(Content note: eating disorders)
In 2019, just a few months before COVID-19 hit, I fell into a series of disordered eating habits. These habits went unnoticed by many, and unaddressed until July 2020. It was then that I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
I underwent counseling and nutrition therapy for months, though the entire time I had no intention of getting better. Finally considered under the category “recovered,” I was freed from counseling, in my mindset, and continued on with life. My mindset altered, but stuck between recovery being necessary, and the addiction built in my brain.
Slowly, I began to lose the energy and passion to do many of the things I loved to do, one of which being dance. That, was the turning point for me. Over the course of a year I slowly returned to food as it should be, with one aspect in mind, recovery does not mean you are “fixed”. Eating disorder habits and thoughts do not just go away.
I began to take more consideration of those around me, instead of measuring up my intake to theirs. I became one with the world again. Through this I noticed many of my previous habits being portrayed by students at my studio. Heartbroken, something clicked inside of me. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to save them.
These students to me are my family, being just 6 or 7 years old, and older, they should be enjoying life and not worrying about the food they eat. For a year I had no idea what to do. I always opened up conversation to parents I felt comfortable with, or encouraged kids to consume some of what I was having to help with any anxiety. But it wasn’t enough.
Fortunately, last year I had my chance through the Miss America Opportunity. This organization, one which I was involved with as a young child, takes a huge step on the teen level. To compete for a local title that would enable me to go for the state title of Miss New Hampshire’s Teen, I needed a community service initiative. That is where Nourish Our Youth: Eating Disorder Prevention and Education was born.
Since then I have been able to connect to so many people, parents, children, teachers, family members, and more. I have had parents come to me personally, asking for advice, asking to keep an eye out, because they trust me and my initiative. I want to make a change, and not just in my small hometown. I want to start the movement to change how our society runs.
I want everyone to be able to say, “I know the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, and I know how to help (or where to connect someone to help).” I want kids to grow up feeling confident in their bodies, not measuring up every inch to someone on social media. I want them to know that social media is fake, and that every healthy body is different.
Most of all, I want to share my story so these kids who see me, as a titleholder, as a role model, and as a friend, know that they too can overcome mental health challenges day after day.