An Article to Explain (and warn) your ‘tweens about eating disorders

How many magazines do you have on your bedside table? How many in your backpack? Okay, once you’ve done that homework, I need you to do a bit more investigation. Look at the covers. How many headlines promise to make you more beautiful? How about more popular? I bet at least two of them mention a “get-fit” plan or promise to tell you a little secret about which foods are good and bad for you.

One the surface, there’s nothing wrong with these magazines. The quizzes can be fun to take with a friend. And I’m the first to admit I’ve discovered some cute ways to style my hair. But underneath the glitter and glossy pages, did you know that your magazines are telling you little white lies?

Studies say that more than half of 13-year-old girls in the United States don’t like their bodies. And most admit that they get their ideas about health, fashion and what they should look like from magazines. The pictures of celebrities tell them what they should wear, what will make boys like them and how their bodies should look. But it’s scary what can happen to a girl when she chooses to believe these little lies about her appearance and her value.

When I was fourteen-years-old I began a long battle with anorexia. Never heard of it?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder. Someone with anorexia stops eating or severely limits what they eat. They might start to exercise too much and to other things to lose weight. And even when they lose too much weight and are dangerously skinny, they still believe they are too fat.

My battle with anorexia lasted more than 14 years. During that time, I lost a lot of friends who worried about me and didn’t know how to help me. My little sisters were scared that I was going to die. My parents cried and worried all the time because actually being too thin is even more dangerous than being a little too heavy.

My hair started to fall out. I grew lots of little-bitty, soft hairs all over my body. Because I didn’t have any body fat, my body was trying to stay warm. I cried a lot. When your mind doesn’t get enough nutrition, it doesn’t think clearly and many girls with anorexia get depressed, too. I fell asleep in school because my body didn’t have enough energy from food to stay awake. I even passed out a couple times, but I don’t remember it.

My family took really good care of me. When they understood how sick I was, they sent me to a hospital for eating disorders in Arizona. I spent three months there, away from my family and friends. I missed school and church; I even spent my 16th birthday at the hospital. Sometimes, I was so tired and scared and sad that I even wanted to die.

Getting well from anorexia often takes a really long time. It was hard for me to try to gain weight. I was scared that I might get too fat. In fact, even after I got well, I started to worry so much about being fat that I got sick again and had to return to the hospital when I was eighteen.

Jesus is the one who saved my life. Knowing how much He loves me is what gave me the courage to keep trying to get well and helped me make it through the loneliness when I was in the hospital. I read the Bible, not magazines, and learned what Jesus says about my beautiful body that He created.

In Genesis, God tells us that He made us in His own image. How can we not be perfectly wonderful if God made us to look like Him?

In Psalm 139, David writes that our bodies are marvelously made. And, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We belong to Him! We need to take care of out bodies the way God wants us to and not worry about the world’s ideas of perfect.

 

This article was first published in ‘Tween Girls and God.

The #1 Predatory Lie

The media’s most predatory lie to young girls is not about their intrinsic worth or imperfect bodies, but the relentless message that the world revolves around the individual. That the future depends upon their personal fulfillment, their abstract happiness, their popularity, beauty, fitness or success.

And does the lie change all that much as we age? Do we ever outgrow the tendency to be swayed by media’s appeal to our momentary self? No, the message need only change pitch to reach the frequency preferred by mature fancies. Suddenly it becomes: The value of my life is dependent upon financial success, perky breasts, expensive shiny toys, worthy ministries, slender thighs, flat abs, perfect marriages.

Whether condemning or condoning, challenging or consoling, the crux of media’s message remains a constant concave assault on the God-image of man. Practical propaganda seeks to turn our eyes and attention from our God-reflection to our self perception.

Consider the tagline of nearly ever advertisement: You deserve, You ought, You should, You need, You will, You’ll earn, You’ll save, You want, You’ll be, You’ll have, You are, You’re not, You can be…

Literally, almost every single banner ad, side-bar, full-page spread or 30-second sound bite appeals to numero uno. Even charities have learned it’s most effective to appeal to an individual’s pride concerning their “selflessness”.

To tie this into my central passion, the relief of women of all ages from the bondage of eating disorders, I believe our most effective strategy is not to focus on rebuilding her self-esteem, nor to focus on silencing the media’s lie that she isn’t “perfect” enough. 

Instead, freedom from eating disorders and all other means of bondage is found in understanding that we are not so important. That God is no respecter of persons.

