Growing up, my mother (like every mother) always told me, “You have to eat if you want to grow up to be big and strong!” I always took that quite literally, I remember being 8 years old and looking up at all the teenagers, thinking that they must be eating at least double what I was eating in order to be so big and tall. I wished I was that tall. It was common knowledge to any third-grader that the tall kids got all the perks. They had first dibs on sports equipment because they could reach the top shelves in the gym storage room and they got the best spots in every school photo but most of all, they could go on all the big rides at amusement parks. That was my goal. So with my mom’s advice and roller coasters on the brain, I began to eat excessively. It got to the point where I was overweight, a fact that didn’t faze me. I mean, I was a kid, and it wasn’t like I had become a totally different person – just a little bigger one.
Finally, I made it to the amusement park that I longed for. I still wasn’t tall enough to ride a lot of the rides, but I was still having an amazing time. Suddenly, I was stopped dead in my tracks; I was mesmerized by the overstuffed, brightly-coloured toys that were made with little gurls like me in mind. I walked towards the game – one of those ‘Guess Your Weight’ booths where you win a prize if the booth worker guesses your weight incorrectly. There was a small crowd around the game that I deftly made my way through to reach the handsome teen boy running the booth. I excitedly gave him my money.
I don’t remember exactly what he guessed, but I do remember that, no matter what, you had to step on this comically large scale in order to prove your actual weight. As I hopped onto the scale, the crowd burst into laughter. I looked at the guy running the booth and he merely grinned and said, “Well, maybe you should lay off food for a while.” I never thought there was anything wrong with me until that moment, but suddenly I felt as if every bit of me was under inspection – and I wasn’t passing the test.
I became obsessed with losing weight, but not healthily. I figured the healthy routes would just take extra time that I didn’t have, so I started visiting pro-ana and pro-mia sites where I would look at all these pictures of girls I was supposed to aspire to be like. “Thinspiration” is what they called it, but instead of inspiring me it made me more insecure and miserable than ever. No matter what I did, no matter how much I restricted my eating I was never happy. As soon as I reached one goal I found another part of my body to loathe.
I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t stand by and let other gurls get sucked into feeling awful about themselves like I did. That’s why I created One Silver Lining, a non-profit organization aimed at teen gurls helping to promote positive body image and raise awareness about eating disorders.
My dream is to make One Silver Lining a community, somewhere gurls can go to other gurls for help and can feel like they aren’t alone. That’s one of the reasons I started OSL’s anonymous box as it gives gurls an outlet to vent about anything while receiving feedback, advice and support from gurls just like them!