How I found my WHY
When I was 17, I found out that my 14-year-old sister had developed an eating disorder. At 17, most people would not be able to identify an eating disorder, let alone know how to help someone in the throes of one. Though I was mature for my age, had a more-extensive understanding of body image than most, and my parents were both healthcare practitioners -- I still had little ground to stand on. I could tell that something was wrong with my sister and that I wanted to help. I noticed her abnormal eating behaviors, overly self-deprecating attitude, and her over-exercising. After months of confusion, I eventually understood; she had developed an eating disorder.
I learned later on that these patterns had started in fifth grade and that she had struggled throughout middle and high school with her relationship with food. During my senior year of high school, I saw first hand how this disorder destroyed her from the inside out. It affected every aspect of her life- from how she saw herself to who she spent time with to her daily routine to how she saw her own worth.
While I did what I could for her, she shut me out, as many people with eating disorders do. Being the ever-loving, always worried older sister (often closer to a mother) that I was, I was deeply concerned. I talked to my parents, tried to help in any way I could, but I felt useless.
At the time, I was a part of a high school club called REbeL, a peer education organization that teaches about - among other things - disordered eating. I had originally joined to work on my own body image, but I found a greater purpose there, as well as a community. I absorbed myself in the club, learning all I could about eating disorders and body image. I asked: What can I learn to help my sister? How can I improve myself and develop the skills to interact better with her? I began researching, going to conferences, connecting with people in the community and creating my own chapter of REbeL at American University - the first collegiate program of REbeL - in 2017. While studying international relations at AU, I spent all my free time learning and working with members of the eating disorder community. I had gone there with the intention of becoming a foreign service officer, but I left with something much bigger.
I had found my WHY.
Today, I am an activist that engages daily with people in the eating disorder and body image communuities. Through my activism, I spread awareness about the complicated, and often deadly, effects of eating disorders and body image issues. The past seven years, I developed from a young person trying to learn more to help myself and my family into an activist, a speaker, and an educated, well-researched individual who fights against an idea we are taught from the second we are born: that we are not good enough as we are.
So who’s with me? I’m ready to fight. Are you?
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s get started.