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I just read your article on Eating Disorders from Teen Voices Magazine. I am not anorexic. I am healthy and exercise regularly. But I know I have a complex. A problem with my body image. As a little girl and pre-teen, I was fat. I am now 16. I am told that I am slim. But, as far as I'm concerned, I still live in the little girl's body.

I don't know how serious my problem is. Like the girl in your poem, I am smart, popular and a "successful" person. And pretty....I guess.... But every time I look at the mirror, I can't help but feel like a failure. I'll diet, lose a bit of weight...feel great about myself. Then, when I pig out, I feel like I've committed a crime.

Nobody knows how badly I feel about this, cause I don't talk about it. Deep down, I really feel very insecure. I never mention my weight or diets in school cuz I am worried that it'll just draw attention to my "ugly" body. At home, I do sometimes moan and groan about my appearance, but everyone thinks it's just a regular dose of vanity.

Well, I've come this far. If I saw myself thru another person's eyes, I would not consider myself fat or bad-looking. But it's difficult to be objective and I admit that I've got ridiculously high standards for myself on how I look. I am constantly comparing myself to other girls -- other "slimmer" and "prettier" girls.

Everyone wants to look good, I guess. But looking good can only come if you feel good. I am trying to feel good about my body. Really. I ask God to help me to love myself, because He loves me. I want to accept myself, and start living in a healthy body...not the fat, miserable body of my childhood...

Thank you for your article. I can really identify with it....and I know I'm not the only one. There are many girls out there like me.

Yours Sincerely, Beautiful just being Me

Dear Beautiful Just Being YOU - I just wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I for one - and most of my female friends - kick ourselves because we are overly concerned about our body image, which would be fine if our standard were "us", but, no, it's too thin models who give us unrealistic examples of body weight. We are all smart women with good jobs, great friends, high self-esteem and yet somehow we still have conversations here and there about our bodies not being quite right.

I am naturally a petite person and get frustrated when people say "you are skinny." I feel guilty, so I try to eat more than I normally want to. Then on occasion - rarely, thank goodness - when I'm not feeling guilty for being thin, I'm feeling fat. The one good thing is that my definition of fat has changed - I no longer measure myself to others, but have a good sense of what my body should be like. When I was your age, a friend and I would eat lots of food and then make ourselves throw up together. It was that guilt of eating too much food that wasn't good for us - ice cream, snickers bars, and shredded mozzerella cheese - and also the idea what we could eat whatever we wanted and make ourselves throw up so it wouldn't make a difference. It wasn't until I was in college (4 years later) that I learned that what we were doing was actually a disease. Because we did it together and because we never learned that there was something wrong with this, we just kept at it. The good news is that now, I hope, people are more aware that anorexia and bulimia are actually problems, so we can't live in denial anymore. Thanks for sharing and for your confidence.


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