On Chasing Silhouettes

by arianne

Yesterday I delved into my own body issues for the first time. It’s painful for me, but with each word that I bring out of the darkness of shame and into the light – the shame no longer has power. The words hold Truth, instead. This is going to be an ongoing dialogue here – I want to hear your stories. We have to talk about this, ladies. No matter the end of the spectrum one is on, be it over weight or under weight, body issues run rampant in our culture.

Last week my friend Emily Wierenga came out with a book sharing her incredible story of healing and redemption – and is inviting you to read her words and use them to help a loved one who is struggling with a body disorder. The marvelous book is called Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder. Do you know someone who could be helped or redeemed by this book?

Take a look at these stats:

(and see below for a giveaway of this incredible book!)

  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males
  • Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight
  • 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight

Read this piece of Chasing Silhouettes:


The nurses murmured to each other under fluorescent lighting as I lay shivering on the metal
hospital bed, cold. Later, I would learn that they had marveled at my hypothermic, sixty-pound
sack of bones, reasoning, “She should be dead.” I was a breach of science; a modern-day
miracle. Yet in that profound moment, all I
could think was: “Why can’t I lose any more weight?”

After four years of slow and steady starvation, I had finally quit eating altogether.

It started when I began to squint my eyes for the camera. I wanted to create laughter lines in a
laughter-less face. Then, I began sucking in my cheeks. I liked how it made me look thinner.
Model-like. I was nine years old.

The next four years were a blur. Anorexia starved my mind, but I’ll always remember the
darkness. Days smudged with counting calories and streaming tears. Days filled with frowns,
fierce yells and fists pounding against my father’s chest…

Dad loved us by doing his job so well he put ministry before family. He’d kiss us on the cheeks
early in the morning and lead Bible devotions and sigh when we asked him questions on
Sermon-Writing day. I hated Sermon-Writing day.

I got baptized at age eight because Dad said I should and I wanted to please him the same way I
wanted to please God. I associated God with my father—a distant, unemotional man who said he
loved me yet was too busy to show it.

One year later, I realized that even though I’d gotten baptized, Dad still didn’t ask me how I was
doing, not really, and so God still didn’t care. Not really.

Food was dished onto our plates at every meal; again, I had no choice but to finish it. This
inability to make my own decisions killed my independent spirit. Mum meant well; as a
nutritionist, she served healthy but plentiful portions. As a result, we became healthy but
plentiful children.

Meanwhile, a woman I’d become very close to, ‘Grandma Ermenie,’ passed away. And life
became even more uncontrollable, and disappointment, more certain…

It’s a scary place to be in, this place where you have no one, so you have to become bigger than
life itself, in order to carry yourself through the pain. A nine-year-old isn’t very big. And all I
wanted was to be small. Because the world told me that thin was beauty. And maybe if I was
beautiful, Dad would want to spend time with me.

I didn’t know about anorexia nervosa. We weren’t allowed to play with Barbie dolls or take
dance lessons or look at fashion magazines or talk about our bodies in any way other than holy,
so I didn’t know anything except that Mum changed in the closet when Dad was in the room, and
made us cover our skin head to foot.

A kind of shame came with this not talking about bodies and beauty became something
forbidden. And I wanted it more than anything. So I stopped eating.

It was a slow-stop, one that began with saying “No,” and the “No” felt good. I refused dessert. I
refused the meals Mum dished up for me. I refused the jam on my bread and then the margarine
and then the bread itself…

At night, I dreamt of food. Mum would find me, hunting for imaginary chocolates in my bed. I
wanted her to hug me and make the fear go away, but was worried that if I did, my guard would
be let down and I’d eat real chocolates, so I stopped hugging her for two years.

My legs were getting thin, and that was what mattered, but I dreamt about her arms, and woke up
hugging myself.

I slipped from a state of not being hungry to a state of choosing to be hungry. I liked how my
pants sagged, how my shirt became loose, my face slim, and my eyes, big. And at some point, I
became a different person, intent on being skinny no matter the cost.

***

I’m giving away a copy of the book – enter below in the giveaway widget!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Extra Incentive

Purchase Emily Wierenga’s new book Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder within the first four weeks after its September 25, 2012 release date and receive a special invitation to watch an online forum on eating disorders with bestselling author Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, FindingBalance CEO Constance Rhodes and author Emily Wierenga.

Readers must email a scanned receipt, a picture of them with the book or tell us when and where they purchased the book to events@ampelonpublishing.com, and they will be logged in to receive a special invitation to watch the event. They may also submit questions for the panel to answer, some of which will be selected and answered during the forum.

Thanks and good luck!

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