Updated: Jan 21
An instant photo taken by a trick-or-treater more than 15 years ago showed me the scary side of being too skinny.
On a cold, windy Halloween 14 years ago, I was at my aunt’s house. She only had one trick-or-treater that day. I answered the door, and a girl with an instant camera asked if she could take my picture. I gave her a bag of chips; she gave me the photo. I set the photo on a desk to develop, not thinking much of it. About half an hour later, I looked at the image staring back at me.
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The picture showed a young woman with sunken cheeks, swimming in size zero jeans and an extra small shirt. Was that me? I thought.
I looked extremely skinny—a very unhealthy kind of skinny. Thoughts from the months leading up to that Halloween crept into my mind—how I was always striving for perfection, how I used to exercise constantly, how I would meticulously plan every calorie I ate.
Those were some deep, dark, scary days.
I knew enough about disordered eating and body image to know that all of things I was doing were characteristics of an eating disorder. This photo helped me solidify that I did indeed have an eating disorder. How long could I keep going? Could I hide it? Could I get better? I wondered.
I did eventually overcome an undiagnosed eating disorder. Read my award-winning book 108 Yoga and Self-Care Practices for Busy Mamas (MSI Press, 2019) to learn about my turning point and how I brought myself back to health.
Every Halloween, I think about that picture and how far I have advanced my understanding of healthy eating and body image.
Most importantly, I learned that skinny does not equal healthy. Healthy equals healthy. Today, instead of striving to be skinny, my aim is to be healthy.