I barely remember a time in my life when I didn't obsess over being thin. I was confident throughout elementary school (I started gaining weight around age 8) and I clearly remember going to my first day of school in Junior High. I walked in with confidence. It was going to be a great year - I was no longer in elementary school, I was growing up, I could wear make-up and shave, I was beautiful and the boys were going to love me. I left that day with the new knowledge that I was fat, ugly, undesirable and that people I knew in elementary school would no longer speak to me for fear of being seen with the "fat kid." It was an eye-opening experience. I've never had the same confidence since.
When I was 12 I found an advertisement in one of the many teen magazines I received. The headline basically screamed "Be Thin and Beautiful for $12.99!" It showed the before and after picture of a young girl who had been so transformed you wouldn't even have guessed it was the same person. The article talked about how guys now flocked after her, how she could wear a bikini, how confident she was, etc. etc. In small print it was promised that the package would arrive in plain brown paper so no one would know the contents. I was sold. I gathered up $12.99 (the exact change) and stuffed it into an envelope with the order form. I snuck out to the mailbox so my parents wouldn't know and then I waited for my plain brown package to arrive in the mail - the package that would cure all my problems. It never arrived. I don't know if it's because I mailed .99 in change or if it's because the company was a fraud, but to this day my miracle in a box hasn't happened. Throughout high school I would try various things - I wouldn't eat for a week at a time, I was constantly on diets. I would binge in secret so no one would know how much I really ate. I even knelt in front of the toilet and tried to make myself throw up - praise God I couldn't bring myself to do it. Even in college I tried various diets, including the hot dog diet, but, of course, nothing worked.
What is it with this obsession? Girls in elementary school are now dieting, convinced that they are not beautiful or thin unless they look like the girls in the magazines. There are websites and blogs committed to helping girls be anorexic and bulimic. We are a culture obsessed with being thin and being beautiful. We don't care about character anymore, we don't care about doing what is right, about being kind and helping others, we care about looking better than everyone else. Where did we go wrong? And how do we correct the course we are now on?