This is for anyone out there fighting or any survivor out there

This is my way of showing awareness for anyone who is going through an eating disorder. This is also for the survivors of eating disorders like myself. I want to share with everyone my beliefs and help fight a stigma. I want this world to change for the better. Society has blinded us for decades. We can’t let that stop us. We should start fighting and making a difference for the younger generations. We should make them feel safe in their own skin. So here are my thoughts on eating disorders.

Eating Disorders:

We have all taken health classes in middle school and high school. We briefly touch on mental disorders and illnesses. I personally believe we should talk about these disorders and illnesses just like we talk about adolescence in high school. Many children and teens suffer from these disorders while in school. If we talk about these disorders and illnesses like we do sex, children and teens will feel more comfortable at school. Children and teens would probably be more open with parents and counselors at school.

Let’s take a look at different eating disorders that are out there:

  • Anorexia: Anorexia is an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about weight and what they eat.
  • Bulimia: Bulimia is a serious eating disorder marked by binging, followed by methods to avoid weight gain.
  • Binge Eating: Binge eating is where someone eats in large quantities of food.
  • Purging: Purging is self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives etc.

All of these disorders have become common in the past few years. More than 200,000 US cases per year. Everyone starts at a young age. The most common ages for these disorders to develop are 14 years old through 60 years old. The gender that is most common to develop these disorders is females.

Why Do People Do This to Themselves:

Eating disorders are more common in females than males. That doesn’t mean this article is all about the females. I am writing this for anyone and everyone who is suffering from a disorder. Or for anyone that is recovering from a disorder like this. Now, let’s talk about why people may choose to do this to themselves.

  • Attention: Some people do this for attention. Maybe they are an only child and their parents don’t pay much attention to them. Maybe they didn’t get their way. Maybe their parents work too much and they just don’t care about what their child is doing. It could also be doubt. Maybe they have doubt in their looks. Maybe they just love compliments.
  • Fitting In: When you are in middle school and high school cliques start to form. You have your jocks, nerds, preps, loners and stoners. Your jocks are where most males would probably go through these disorders. They may want to fit in with the jocks and lose weight to make it on a sports team. Your preps are where most girls will try to fit in and go through these disorders. Many girls believe that they should look like them. They believe that being a cheerleader is everything. They believe that having the new trends matter. For both genders, it is already hard to fit in. Some kids are rich and they get everything they want. Kids that have less will notice this and question everything their parents do. All these kids want to do is fit in.
  • Society: In today’s society the image is changing. We let society control our self-esteem. We used to see thin models walking down runways. You could see their bones and they could wear a size 0. Agencies used to put these girls on ‘diets’ that would keep them this skinny. It was unacceptable. Then the Kardashians came into the picture. It was big butts, big breasts, small waists and thigh gaps. That is what we believe a sexy woman looked like. Plastic surgery is not a brilliant idea. You are tearing up your whole body that you were given. You can work on your body without the surgery. Now, you see that models come in all shapes, sizes, colors and genders are acceptable. Never let society tell you that you can’t be comfortable in your own skin.

How Do You Know If Someone has an Eating Disorder?

Symptoms of Anorexia:

  • Emaciation.
  • Unwillingness to maintain a normal weight and tirelessly striving for thinness.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Loss of menstrual periods in females.
  • Severely restricted diet.
  • Distorted body image.

Symptoms of Bulimia:

  • Thinning of bones. (Known as osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • Brittle nails and hair.
  • Anemia, weakness and muscle wasting.
  • Severe constipation.
  • Slowed breathing and pulse.
  • Dry, yellowish skin.
  • Fine hair growth all over the body.
  • Feeling cold all the time.
  • Feeling tired all the time.

If you know anyone suffering from eating disorders, please step up to the plate to help them. Don’t let them suffer to the point that these symptoms start becoming apparent. These illnesses can lead to death. These illnesses should be taken seriously. So please step up and helped your loved ones who are suffering.

