Let's Talk: Body Image

By The Beacon | September 22, 2015 8:53am

by Grace Carter |


Struggling with my body image has been an issue in my life for quite some time. I think it’s natural to have thoughts of wondering if strangers judge you for how you look. I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t be concerned with others’ thoughts about me because that is none of my business, but I acknowledge that it is difficult to ignore this fear.

I started to become obsessed with how I appeared to other people in elementary school. I felt self-conscious about how people viewed me physically and socially. The smallest comments about my image would cause me to over-analyze every aspect of my being.

I did not develop an eating disorder until college, but I definitely had the constant worry that everyone around me thought I could benefit from losing 15 pounds. Those thoughts gradually took over my life, thus causing me to have a mental illness: anorexia.

I started to avoid eating in order to lose weight during the summer before my freshman year of college. I had never done this before, but I was incredibly pleased with the results. I felt so much better when I looked in the mirror, and that satisfaction was absolutely addictive. People were complimenting me as I started to slim down. No one questioned how I did it, so I never felt guilty about not eating.

I was finally confident about my weight and body image for the first time in my entire life. So I was obviously devastated when I gained back all the weight I had lost. I felt like I had failed. Once summer came around, I decided to avoid eating again while I was back home from my first year of college. I actually planned it in my head. I told myself I knew the strategy to lose weight, and that was to ignore food at all costs.

At the time, I had no idea what this was doing to my body. I learned at the end of that summer I indeed had an eating disorder. I decided to get some information on the effects of eating disorders and was horrified by what I read. I had no idea the damage I had been doing to myself. When I acknowledged I had anorexia, I was saving my life.

To this day I have a hard time dealing with my relationship with food. I experienced anorexia for a relatively short period of time, but unfortunately it is something I will have to deal with for a while. Along with anorexia, I have also overcome bulimia, binge eating disorder and depression.

I fight a constant battle with my mind telling me I am not good enough each and every day. Whenever I am able to shut down the thoughts in my head telling me to stop eating, I consider it a major victory.

Through my experience with an eating disorder, I have become a major advocate when it comes to acceptance and self-love. I actively try to keep a positive attitude when it comes to my body image. Doing so can be very difficult, but I am doing much better with these issues because I am able to be open about my mental illness.

We all struggle. Let’s struggle together.


Grace Carter is a senior sociology major and can be reached at carterg16@up.edu. Grace is a member of Active Minds, a group on campus dedicated to educating our community about mental health and demonstrating that people are not alone in their mental health struggles.


Active Minds Podcast

[audio mp3="http://www.upbeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Grace-Carter-2-mp3.mp3"][/audio]

Active Minds' Zachary Grall interviews Grace Carter on body image


Mental Health Resources:

UP Health and Counseling Center: 503-943-7134

Multnomah Mental Health Crisis Line: 503-988-4888

Active Minds: activemindsup@gmail.com or Facebook.com/activemindsatup