Does BMI Do More Harm Than Good?


The other day a friend of mine shared a truly horrifying news article with me. The report shows how what we have accepted as “societal norms” can contribute to the issue of self esteem that is currently rampant among young girls. From personal experience I know just how damaging it is to be told at a young age that you are “fat” or “heavier” than the rest of your peers. It made me feel like a pariah and without a doubt played a role in the development of my eating disorder. I strived to be on the smallest end of the spectrum and as a result I had very little self esteem and was constantly consumed by my goal to lose weight. It was a miserable existence in all honesty. This is why I think I reacted so strongly to the story of nine year old Gwendolyn Williams  who was told by her school, based on her BMI, that she is obese.

Overweight Student - Staten Island

As you can see, in the picture above, Gwendolyn is no where near being obese, let alone even overweight. In fact she is an extraordinarily healthy young girl who only now, because of her diagnosis of having a high BMI, has started questioning the adequacy of her own physical appearance. She is only nine years old and weight should not be on her radar. She should be playing outside, learning in school, and cultivating meaningful friendships instead of worrying about what her BMI means. Fortunately, Gwendolyn’s mother saw right through the BMI measurements and took a stand against the evaluation that her daughter is obese. She fought the school and has gone public about just how damaging these assessments can be on young children. We need more parents like Mrs. Williams who are motivated to stand up for their children’s well being and recognize that BMI assessments are outdated. In further support of the possible damaging affects that this “fitness assessment” based on a child’s BMI, can have on children, a representative from the Binge Eating Disorder Association stated that “dieting, especially for kids, is the gateway drug for eating disorders, and so is the public shaming that can come with this.” This reinforces the fact that it is crucial that we change how we talk to young children about weight and also that we teach them that it is not what is on the outside that matters, but what is on the inside. I know that I no longer take BMI measurements very seriously and I hope that each of you further your understanding of this outdated practice and come to your own educated conclusions.


Love Your Body! Beauty is Colorful :)

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For my senior sociology seminar our final assignment was to address/participate in some form of public sociology. My group, which was comprised of five senior girls including myself, choose to focus on finding an effective and meaningful way to educate and bring awareness to the body image issue that has such a dominant presence on most college campuses. The actual definition and explanation of body image, “refers to the way we perceive our own bodies and the way we assume other people perceive us. It is not inborn, but learned. This learning occurs in the family and among peers, but these only reinforce what is learned and expected culturally.” (Lightstone, 1991) Body image is clearly a sensitive topic and far too few people in today’s society are satisfied with their physical appearance. This is devastating and it is thus crucial that we come together and find methods to combat this societal and cultural problem.

In an effort to effectively address the body image issue on our own college campus we planned a programming event that is amazing and will definitely help bring awareness and education to this topic. Fat Talk Free Week, which occurs during the last week in October, was started by Tri-Delta Sorority. The goal of Fat Talk Free week is to:  “draw attention to body image issues and the damaging impact of the ‘thin ideal’ on women in society.” The purpose of Bowdoin’s Fat Talk Free Week will be to generate awareness around body image at Bowdoin College and in the greater community, as well as educate others about positive body image. This will be an awesome start to the semester and will really get the conversation about body image going on campus. We truly hope that once a group (Beauty is Colorful) is established that is willing to take on the authority of spreading this message, than body image conversations will have a permanent presence on this campus. Through creating a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to share their own experiences and talk about such a personal topic hopefully some of the stigmas surrounding this issue will disappear. We also have even created a poster campaign that will hopefully help kickstart the group. Here are the beautiful posters:


Through participating in this project I truly realized that even the smallest efforts can make a difference. So I encourage everyone to start today by filling in the statement below:


“I am beautiful because I see the good in others”

Happy Monday everyone!

Wellness Week!!

photo 1


Yesterday I enjoyed participating in a lovely afternoon at Lynnfield High School for their Wellness Week. The week centers on promoting healthy wellness behaviors and habits onto high school students who are often most susceptible to stress and other damaging behaviors because of the overwhelming pressures that are placed onto them at this time. The mom of one of my closest friends is the school nurse at Lynnfield and she invited me to speak about body image/eating disorders with her students. As someone who is currently in recovery and not fully healed I was obviously nervous about taking on this challenge, but I am so glad that I did. It was so rewarding and even though not as many students as I would have liked approached my table if I was able to make a difference in just one person’s day than it reinforces everything I am doing. I just had to remind myself that it’s always about quality over quantity!


photo 3

Here’s the table we set up for the students. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to show my blog, which I truly appreciated and also hope resonated with the students who came over to talk with me.



Nurse Mary and I at our table!

