Your Body Is Not a Battleground

Fighting an eating disorder can sometimes seem like you’re fighting yourself. Luckily, you’re not the only one in the ring.

Palmer_ThankThee_PQ_1080 (she created the image itself)

photo by Jessica Palmer

In a world that advertises a strict standard of perfection, it’s easy to find ways you don’t fit the mold. This fault-finding attitude can have devastating effects on our mental health, leading to negative body image and, if left unchecked, eating disorders.

In her Ensign article I Thank Thee for This Body,” Starla Awerkamp Butler addresses eating disorders in the context of the gospel. Butler shares the stories of Heidi, Hailey, and Megan—three women who have suffered from eating disorders. Each woman tells of her battles (and subsequent victories) with self-confidence, body image, and self-perception.

While their stories are not necessarily unique, these women offer a new, gospel-oriented tale of recovery. Although many people helped these women a great deal, each story outlines exactly how God stepped in and became the greatest coach of all.

As Megan says, “People have told me to tell myself I am beautiful every day, thinking that will help me through my anorexia. That has never worked for me. I chose something my brain doesn’t automatically dismiss: ‘I thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for giving me this wonderful body.’”

God’s love is universal and unwavering, and he doesn’t leave his children to battle their problems alone. He is a constant and perfect coach, companion, and confidante: his ways never fail. Sometimes, though, he works through other people, including the people closest to those suffering. The article concludes with a list of ways to recognize when you or someone you know has an eating disorder as well as advice about how to lovingly help those closest to you.

The battle for perfection in this life is real. However, sometimes it takes a heavenly coach to see what kind of perfection we should be fighting for.

Read “I Thank Thee for This Body” by Starla Awerkamp Butler to see how strong, gospel-centered women overcame their eating disorders.

Source:  Ensign 

—Jessica Palmer, Mormon Insights

feature image by hannah morgan

Find more insights 

Read “My Battle with Anorexia,” by Katie May Hess and see how another woman has struggled with and overcome an eating disorder.

Watch violinist Lindsey Stirling discuss her eating disorder and how she found the strength to overcome it.

Read “Who Do You Think You Are?” and hear President James E. Faust’s thoughts about self-confidence and love.

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  1. I like the idea of focusing on the body as a body, and not on the good or bad aspects. While it’s important to not become complacent with our bodies, it’s also important to understand the reality: nobody is perfectly beautiful, athletic, capable, etc. In my opinion, that’s why the whole “you’re beautiful” movement is so damaging. It’s deceptive, and it reduces the word “beauty” into nothing. Instead of telling girls they are beautiful (which might be somewhat of a lie: not everyone is blessed with exceptional physical attractiveness), let’s tell girls (and boys) that they are loved, capable, worthwhile, useful, etc.

  2. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue! I have struggled with disordered eating before and it’s such an important topic to address. Beautiful article.

  3. My wife has had an eating disorder for many years and she has with drawn from the public, she manipulates me and those around her to control her surroundings. I’m not allowed to go to church, go down town for more than 10 mins. talk to our children or a friend on the phone or even exercise to stay in shape as I age. when I try to hug her hold her hand she pulls away and gets mad at me for some other reason not sure how to handle this, been to counseling but it doesn’t help so I’m very confused and depressed this has gone on for 38 years.

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