I Am Beautiful is something I was not able to say for most of my life. I didn’t see myself as beautiful, and it was very hard for me to see the beauty in others. Why? Because all I saw were flaws within myself. I didn’t see beauty, all I saw was chaos, and imperfection. Now years later I realize that our imperfections are the very things that actually make us beautiful.
My eating disorder began at the age of 11. I was in the 6th grade and I went on a diet to lose some weight. I believed that if I were to lose some weight, then I could be like the other girls at school. I could be accepted, liked by the boys and wear the fashionable cute clothes from Limited Too and Nordstrom. At the time I had a body of a woman and was 5 foot 9 inches tall. I had hit puberty at a young age, and had curves when everyone else still had adolescent frames. I started a diet that lead to anorexia. Cutting out all carbs, fats, and pretty much everything from my diet but meat, vegetables and most fruits. I was afraid to eat a lot of fruit because of the sugar. I believed I would get fat from the sugar, and if I got fat, then the girls at school would reject me and the boys at school wouldn’t like me.
I joined cross country in the 7th grade to lose weight. I wanted to be thin, and be like the other girls at school who wore Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch. They were skinny and all the boys liked them. They were like the girls in the magazines, that I saw as I walked through the grocery store with my mom. The skinny girls looked happy, and because of that, I believed that I could only be happy if I were skinny too. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I was starving from the inside out. I was starving for attention, acceptance, and for food. One day I learned that if I were to put my finger down my throat that my food would come up. So I tried that and it worked. I was able to eat anything I wanted as long as I just threw it up. There were many times over the next few years when I would almost pass out over the toilet. Throwing up made me so light headed and at times I did it between 7 to 9 times a day. Between the laxatives, diet pills, starving myself, and throwing up my food daily. My body was so messed up, and it lead me down a path that almost took my life at the age of 16.
At the age of 16 battling a life threatening eating disorder, I entered into Loma Linda hospital for 10 weeks. I learned about who I was as a person beyond my eating disorder, and was given tools to help cope and overcome my disorder. By the time I was almost 17 entering into my senior year of high school, I was still suffering with my eating disorder. I had exited treatment from Loma Linda and relapsed 10 times harder. I felt hopeless, and I didn’t know how I was going to make it through my senior year of high school or college.
After the first week of my senior year of high school I was ready to throw in the towel on life. I felt like I was a burden to so many people. I got down on my knees, ready to take my life. I told God that I had felt like I had failed so many people and I just wanted to end it all. To end the pain, suffering sadness, and heartache. That night the hand of God reached down and healed me of my eating disorders. He set me free from the mental prison I was in, and stripped my eating disorder from me. From that night forth I never threw up my food or starved myself again. That night I placed my broken heart into Gods hands and asked Him to piece back the broken pieces back together. Over that next year He began to do that, He healed the deepest parts of my heart with His love, and healed the lies in my mind with His truth.
I began to see myself as beautiful just as He saw me as beautiful. He showed me that my worth was found in His eyes, and not in the eyes of others. And even though others may not think that I am beautiful, He does, and He loves every part of me. He taught me that I was His masterpiece, treasured, loved, adored, and accepted by Him. He showed me that I didn’t need any part of who I was, because I was more than enough just as I was.
My mind has continually been renewed and heart healed over the last few years. The weeds surrounding my heart have been uprooted by God, so that the roses of beauty could sprout from the soil of my heart. God’s love has healed me from the depths of my heart and soul. He has renewed my mind through His word the Bible, and has forever set me free. Now at the age of 25, I can stand in front of mirror and say that I am beautiful.
