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I recently saw a HerCampus article about a woman who had an eating disorder in college. As I read the article, I almost teared up at how much she had to drop out of school in order for her to recover. I then cried when she said, “your education will always be waiting for you.” It hurt my heart the most where she couldn’t put her education first, because of an internal and external conflict she was dealing with. It inspired me to share my story of self-hatred and my eating disorder I never revealed to anybody.

This is the kind of subject I’ve been wanting to talk about ever since I became a HerCampus writer: My eating disorder and why am I truly at ODU. It’s no secret now that I am in college and I recovered; in fact, I even stated my eating disorder on my admissions essay and it was one of the most empowering topics a girl like me could ever write to admission officers.

My freshman-self at 14-years-old. I did not have braces yet (I had an overbite), chopped my hair into a bob and smiled for Instagram at that time to act as if I was never insecure.

My eating disorder began when I joined JV indoor track during my freshman year of high school. I’ve always been slim-built and I was never self-conscious about my body while growing up. During the days of being an insecure track athlete, I always looked up to upperclassmen, the popular crowd, and even Instagram models. I thought to myself, “why can’t that ever be me? Why can’t I ever be cool and popular?”

In reality, I was simply a quiet girl that wanted to fit in. I did not know what I wanted for myself or for others. My self-hatred began before winter break; there was someone that was gossiping about me. That specific someone said I was “the slowest runner,” I “let the whole track team down,” and “was so ugly.” Instead of dismissing the remarks, I was weak-minded, indignant and astray.

During that winter break, I chopped my hair into a bob above my shoulders a few days before Christmas. I looked at myself in the mirror with regret and disgust. 

From that point on, I strived for only one thing for myself: the ideal perfection.

Pretending that I’m living life on a Princess cruise for summer vacation. In reality, I was irritated because all I wanted was to simply look good on Instagram at the time.

While all this commotion was occurring, I became addicted to eating laxatives after learning they help with the digestive system. I wanted the feeling of being beautiful and accomplished of my body. After every trip to the bathroom, I always felt good about myself, as if I “worked” for the results. I denied my laxative abuse for an eating disorder. I always thought it was something I required myself to take, regardless. In reality, all those 1-3 pills of laxatives made my body lose more of my healthy weight because I wasn’t losing fat–I was losing my water weight–I needed my natural body fat and water weight in order to survive.

During my sophomore year, I was around 89 pounds at 15-years-old, and standing at 5’1”. I had yellow teeth, pale skin, skinnier thighs, and very dark circles around my eyes, but I was very good at hiding my eating disorder.

A day out of nowhere, an amazing educational opportunity came to me. My school’s county offers an advanced technical education center to upperclassmen. One of the centers happened to be sport’s medicine. I was overjoyed when I got accepted; I felt like I was going to learn about working with athletes, how to exercise again and learn about the human body. Turns out, I learned more than I expected; it taught me both the medical and philosophical ideologies and facts I should have known about myself.

The first time I was so comfortable with myself without makeup on and taking a photo. I was 17 and it was the beginning of my senior year, probably the best year in high school.

What I learned and how I recovered:

I learned that my body naturally loves me the way it was formed. The human body does everything in its power to keep it alive and well. For example, according to the University of South Florida Health, the meniscus keeps your knee joints to stabilize and prevent grinding together during flexion. According to John Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, the bursa sacs of knee and hips help decrease friction within the bones. Lastly, the heart pumps oxygen into the blood so it will burn sugars and fatty acids, but also have the energy for the body. Imagine if I let these beautiful processes went to waste because of the hatred I had for myself?

It was up for me to decide if I chose to let my body’s health deteriorate out of hatred by having an eating disorder, or l can exercise, eat healthily and have the right mindset about myself in order to have my body love me in return. The whole process is a karmic factor; it is what goes around, comes back around.

My ideologies and beliefs of perfection, confidence and beauty lean towards a deeper learning of myself. I believe having beauty is all within us ever since we were born. Attaining an ideal beauty one wants for themselves is not only going to take hard work physically and emotionally but also education-wise. I believe one should have a generous amount of knowledge about themselves and how they can live well–that to me is beauty.

Beauty is the ability to be healthy, educated, confident and humble. We as humans are not created to be perfect, but we all desire perfection at some point in our lives. We as humans can either attain the desire for perfection in a negative or positive way.

Can’t believe that this was me as a model in this photo! I never thought I’d be a model in a million years because of what I went through.

It’s amazing how a girl who was so insecure and lost transformed into a young woman who is ready to spread her message through activism, stand for issues she believes in and learn even greater knowledge about the human body scientifically and philosophically.

Hi!  I'm Paula and I'm the Senior Editor of HerCampus at Old Dominion University! I'm majoring in English with a Concentration in Journalism minoring in Health and Wellness. I aspire to be a food and culture, politics, or a global affairs reporter for big newspapers such as the NYTimes, Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times. While I'm not writing fun articles for this chapter, I love cooking various Asian dishes and healthy foods, grocery shopping at Whole Foods or the Fresh Market, and studying and speaking Spanish. Fun Fact: I am a local model around Norfolk and Richmond! Follow me!
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