"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

--Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Opening Up

If anyone has picked up a People magazine lately or just looked on the internet they would know that the theme in celebrity news this week seems to be eating disorders. I first read that Disney star Demi Lovato has entered treatment for "emotional and physical issues" which include cutting and battling an eating disorder. Soon after, I saw this week's cover of People magazine featuring Portia de Rossi opening up about her years battling severe bulimia and anorexia. Both of these stories sadden me greatly, but at the same time I am so happy these women are creating awareness and showing women how important it is to open up and seek help when battling this issue.

I was so disgusted after discussing Demi Lovato with my younger sisters and hearing from them that people--many of them girls--have been referring to her as the "fat Disney girl" for a while now. Apparently people compare her to her Disney counterparts Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus and deem her the fattest of the bunch. Seriously? And we like to blame guys for the majority of our body insecurities? Nothing angers me more than women fat talking other women. Girls, these are the things that create eating disorders. I found this quote from an interview with Lovato taken in 2009:

"There’s so much pressure now in our industry to be thin. That’s one way that I kind of am different—I’m not super stick thin. I’m Hispanic, I’ve got curves, but I like them. Sometimes it’s hard, especially when people online are like, “Oh, she’s the fat Disney girl.” Really? I’m normal! This is who I am. I couldn’t lose weight if I tried."
Though Lovato had already spoken out against these self-image damaging remarks, clearly they left a mark and are at least part of the reason she is seeking treatment now.

Counter to Demi Lovato's story which still is highly protected, Portia de Rossi is brutally honest about her self-afflicting past in her new memoir Unbearable Lightness. I read her People feature last night and was touched by her level of honesty and saddened by all that she has been through. I think the story will be incredibly eye opening for those who haven't battled any sort of eating disorder to see how an eating disorder isn't developed out of nowhere. The way it sneaks up on a person can be incredibly subtle. In her own words she says,
"I didn't decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude."

"I had to do whatever I could to fix my big legs. That was the start of the diet that lead to the disorder."
Those quotes really resonated with me and hit so close to home in terms of how my own eating disorder began. Usually it all starts with one or two areas on your body that you have a problem with and want to fix. With me it was always my legs and my thighs so I can really relate to Portia's story in that area. Thankfully, I never got as extreme as her, but if I had kept going without opening up about it and continued to use it as a method to cope with my other life problems, who knows where it would have gone. I am just so thankful for people like Portia not wanting to "have anymore secrets" and learning that in the end, self acceptance needs to take place in order to enjoy life and love yourself.

"Look, I don't think I'm perfect. I still don't like my thighs," she says. "But I'm not going to do anything to compromise my health or my sanity to change them. I don't want to have secrets anymore. I don't want to have a darkness that I feel that I should be ashamed of. And going forward now, without having anything to hide, the future looks pretty bright."

I sure hope Demi Lovato eventually lives by these words, along with all the other women--young and old--who are suffering but are hiding under a mask of security and happiness. The more people in the spotlight open up about their struggles and showing the world that they are not perfect, the more women they'll encourage to do the same. This my friends, is the first step toward healing.

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