Understanding Mental-Illness, Eating Disorders and Drug Addiction. Finding the Courage to Heal.

When I hit puberty, I sprouted up like a bean stalk. I was a tall 13-year-old: long legs, stick figure, perfect hair and skin, so of course I naturally I did what everyone was telling me to do: become a model. It was that simple. I didn’t have to have any special abilities other than: look the part. I had been blessed with the right physical proportions. Big deal. I didn’t seem to think it was, but other people did, so I entered the industry. I went to “modelling school,” which although helped to boost my confidence and perhaps my posture, ended up being nothing more than a course in etiquette which did nothing for my career. (When I tell people I went to finishing school, they burst out laughing. Not that I’m not a class act. I swear I am! But for the most part… I tend to be pretty blunt. I don’t hesitate to eschew my “polite feminine demeanor” if the right wise-crack comes rolling up into my mouth. *Note to anyone thinking of pursuing the overly-glorified dream of becoming a fashion model: Don’t go to a modelling school! If the right agent likes you, the only fees EVER incurred will maybe be for a professional photography session. That’s it.

Anyway, so I got myself an agent who ended up telling my mother, as politely as she could, that I needed a nose job. Yep. You heard me. Little 13-year-old Christina dear, who wasn’t even finished sprouting, needed to get plastic surgery. So did I listen to this wise sage? Hell No. The belief that I needed a physical alternation to be truly beautiful stuck with me throughout most of my teenage years, however, but thankfully I’ve come to terms with how insane that notion is. Oh yeah, that same agent, who will remain nameless because I’m classy like that, also told my mother that some of her models, as young as 30, were getting liposuction and it was “no big deal.”

So you’re probably thinking that I must have called it quits then, but nope, I decided to stick it out, deformed nose and all! Everyone looked up to models and celebrities so… if I could be beautiful, then maybe I would be loved! Sad, but that’s how I felt at the time. Somehow I managed to get a couple more agents. I even got some work, did some runway shows, made some cash. At the ripe old age of 17 my curves began to show. I was coming into my womanhood and instead of being told to embrace it, I was told to reject it. Told to get rid of anything that gave away the fact that I was *gasp*… fertile and womanly. As a result I began to reject food and in turn, reject life. My relationship to food became an extremely confusing one. I loved it but it was the very thing that was keeping me from my dreams. I would starve myself for days trying to lose weight and then binge like crazy on anything I could find. I would stuff myself so full that at times I thought my stomach was actually going to rip open. But that was the only way for me. All or nothing. There was no balance. No happy medium. And then of course I would feel awful after binging so I would puke it all up. Food was a delicious but deadly sin, an intoxicating drug, an off-limits treat, my best friend and tortuous lover.

Read more: Understanding Mental-Illness, Eating Disorders and Drug Addiction. Finding the Courage to Heal.

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