Monday, October 22, 2012

My Body, My Image

Today I want to talk about body image. I went shopping today with a good friend of mine (Kate) and her little sister (Ann). I was hunting for modest professional clothing and Kate and Ann needed dresses for a cousin's wedding. I found my clothes pretty quickly and Kate found a couple of a amazing dresses right of the bat. Ann was a different story. I watched as the younger girl tried on dress after dress, after dress. She looked beautiful in each one but she couldn't seem to find anything she liked. Finally I asked her what she was looking for, so we could help her find it. Ann's response was that she was looking for something that "made her look skinny because she just can't stand to look so fat".

That comments and her odd body image (she is all of 115 lbs, fat is NOT a word to describe her) worried me, so I made a mental note to talk to Kate about it later. We continued to shop for another hour or so and then we headed to the food court. Normally, I am pretty healthy when it comes to food, but since we were having a girls day I decided to splurge. I had a wonderful greasy cheese burger and french fries, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Ann got a salad (no dressing, just iceberg lettuce) and didn't eat a bite of it.

Through the meal, I watched Ann shuffle the lettuce around on her plate, to one side and then the other. I felt God moving on my heart. This girl is struggling and she needs help. Finally I think Ann noticed me watching her move food around rather than eating it and she decided to run over to Hot Topic as Kate and I finished our food. I took this as a sign from God, it was time to talk to Kate.

Most girls my age (that I know at least) have days where they just feel huge. And on those days, I understand not wanting to try on clothes and whatnot. I have those days. I didn't want to accuse Ann of something, I wanted to help. So, I asked Kate what was going on with Ann, if maybe she wan't feeling well. Kate's response was, "Are you worried about her thinking she is fat?" I said yes, that she seems to be very focused on being fat, even for the average 17 year old girl. Kate told me that this is something that has been going on for a while. She said that Ann had Kate Moss' famous quote, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" written on her bathroom mirror in bright read lipstick alongside taped up pictures of very thin women.

In my mind, red flags were going up everywhere. I tried to delicately ask Kate why she wasn't doing anything about it, or if she had talked to her parents about the situation. Kate said I couldn't possibly understand because my sister and I are so close and we talk about everything. Normal siblings don't do that. She told me that she didn't think it was her place to get involved, after all it is her sister's body.

Being an older sister I can understand not wanting to step on your sibling's toes. However, this wasn't a case of odd fashion sense or an unflattering hair cut. This is a problem that is effecting Ann's ability to get nourishment and her mental health.

When Kate and I joined Ann in the store, worry and concern for this young girl filled my mind. I decided to talk to talk to Ann about it. I waited until Kate was trying on a shirt to talk to Ann. Her response was fairly typical: "I just want to be pretty" and "I'm not doing anything unhealthy." I tried to talk with her about the importance of taking care of her body, as well as her spirit. She was receptive at the start but at the end she reiterated what her sister had said, "It is her body".

Ann is right. It is her body, designed just for her by the creator of the universe. There is not another one like her in all the world, and yet she doesn't feel pretty. She doesn't feel good enough. How terrible it must be to hate your body, to view it as ugly. Don't get me wrong, I have things about my body I don't like from time to time, but to dislike your body enough to not eat? To think every single piece of clothing makes you look fat? My heart is torn for this young girl. I am praying diligently for wisdom in how to handle this situation now that it has been brought to my attention. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.


  1. That is a tough situation--I hope that you will be able to speak truth and grace into her life.

  2. From experience: Ann's photos and slogan are straight out of the pro-anorexia movement. Her parents need to be told NOW. Step on all the toes. Eating disorders are nothing to play around with.


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