally, this is something that I’ve battled since I was about 8. I don’t blame anyone in my life and I don’t blame magazine covers or actresses. I’m not sure how or why it happened to me, but even at such a young age I was constantly thinking about the way my body looked and what I ate.

I started dancing at an early age, and I was always comparing my body to others. I know that it wasn’t intentional, but I did have a little pressure to be thin put on me by members of my family. I remember being offered a new bathing suit if I would lose 10 lbs and being coughed at at the dinner table if I reached for an extra roll. I also looked up to a cousin who was heavily involved in pageants. Everyone was always gushing at her beauty, and I thought that being thin had everything to do with it. I wanted to be able to borrow her cute clothes and for people to view me as “beautiful” too. I wanted to be a size 2 like my friends, and not a size 7.

It didn’t help that I developed fairly early. Most of the girls that I danced with were rail thin and had no chest. I was curvy and chesty- and I didn’t have a grasp on the concept that everyone was different. I always thought I was doing something wrong… whether it was eating too much or not exercising enough. People were always talking about dieting, but no one ever told me that I was normal. Back then, I didn’t have an understanding of a “healthy” lifestyle… the way I saw it -you were either dieting or you were fat.

By the time I was in Jr. High, it was already an obsession. At the age of 12, I was waking up before class to exercise on top of my dance rehearsals. I would spend my lunches meticulously picking off the grains of salt from pretzels, and eating about 8 before I decided I was “full”… and I felt proud that I had eaten so little.

When I started throwing up, I knew very little about bulimia or the various health effects it could cause. I’m sure we touched base on it in health class, but at the time, nothing mattered except for being thin. I was praised for my weight loss- and that was all the encouragement I needed to continue throwing up.   It went on for nearly 5 years before anyone found out about it. It probably would have gone on forever if I hadn’t been caught.

When my parent’s found out about my eating disorder, I know that they felt guilty for not recognizing that I had a problem and for praising my weight-loss, but it wasn’t their fault. If they had known about it earlier, they would have done anything they could to prevent it. If they had known that there was a possibility that I had a problem, they would have done their best to educate themselves on the disorder, and had a conversation with me about it- just as they did when they found out. But the truth is, there is no way that they could have known.

It was only through the support of my friends and family that I was able to finally seek help and put a stop to that particular problem. It’s been a long journey, but in the years to follow I gained over 100 lbs, and then more recently, lost over a hundred lbs by learning to eat right and exercise. Though I still have body image issues, I have finally gotten to the point where I have stopped obsessing about my weight.

I finally realize that there is no perfect, but I am perfectly content with that. I just wish that I had realized it earlier.

The shocking statistics: Approximately 8 million people in the United States are affected by eating disorders, 7 million of those are women.  4 out of every 100 women suffer from bulimia. 33% of these eating disorders present themselves between the ages of 11 and 14.

Eating disorders are rarely talked about because like myself, most people are embarrassed or don’t realize the extent of their problem.This has to change.

There may not be an easy solution for this, but the fact is- it should be talked about more. I can’t say for sure that being better educated on eating disorders would have prevented my disorder, but I can guarantee that it wouldn’t have gone on so long had it been discussed. There are always going to be societal pressures to be thin, but we need to do more to educate our youth about what it means to be healthy. Eating disorders need to be more than a paragraph in a health book. Children need to be talked to about the dangers of these disorders and how harmful they can be.

Talk to your children. Talk to your friends. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.


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  • http://www.blogsareforlosers.com Sherri

    Carissa, I'm so proud of you for being so open and forthcoming about your eating disorder. I can't tell you enough how great I think you are! I love that you're sharing personal stuff along with all of the funny stuff. You're so wonderful and I swear, one of the best things ever was finding your blog.

  • http://www.ishineoutloud.com/shine shine

    I love that you posted about this. I was hoping you would. Rather than throw up or not eat, I chose to just hate myself for feeling like I couldn't control myself. When I was a teenager, I would have thought you were the strong one because you were forcing yourself to do something about it, where I couldn't seem to.

    And that is some fucked up shit, right there.

    I'm so glad that you are free from those chains now. And I think you're far more beautiful than those scary pageant girls. It's a scholarship, women empowering program my ass.

  • ktcotton

    CJ I am happy to see you comfortable enough to talk about this now, you've come a long way!! & as cheesy as this may sound coming from a friend, I am very proud of you! I hope your openness will inspire others to stop hiding this issue and become knowledgeable about it!
    Love you :)

  • jeneypeney

    I knew a lot of girls in college with eating disorders and I kick myself every day for not trying to talk to them about it.

