To The Ones Who Are Starving –Themselves

“I wish I could take those years back. I was skinny, yes, but all I remember is being hungry.”

You–

the girl who is starving herself to fit into a bikini

I was you.

Oh honey, I was you–even though I was homeschooled and raised in a wholesome Christian home (I was a preacher’s kid!) I stopped eating when I was nine so I could look good in a bathing suit.

Slowly, you know, just quit eating desserts at first, and then the peanut butter and the jam and then the butter, and finally, the bread itself. I got down to a few pickles for lunch, a spoonful of corn for supper, and my bathing suit, it sagged because I had no bum.

I was starving to death, but hey–I was skinny. And for some reason that was really important to me. So important it was worth going hungry for four years.

And then doctors said I probably wouldn’t be able to have children. They said I shouldn’t be alive, and all my hair was falling out and my nails cracking and my knees made noises when I walked. I sounded like an old person, I felt like I was ninety, and the bathing suit wasn’t worth it anymore.

It starts small. It starts with listening to the voice that says you aren’t good enough.

That you aren’t pretty enough. That you’d be better and look better if you lost a couple of pounds.

Nothing wrong with losing a couple of pounds except that it’s never just a couple of pounds. Because once you lose those, you think, “Well, I’d better just lose a couple of more just to be safe–just in case, you know, so I have a bit of wiggle room” but there’s never any wiggle room.

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And soon you’re so addicted to losing weight that it defines who you are, and at first you get lots of compliments because no one knows how hungry you are.

And then you’re wearing your bikini, but you’re not getting the reaction you expected. Your friends are telling you that you don’t look good anymore, that they can see all of your bones and it’s disgusting, and part of you feels ashamed and part of you feels happy.

And then you’re admitted into the hospital because your skin is purple from hypothermia and you’re told you’re dying.

Is being thin in a bikini worth it? Is it worth dying for?

Does it fill those places, the starving for love places, the wanting to be beautiful places, the crying out to be unique and special and seen places?

No, it just puts you in a hospital bed hooked up to IV because suddenly eating is very, very hard.

I wish I could take those years back. I was skinny, yes, but all I remember is being hungry.

It’s okay to want to be beautiful. But instead of going on an extreme diet, friend, go to God and ask him to give you the eyes he has for you: eyes which say, “You’re stunning. You’re my amazing work of art. And I love you.”

Emily T. Wierenga
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the newly-released memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl benefit her non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons.

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