How Can You Help:

  • Educate yourself about the disorder: Before you say anything to a loved one about a disorder or illness, you need to educate yourself. Take some time to look up the symptoms and learn about what the disorder or illness will do to them if you don’t help.
  • Talk to your loved one: Sit your loved one down and talk to them. Don’t be too blunt and don’t beat around the bush. Slowly and gradually ease into the conversation about what they are going through.
  • Tell them you care about what they are going through: Let your loved one know that you care. Let them know that you will be there for them every step of the way of their recovery. Tell them how much it will mean to you and to them about their health. Let them know that you took time out of your day just look up ways to help them. They will truly appreciate everything that you have done to help them. And always make sure you tell them how much you love them.
  • Have a treatment resource available (counselor’s phone number.): Have anything handy to show them. Take down numbers of clinics, counselors etc. Be sure you research all of the places that you give them. Make sure you chose some of the best places. You could even take a tour to see what it’s like there before or after you talk to your loved one.
  • Talk to schools about making these topics a main point in lessons in health class: If you have a child that is going through a disorder or illness, take it up with your community and school board. I know a lot of older generations believe that it is a sin to have these issues, but we need to make it a topic to talk about. Talk to your community about what is happening behind closed doors and at school. At school, parents don’t have control of their children. They don’t know what happens there, unless their child is open with them. Talk to the school board about teaching children and teens about awareness of disorders and illnesses. Make your whole community aware of what is going on with children and teens. Make your community helpful to those in need.

My Experience:

The first time I ever dealt with these disorders, it was scary. When you start thinking about doing these kinds of things to your body is awful. You are taught right from wrong. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you do it anyway. I would make myself purge and binge.

I was in middle school when it first started happening. We were on summer break going into 8th grade. I had a very low self-esteem. I remember wearing hoodies and jeans. I would always wear baggy clothes because I didn’t like my body. I was picked on for what I would wear. I didn’t know how to do make-up yet either. But honestly, I was going through puberty and I felt out of place. Everyone feels like that in these stages of life. I was technically a nobody throughout my years in school. I saw girls who were tall and thin. I saw girls that were tan and pretty. I wanted to be like them. Granted, I knew I was never going to be tall. I knew I wanted to be thin, tan and pretty.

So while I was on summer break going into 8th grade, I started to binge and purge. Some nights I would eat a lot and then make myself sick. Some days, I just made myself throw up. My family would notice here and there, but never questioned it. My friends didn’t really pay attention either.

When I eventually got into high school, I stopped doing it. I wanted to be the best student because I knew everything counted on me. I needed good grades. I needed to be smart. Then a lot of stuff started to happen to me in my life. Eventually, I was done with puberty. I was learning a lot about myself and my body. I had to accept that.

I wanted to be thinner. I wanted to be prettier. I wanted to be all of these things. I learned what my body had in store for me. I sat myself down in front of my mirror in sweat pants, a t-shirt and no make-up. I may not be as thin as I wish to be, I am still curvy. I may not be the best make-up but at least I can still put it on. I may not be the best hair stylist but at least I knew the difference between a curling iron and a straightening iron. I have thick thighs and big butt. I have long hair and small breasts. I have oddly shaped knees and feet. I have little hands and little feet. I have my mother’s eyes. But I have a great body. I have the ability to keep myself fit, healthy and happy.

I am a survivor of many things. I have survived depression and anxiety. I have survived letting go of people and of grudges I’ve held. Even when I got knocked down, I stood back up. I knew I had to keep going because I had a purpose. We all have a purpose. Hurting yourself and tearing yourself down to be something you are not is not worth it. You should sit back and look in the mirror. What do you see? What could you do differently? What will make you happy? What are your dreams? What are your goals in life? You have all the potential in the world. You are capable of achieving your goals and dreams. You are a fantastic human being on this earth. If you end it now, what will be your purpose? You can do this. Stand up and look in that mirror. Believe that you are beautiful and worthy. Stay Strong. Never let society tear you apart from who you are. Love yourself because I love you. Believe in yourself because I believe in you.



Ways to Raise Awareness for Eating Disorders by Kari Michelle Johnson was featured on the Odyssey on June 5, 2017. For more articles like this one, check her out at