Founder of Beauty Has No Size
Christina tells her story of battling and overcoming life threatening eating disorders. "I believe my anorexia was an outward reflection of my heart that was starving for love, acceptance and approval"- Christina
I Am Beautiful
As I was a mere eleven year old girl when my eating disorder commenced, I believe that an eating disorder is not a choice. Eating disorders choose their victims, silently and tactfully. With such precision that even the host has difficulty pin pointing even the slightest indication of an issue. Trying to feel like I fit in turned to giving up donuts when a peer brought them in to share with the class in celebration of their birthday. Eating half my plate turned into skipping meals entirely. Days with out eating and drinking developed into weekends of no food and so many sit-ups I got blisters on my behind. Only an eating disorder can trick a smart, responsible, little girl into a weak and clouded-minded kid into believing at 64 pounds she was too fat to be accepted and that not eating would solve the issue. I am now going on eight years since graduating the only eating disorder program that was willing to try their hand at saving my life. I was saved from the spell and tight grips of Anorexia and am here today to serve others in any way that I am capable.
My entire lifetime, I have been surrounded by loving family and friends, and grew up in a faith-filled community. To this day, I have no sense of where my eating disorder essentially “came from,” but I do know, however, that it came for a reason. My struggles with my eating disorder at such a young age made me the independent young woman I am today. Sensible, strong, courageous, and caring, are a few of my attributes that I would not trade the hands of my eating disorder for those years of my life back. I truly cherish the strength and self-awareness I have gained from defeating my eating disorder and in a sense feel blessed to have been prepared at such a young age to learn the value handling future struggles and obstacles with diligence persistence, and positivity.
As a student studying to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Science and nursing, with dreams of becoming a registered nurse, I am prepared to dedicate the next chapter of my life to zealously serving others and comforting those in their time of need. My primary goal is to be an emulation of a healthy heart, mind, and soul, something my future patients will see and be inspired to make healthy changes for themselves.
Upon graduating from the eating disorder program back in October of 2006, I was read a poem from my therapist that truly changed my outlook on life and made me decide at that point what type of young woman I wanted to be. The poem is titled, “After a While” and is written by Veronica A. Shoffstall. My favorite verse reads, “plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers and you learn that you really can endure you really are strong you really do have worth.” I think about this poem nearly every day and has taught me many things including handling failures with gracefulness and being my own source of happiness.
Personally, I do not feel that a recovery from an eating disorder means I will not have eating issues. I battle with eating issues every day, but I chose to not succumb to eating disorder affiliated actions. Furthermore, I am happy to say that though life is never perfect, I am living a beautiful, happy and recovered life.
At the age of 11 Emily developed an eating disorder. Read as Emily shares her journey through battling her eating disorder, her journey through recovery and the beauty that came from her brokenness. Recovery is possible.
Hunter shares her story and struggles in the modeling industry. And how God taught her how to see the beauty that she has in His eyes.
Hmmm. okay where do i start? I’ll take you back to 16 years old. I’m 5’11 weighing in at 114 lbs. bleach blonde,long hair, braces, acne, full face of makeup, and an outfit that was right out of Mean Girls (Probably a Juicy Couture jumpsuit and Uggs) behind that flashy girl was a shy, insecure girl who would eat lunch in her Spanish teachers room (Shout out to Mrs. Rollins!) everyday with her best friend because she was so afraid to be around the people she went to school with. Hi I’m Hunter, 21 now, and if i knew what i know now, that beginning statement would be a lot different. In high school i was extremely bullied, even at a very thin,tall stature, i would be called fat,ugly, i got my money, cell phone, clothes, purses, makeup,and jewelry stolen from me numerous times. I got phone calls threatening me if i went to school. I didn’t talk to anyone because i was so afraid to be shut down, not acknowledged, that i wasn’t going to fit in and that no one cared about whatever i had to say. I stuck to myself on the inside but on the outside i did everything i could to fit in. Waking up extremely early to straighten my hair perfectly and put on a full face of makeup, picking my outfit out to make sure it matched that of whatever the popular girls were wearing. It didn’t matter, regardless of how i looked, my heart would beat out of my chest the moment i would walk on the school campus. I would cry everyday afterwards and every morning before. During that time i was trying to model, i clearly remember this boy i liked asking me what i wanted to do, i was so excited he was even talking to me! I told him i wanted to be a model. To which he answered, “For what? Proactive??” i laughed it off but was so hurt by that comment as i knew what he was implying. (*sidenote* I WISH proactive would hire me now! talk about a killer contract! Lol!) i went home that night and cried and asked God why this was happening to me? Why couldn’t i be popular, why couldn’t i get invited to parties, why couldn’t i be accepted as i was? I finally got out of high school and was homeschooled from sophomore year on and graduated 2 years early.