    I always felt like I was crossing a line :-(

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am so glad you have overcome and are a stronger, more brilliant woman for doing so.

  • http://mariescafe.wordpress.com/ Marie

    Thank you so much for posting about this. You're right, more people need to know and be aware.

    I'm so glad that you did stop, because like you said, there is no such thing as perfect.

  • thebacksofmyeyelids

    Improvement is born of communication. CJ, you are a product of that AND I'm enormously proud of you for paying it forward.

    It's said, “Each one, teach one”. Here in Blogland, your audience is large; so can your influence be.


  • http://www.k8e.tumblr.com k8e

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your twitter & blog make my day :)

  • http://www.nikkidz.blogspot.com/ Nikki

    The hardest thing about eating disorders is you want someone to find out, but you don't want them to find out. I had a very good friend from dance and we used to joke that what if one of the girls in our class had an eating disorder and no one knew…turns out, she was bulimic. It was a cry for help and it fell on deaf ears.

    Good for you for educating yourself. I constantly think about how I would raise my children to not have body issues. I think we should get rid of scales. Number shouldn't matter.

  • herding Cats

    I completely identify with a lot of this post. I have never had an eating disorder, but I definitely HATED the way I looked until I was in my 20s. High school was the worst. I wish more people would talk about this issue. Whenever I see my middle school girls calling themselves “fat” it kills me. Thank you for speaking out :)

  • http://aliceblogs.blogspot.com/ Alice

    my sister danced for most of her life, too. by the time she was in highschool, most of the girls in her program were openly anorexic. and the head of the school still came into class one day – into a classroom full of anorexic 15 year olds – and said “we're never going to get anywhere with such big bottoms, girls, are we!!”

    i nearly drove home from college just to rip this woman's face off myself.

  • http://eveningsketches.blogspot.com/ Sketch

    Carissa? Um, Hi. I just wanted to say you're awesome. And your journey through this crazy world is awesome. And your ability to be real about it. Also awesome. And talking about eating disorders when no one wants to talk about it, let alone admit that they are out there? More awesome. Thank you so much. Or was I supposed to type ktxbai!? (I'm not really cool, I don't even know if I did that right).

  • http://edsfunnypages.blogspot.com/ Ed Adams

    Great post and sharing!

    By the way, I think you look sexy.

  • http://www.ajerseykid.com/ brad

    “I finally realize that there is no perfect, but I am perfectly content with that. I just wish that I had realized it earlier.”

    It's really, really great to celebrate that you're content now. I know it would've been great to know earlier, but you know now; you feel this way now. And that means a lot, because many women (actually, men, too) don't feel that way yet and don't think they ever will. Hopefully this inspires them.

  • ScoMan

    Great post. You put the issue out there to a group of people who may never have thought about it, to now think about it.

    I always thought it was something that wasn't that far reaching, but I guess the statistics speak for themselves, so thank you for opening my eyes and sharing your story.

  • http://www.phronk.com phronk

    It's so great of you to write about such a personal topic. I think you're right that not being afraid to talk about it can go a long way toward reducing the frequency or seriousness of eating disorders.

    Also, I like that you don't blame anyone else. A lot of people could get bitter about our society or the people around them, rather than recognizing that for the most part, it's an illness like any other. Congrats on beating it.

  • http://saraswearsalot.blogspot.com/ Sara

    I'm only 21, and I already feel like kids have it way harder having to deal with their looks now. I was just talking to my fiancee the other day about the fact that there used to be NORMAL looking kids on Nickelodeon. Remember All That? There were girls on that show who looked like kids you could be friends with. Now, it's these tiny little girls who have no curves whatsoever.

    I also think kids (and adults, too) should be better educated about diet pills. Diet pills are a dangerous thing, but people will take them for years not realizing that they are ruining their heart. Doctors will prescribe them to anybody with no regard for their health or safety. This is a great topic; thanks for sharing your story!

  • http://littleinsomniaclolita.blogspot.com Andhari

    It must be so hard battling bulimia, you're a brave woman. I'm glad you're better now and I hope you realize you ARE beautiful and your value as a person has nothing to do with how much you weigh.

  • http://bluntdelivery.com blunt delivery

    hey, thanks for sharing this story. hopefully it will speak to people. my bff was anorexic growing up and it has damaged her body beyond repair.


  • http://bluntdelivery.com blunt delivery

    hey, thanks for sharing this story. hopefully it will speak to people. my bff was anorexic growing up and it has damaged her body beyond repair.