A few weeks ago, I was invited to write a sample blog post in order to be considered for an opportunity to write on a volunteer basis for the LDS blog, Sugardoodle.

With this in mind, I thought that I could share with all of you what I submitted:

Eating disorders, like a lot of things in life, aren't exactly predictable.

During my sophomore year of high school, I decided that I was done with feeling embarrassed by my body and the extra pounds it carried. As a result, I started a strict diet that only allowed me to eat about 1,700 calories a day. Within two months I had lost 40 pounds and reached, what I thought to be, my ideal body weight. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable in my own skin. No matter how much weight I lost, I wasn’t satisfied; I could always lose five more pounds. Eventually, I reached a point where the compliments I had been receiving from friends and family became tinged with worry; but no one could stop me. I realize now that I had become a victim of an eating disorder due to my own warped perceptions of beauty and self-worth. My “diet” controlled every action, thought, and emotion I had; it consumed me, and became my identity.

Pre-eating disorders.
 I still can't believe I thought this was fat.

 A few months later, I became depressed due some drama at school within my circle of friends. Almost immediately I turned to food as my medication of choice, and shortly thereafter, I developed what would become another eating disorder. The sadder I became, the more I ate. The weight that I had worked so hard to lose (plus a little extra), came back within a month’s time and the depression that followed resulted in even more eating. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t stop myself--food was my escape from reality.

For the longest time I felt that it was my fault that I couldn’t control my eating because I was weak and too miserable to change. Luckily, I met with a doctor who helped me realize that an eating disorder is a mental disease with physical implications. It isn’t just a matter of not eating or eating more; it’s an addiction, a state of being.  He once compared an eating disorder to a person with Diabetes (which I have) by explaining that just as you can’t tell a Diabetic to make insulin on their own, you can’t talk someone out of an eating disorder. It takes time, therapy, medication, meditation, and patience for change to occur.

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about how and why I came to have an eating disorder in the first place. I've come to the conclusion that it didn’t come from a single source, but many. In both instances, I felt inadequate. I was angry that no matter what I did, I would never be good enough. I guess I believed what society told me: that my value lay in the number on a scale, the calories on a box, or the size on a clothing tag.  Even though it’s been two years since my last relapse, I know that my eating disorder is an intrinsic part of who I am, shaping my thoughts, opinions of myself and, at times, how I interact with others. However, through the support of my loved ones, the blessings of the Atonement, and the love of my Father in Heaven, I know that we're never really alone during the trials placed before us.


“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.”
― Albert Camus, The Fall

A few days ago I was heading to work with my roommate when I noticed a group of girls walking to a college football game. To put it plainly, they were my version of everything that I find wrong with female culture at BYU-- they had long, curled hair; perfect makeup, cropped jeans, and of course, slim figures. I rolled my eyes as they walked by and pointed them out to my friend, hoping that she would agree with me.

 Luckily, she didn't.

After hearing what I had to say, she said that they were gorgeous and "rocked" their outfits. Feeling slightly defensive after hearing this, I told her that they were fake and (according to my skewed logic) undeserving of her compliment. She looked at me, slightly disappointed, and said:"Maybe they are. But that doesn't mean that they aren't beautiful."

I tried to brush off her comment, but her words, and expression, bothered me for the rest of the night.
How could she say something like that about them? I was angry, embarrassed, and seriously confused by her reaction...along with my own words.

During our work shift I thought about what she said, along with my reaction, and realized something.

She was right.

Almost instantaneously I remembered recent blog posts and comments that I had made, feeling more than a little guilty. I had vilified a group of individuals in order to make myself feel better about my appearance, and exclusion from their "group". I saw that stereotype as the source of all my troubles, rather than realizing that my troubles started with me. I felt like a complete hypocrite.

Let me be frank, and say that this blog post is primarily for myself; a coming to terms with the faults in my perceptions of others. I realize now that I've become addicted to judging every aspect of the world around me in order to find solidarity in my own.

I complain a lot about BYU being a place of "molds" and attempted "perfection", but maybe the molds I see are ones that I've created. Shards of thoughts left from my days of controlled eating, and Anorexia.

Maybe I still have a hard time finding the beauty within myself, and as a result, I knock others down.

“It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I've been trying to finish this post for about a week now, but I've had the hardest time putting the rest of my thoughts into words. I could go on about the experience I had watching Miss America with my family, the reality of "skinny shaming", or similar things that have happened in this short eternity of time...but for now, I've said as much as I can muster on this topic.

I know that my past has scarred me in ways that I can't even begin to comprehend yet, but I can't let those thoughts become the basis of my future and the tools that shape my everyday life.

There's definitely a lot more introspection that needs to be done on my part, but for now, I hope I can make a small amends for my behavior by committing to become better at loving others, as well as myself. 


This semester at college I've been taking a History of Psychology class from Professor Gantt, and we've been learning about the philosophical idea of Naturalism, particularly the viewpoints of Epicurus. Essentially, Naturalism breaks down into two categories: the Metaphysical (the unseen word) and Materialism (the world as we see it). 

In order to explain the differences between the two categories of Naturalism, Professor Gantt asked us a series of question to get our mental wheels turning. 

For example: 
"What is beauty? Is it something eternal, or merely what we perceive to be pleasurable?"

He went on to say: 
"...You could go back and forth between Mozart and Metalica. Arguing back and forth about what is beautiful, really beautiful, and what is simply pleasing a certain time and place in culture. Is there something about a piece of art or music, what have you, that makes it beautiful because it corresponds to some eternal, unchanging ideal of the beautiful. Or is beauty simply in the eye of the beholder? I like this. And that means its beautiful to me, so that's the only kind of beauty there is. Or is there an ideal?"

Knew it. 

This discussion caused me to wonder what I thought beauty to be. After thinking about it for a while, I realized just how much I've been influenced by the preferences of society and those around me. Why is it that we allow ideals and pleasurable perceptions to be our chief indicators of beauty?

During my Junior year of high school, I dieted and starved myself  in order to reach an ideal that I didn't realize to be impossible until it was too late. It probably didn't help that most of my friends cheered me on and told me how much better I looked...especially my guy"friends". (I don't want to seemingly abandon my feminist values by saying this, but I believe that women reflect the men around them.

As soon as I gained the weight back (plus some extra), the compliments, along with the boys, went away. I felt like I had lost a part of myself, a piece of my identity. I wasn't the skinny, cute girl anymore; I was Alyson, the girl who gained weight. Since I no longer fit the ideal, or even my own perception of beauty, I felt worthless. If I didn't like myself, how could anyone else? 

I was so obsessed with how others perceived my appearance that I let those worries shape who I was and ultimately, how I thought about myself.

I guess I confused attraction with beauty. 

I spent too long dwelling on the petty opinions of people who didn't matter, when in reality, the only opinion that mattered was my own...however warped it was.

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." -Epicurus

I'm still trying to define what I believe beauty to be, especially when it concerns my own body,
but in the end:

"I like this. And that means it's beautiful to me."