I would go into modeling agencies and they would tell me i needed to loose 3 inches off of my already slender hips. I tried everything i could to make this happen. The best way i knew how was to not eat, to count calories on everything. I remember one test shoot i did where the photographer told me i was pretty but would be BEAUTIFUL and would work if i lost about 10 more pounds. The breaking point for me was when a tee shirt company reached out to me via a website called ModelMayhem and i finally booked a job! I was ecstatic.This was it! I showed up to the shoot with my mom, we walked in, music was playing, lights everywhere, an amazing spread of food, pretty much everything every little girl dreams about minus the entire crew glaring at me. Why were they all staring?! I meet the girl who hired me, introduce my mom and i run off to use the bathroom with my mom before getting the show started! While we were in there, the very same girl comes in and says. “Im so sorry to tell you this, We didn’t realize how big you were, we won’t be able to use you unfortunately. We don’t think any of the shirts will be able to fit you” (They didn’t even let me try one on, they just sent me home) Me and my mom were mortified. BIG?!?! I was a size 2-4! I played it cool until i got to the car, then, i let it out, balling my eyes out. In that moment i thought that my dreams that i had since i was a little girl were not going to come to fruition. I was mad at God, I was mad that He gave me this desire and it wasn’t being fulfilled.
I have now been able to work with some of the top companies such as Forever 21,Lucky Brand, Nordstrom, Hautelook, Dillards, Zappos, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, and Rue 21 just to name a few. I give God all the glory. He has shown me time and time again what it is to be Christ like, what it looks like to share His love and light. This is my ministry, through my travels i have been able to speak to so many people about the goodness of my heavenly father, to share my story (this is the short version, i couldn’t possibly keep you all here all day!) and for that, i am unbelievably grateful. Im grateful to live in a world where body positivity is on the rise, where self love and confidence is an everyday topic, where we can band together and lift eachother up in a world that wants nothing more than to tear us down.Lets Lift Up and Love!
The Beautiful Lyssa tells her story of battling anorexia and her journey through Mercy Ministries recovery program. Recovery is possible.
My name is Alyssa Avalon. I am 21 years old and I was born and raised in Ohio. At birth is when things in my life began to shape. I was born 3 months early, weighing 1lb and 10oz. Doctors told my parents that I had a 40% chance of life expectancy and if I survive, I’d basically be a vegetable but God worked in my life right from that moment.
My family and I weren’t Christians, we didn’t even discuss religion, we lived life as people do. At the age of 3 my parents divorced and my mom decided we move to where we live now. Growing up my mom invested a lot into me and my siblings. She did the best she knew to do. My childhood was pretty good without my biological dad.
In 6th grade is when my worst and best decisions were made pre-Mercy. I accepted Christ at 12 years old but I also started cutting. I use cutting as a way to cope. In school I was always made fun of and picked on. I was always compared to my sister and very different from her so I would be made fun of for being different and in special classes. Through the dysfunction in my family and having relationships with them along with peers I came to a mindset of not caring about anything. I loved myself and hung around others who were picked on.
In 7th grade I developed an eating disorder and wasn’t attending church at all. I had no information or knowing about eating disorders, I was never introduced to them so I didn’t think anything was wrong or harmful.
