I just read some disturbing news: about 8 million women in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. The most upsetting part about this “fact” is that those are only the reported cases. There must be millions more suffering in silence and a slough of others toying with the idea of starving themselves or purging their bodies for the “ideal” body. Women who seem strong, beautiful, fabulous, while at the same time nearly killing themselves to be what they think everyone else wants them to be. Women who don’t know who they can turn to for help because even though we’re expected to be ultra-skinny, eating disorders are shameful and embarrassing.

It may seem easy for me to sit here on my pedestal and look down on all of those who suffer from these awful diseases, but recently I have found myself becoming a product of the ultra-skinny syndrome.

See I never had a problem with my weight. I used to be 164 pounds and totally content with my body. All of my friends envied my self-confidence and some even envied the fact that a “fat girl” could get men. I once saw a journal entry written by a close friend of mine that said, “I don’t understand why guys always like Becca. How does Donald stay with her when she’s so fat?” Yes, it really did say that. But I was totally fine. Yeah, it hurt my feelings, but I wasn’t going to go on a diet just because she was insecure.

Then something happened: I got skinny.

No I’m not bone thin, but losing forty pounds is pretty impressive and I did it without even trying. I mention the not trying part because I didn’t realize how thin I had gotten and because I didn’t lose weight because I thought I was fat. It happened because I was poor and I changed my eating habits. I couldn’t afford to eat out all the time and I couldn’t afford junk food. And I did it when I was away from home for an extended period of time.

When I returned home I came to the sudden and abrupt realization that all of my friends and family had always thought I had a weight problem, even though I had been perfectly happy with myself.

People would not even recognize me at first and then they would do it. They’d say, “Wow you look so much BETTER!” or “I can’t believe HOW MUCH weight you’ve lost.” or “You’re so thin now, what’d you do.” or “I can’t believe HOW GOOD you look.” I know people were just being polite, and were excited for me but all of that talk about my weight has given me a huge complex about it. I never realized what a huge difference a little bit of weight can make and I never realized how much everyone else really pays attention to it.

Now I’ve begun putting a few pounds on and it has totally freaked me out because I can just picture people asking me what happened. I’m ashamed to admit it because it sounds so shallow and silly, but in today’s society there is a lot of pressure on women to be and act a certain way. Those stereotypes are SO unachievable if you can’t afford your own personal nutritionist and exercise instructor.

I can almost guarantee that every woman I know has gone through a body image crisis at some point in their life, whether it became unhealthy is just a matter of where they were in their lives at the time.

I just wanted to put this out there for the girls in my life who I know struggle to maintain the facade for all of us. I think you are all beautiful and you don’t have to be anything but you. I know how cheesy that sounds, but I am serious. After facing my own demons these past few days (steph, sofia you know what I’m talking about), I finally understand where people who suffer from these eating disorders are coming from. I wish every woman could be strong and have a huge support network to be there for them like I do because it is so important. So please know that if any of you ever need to talk, I am here for you!

P.S. This wasn’t supposed to get so pep-talky. I just thought it was an important topic and it got a little out of hand…

PPS. I do realize that men have the same type of disorders on and it’s increasing at an alarming rate. I just wrote this from a woman’s perspective because everyone I’ve known with this disease has been female.

PPPS I hate the media for doing this to us. Okay that’s it now.