Ps. 103:15 “Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.”

Doing so depressurizes the situation, the inflated fears of failure, the impending sense of doom if we do not achieve some nebulous goal or evasive success.

1 Peter 1:24-25 ““People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

It is only here, in a humbled state, in a place where expectations fall away, that the broken find fulfillment in the truth that we were made for His gratification. It is only here, naked and weak, stripped of resources, that God’s word, that which remains forever, sweeps over and deposits truth in cracks and crevices, shores up our hearts and reinforces our understanding of our intrinsic worth. 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jer. 31:3

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Pretty Hurts, or Pretty Pays?

Pretty Hurts, or aPretty Pays?

I just stumbled across this article and haven’t even had a chance to view the whole video. But I wonder about decrying the evils of an industry that demands beauty for value, at the same time (in the case of Beyonce) strutting across a glittered stage and using sex and seduction to sell an album. I also find it interesting that this article is posted on a site devoted to the achievement of ideal bodies, yet they are chastising Daily Mail for focusing on Beyonce’s thinness.

2 Things I Would Never Tell Your Child

I’m sorry, today is supposed to be your day “off” from my ramblings, but my dear husband heard this on the radio and actually took the time to call me about it on his way to work. He knows that this is the kind of thing that raises my ire, and that I would want to talk to you about it. 

Just last week I read about the Facebook snafu, the “Hot Mom” who posted a “selfie” (I hate that word) and threw down the gauntlet to all women to reclaim (or establish) their “ideal” physique nearly instantly after pregnancy. 

(Even as I write this, I notice that I’m using an inordinate number of quotation marks, which indicates to me the irony of this conversation.) 

Here’s the second article about , “Mom Under Fire” for the haughty flaunt of her “perfect” post-baby body. Again, practically a challenge to all women, “I bet you can’t do this!”

It reminds me of the playground, “My body is better than your body!” “Anything you can do I can do better!”.

Just last night, I picked up a very interesting book called, The Religion of Thinness. The author makes a solid case for defining our commitment to, obsession with and sacrifices for thinness, as a religion. These articles back up her thesis. 

We’ve all heard new parents says something like, “Now that we have kids we’re going to start going to church and praying over meals. I want our kids to grow up in a religious home.”

In essence, these recent articles are saying, “Now that we have kids, I want the first thing they think about, the highest value of their lives to be creating and maintaining the perfect body.”

Do we really want to send that message to our kids?

Value Added

I’ve been hearing lately, incessantly actually, on the radio about the Golden Eagle Coin. Doubtless you’ve heard it too.

The ad argues, in an attempt to persuade casual listeners that their life is incomplete without this coin, that gold has intrinsic value. But paper money is valuable only because we arbitrarily assign worth to it.

The green, flimsy sheets in your wallet are nothing in and of themselves. We see proof of this all the time as the stock market fluctuates and the relative worth of American currency to that of other countries, varies constantly.

What if we woke up tomorrow and the powers that be decided that paper money is no longer “in”? What if we simply bypassed the frightening run on the bank, and tomorrow’s sunrise illuminated the collapse of our entire economy?

But I wonder, isn’t gold the same way? Isn’t everything the same way? If it were not for the value that we as individuals or society place on any given thing, what good are they?

Why does sex sell? Because in today’s cultural climate, easy sexual gratification is highly valued. However, only a few decades ago, the same risqué images that ply our greedy minds and draw us to dirty movies, provocative magazines and trashy TV shows would have repulsed the average consumer. While today the clip of a woman gasping in the shower sells a bottle of shampoo, our grandmothers would have boycotted the company. Value assigned.

Why is there a steady climb in the number of eating disorders among most demographics? Why are young children getting plastic surgery? Why do 90% of the headlines on consumer magazines promise to unveil long-held secrets of beauty?

It is because we have arbitrarily assigned a high value to beauty (a subjective term in itself) and specifically to thinness. Take those same messages to a rural African culture and their power is forfeit. It isn’t that Victoria’s Secret is the objective definition of beauty, but for the time, for this culture, she is the image of what we hold in high esteem: The model of feminine beauty.

So my question is this: Is it really fail-safe to invest in gold? Is there assurance of happiness in the pursuit of sexual appeal or a beautiful body?

Resoundingly, No. Value is assumed and people are finicky things.

The only indisputable value, the only unmitigated quantity, the only absolute insurance is Jesus Christ. For He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Heb. 13:8