In 9th grade I became a majorette and let my struggles take on what they wanted of me as I became in denial. My coach quickly noticed the eating disorder and had lots of concern. She would tell my mom and I’d be questioned but I would deny it since I didn’t know anything was wrong. I started getting involved on Facebook which resulted in me connecting with others that dealt with suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, cutting, etc. The people I came into contact with were very unsafe and unhealthy but I felt comfortable in being open, I felt understood and not alone. This got me into more harm and I would expose suicidal tendencies on my page to the point of cops showing up at my house and sending me to the hospital. The counselor I started seeing prior to this event admitted me into a mental health ward where I only received poor treatment and upon release, things only escalated to a worse lifestyle. After I was discharged I was offered to attend church with my close cousin at Grace Community Church. I was starting to hangout with people I had met at church and an adult ministry group and things got better until those friendships turned into being rescue-type relationships. I would go to them only for attention. I put them under a lot of worry. Those relationships eventually fell. I wasn’t sure who I was and I lost desire to do anything other than cope in negative ways. In the midst of all of this, I was captivated by rejection which caused the fear of forming socialization and isolation seemed comfortable and beneficial. The stronghold of rejection filled me with lies I believed and set my identity on. I believed people would enter my life just to hurt me. The hate I felt from others brought me to self-hate and torture. At this time in my life I got into alcohol and marijuana. One night I was hanging out with a friend and her older brother. I remember the night very blurrily. I was numb and couldn’t move and kept going in and out of consciousness. The next thing I knew I was in a dark room with only a bit of light enough to see that he was molesting me. After this occurred I thought I could forget about it if I just tried to pretend it didn’t happen. Keeping the secret in gave me shame and I dealt with the pain by inflicting harm on myself more.
Throughout the rest of highschool I continued my self-destruction and let people treat my badly because it’s what I convinced myself I deserved. I graduated highschool and stuck with all of my ways of coping to where it nearly took my life. I would go to parties and would go as far as staying nights in random buildings with friends and strangers just to get high and drunk. The last party I went to I was locked into the bathroom with several sharp objects scattered in a tub next to me while in a bad mental state along with being intoxicated. When I’d escape, the group of people there would grab me and pass me down the line of each person as they told me to kill myself and throw me right back in and lock the door. Thankfully I got through with no self-harm or any other hurt done physically. Soon after this I started going back to church and gained healthy relationships but I was still tangled into cutting and the eating disorder.
I got back onto Facebook and went through tons of bullying and terrible threats on there but I also got in touch with Mercy Ministries graduates that sent me a video from BarlowGirl where I seen the ad to Mercy Ministries. I decided to look at the website and was encouraged by several people from church to apply. I made the decision between Mercy and RHEMA Bible College by telling the Lord that He had to provide for the one He wanted me to choose.
Within the few months of having severe anorexia along with purging and laxative abuse I decided to apply. In the application process, I met my favorite worship leader Kari Jobe and she prayed over me to be accepted into the program.
In January of 2014 as I was going through bloodwork and other appointments to complete the application, I was diagnosed as underweight and with Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This took a hold on my that I needed Mercy more than anything. I entered Mercy on February 6th and the beginning was a difficult time. I didn’t realize how sick and malnourished I was physically along with spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
The days of stomach pain from required shakes, tears each meal and severe anxiety because I couldn’t work out became completely worth it.
My journey at Mercy has brought me more transformation than I ever thought possible. My body and lungs are stronger than ever, I am able to fill myself with truth and replace the old lies and have joy in nourishment. At Mercy I learned that rejection from others isn’t a reflection of my self-worth. My restoration is in the new being God has made me. I discovered the freedom of staying forward and not turning back just because someone around me has. Their behaviors don’t force me to resort to old ones.
Mercy has also brought transformation and restoration within my family. The staff loved me in ways that nobody ever has and they’ve helped me gain a true life that God’s intended for me. This program has been safe and the Lord worked through the staff and poured into me a new creation. I am saved by grace and God but also by Mercy Ministries.
I am unable to send a photo due do being on via mail through phone but if you can, you can choose any photo you'd like! :)
Thanks so very much!! I've been praying all night that i would get a big opportunity to share my testimony to help others and this is so incredible!!!
Christina is passionate about restoring value, purpose, identity and beauty to the young women of this generation. Follow- @beauty_hasnosize