I hope that by speaking up about my own struggles with my eating disorder that I can help others who are hurting to see that they are not alone and they don’t have to suffer in silence. I’ve grown so much since I’ve started treatment and began to open up about all the trials and tribulations I’ve endured with my eating disorder and I truly hope to continue down this positive and bright path and can only hope that others join me in recovery 🙂



Do You Have A Healthy Relationship With Food?


As I have mentioned time and time again eating disorders do not discriminate and can affect any individual regardless of their race, gender, age, class, etc. Unfortunately, because there are so many stigmas and stereotypes tied to disordered eating many people who are suffering do not have access to the help they so desperately need and often deny that anything is wrong. In an attempt to bring some awareness to this issue I want to share two links with you all. The first one is an Eating Behavior Self Assessment created by Dartmouth, and the second is a free and confidential Eating Disorder Screening provided by the National Eating Disorder Association. I encourage anyone who is questioning their relationship with food to take one, or both, of these tests. Remember there is no shame in seeking help and taking care of yourself because in the end it will only make you a stronger and more capable person. Happy Humpday and I hope these links help anyone who is having a tough time!

Could Your Doctor Diagnose an Eating Disorder?


I know that I had initially promised that this post would focus on how I dealt with my eating disorder thoughts while I was on vacation, but I came across an article in Glamour magazine, during my travels, which I felt was WAY more important to share. In the april issue of Glamour magazine, which features Lena Dunham on the cover, I read an amazing, but disturbing, article entitled, “Could You Spot Someone With an Eating Disorder”. The story highlights just how inept most general physicians are when it comes to diagnosing patients with eating disorders. The lack of knowledge surrounding this serious mental health disease within the medical community is devastating and it is simply unacceptable. Through Glamour’s undercover report they concluded that “shockingly, most doctor’s can’t (diagnose an eating disorder) – and their blind spots are keeping women from getting the lifesaving care they need.” It is crucial then for all of us who have faced a hurdle like this one, in our journey to recovery, to talk about this issue and help others to find doctors and resources who can truly help.


Unfortunately I can relate all too closely to the experiences of the women who recounted their own doctors visits in the article. I have never liked doctors and do, to some extent, “blame” my prior treatment by physicians as setting me up, or making me more prone to developing an eating disorder. When I was younger I dreaded going to the doctors and wouldn’t eat that whole day because I knew I had to be weighed and I probably wouldn’t like what the scale had to say. This is a behavior that I still struggle with to this day. I have so much anxiety attached to getting weighed and it’s all because of how harshly my childhood doctor treated me. She never took into consideration others factors that could have attributed to my more “mature” weight (like the fact I went through puberty at a young age) and truly made me feel like an obese pariah. An even more traumatizing experience, which also involved a doctor occurred right when I began deliberately trying to lose weight my sophomore fall in college. I had strained my foot from overusing it and the physician I met with asked me flat out: “Why are you running so much? Is it because you want to lose weight? You know that if you want to really lose weight you need to start altering your diet too?” I was completely mortified because in my mind, clearly to this doctor, I must have looked like I needed to lose weight and from that day on I started restricting. I’m not saying that the physician in this case was wrong in his advice, but what I do believe is that his tone and how he went about addressing this issue was completely unprofessional and in my case traumatizing. Maybe if he had said this to someone else they would have reacted completely differently, but he didn’t, he said it to me and unfortunately for me it opened Pandora’s box and my eating disorder started to spiral out of control.

After I started, slowly, to believe I had an eating disorder I began to meet with MANY doctors and in all honesty most were not helpful and extremely ill informed on what I was dealing with in regard to my eating disorder. I usually left appointments feeling like I was “making up” that  something was wrong with me and that the strong disordered thoughts that were a constant in my head weren’t really an issue. My struggle was not being validated so I continued to tell myself that nothing was the matter when in all actuality I was really very sick. I had dropped a significant amount of weight, I was orthostatic, and my lab work was off, but I wasn’t underweight and so most doctors usually found other explanations for my symptoms. They plain and simple avoided diagnosing me with an eating disorder because they didn’t feel comfortable doing so since it is such a complex and multifaceted disease. Luckily for me though I had Dr. Sherrie Delinsky on my team pretty much from the start and she was able to be my rock and guide me through all the chaos that arose from my appointments with other doctors. She was ALWAYS on my side and wouldn’t give up on me. She knew I had a serious eating disorder and she was determined to get me the help I needed, and deserved, in order to recover. Dr. Delinsky steered me in the right direction and found a general practitioner in my area who had dealt with eating disorders and was knowledgable about this mental health issue. Dr. Elizabeth Maier, MD is great and I would highly recommend her to anyone else struggling with this disease. She knows how to speak to eating disorder patients and has the resources to help. I know, personally, that once I had a team of doctors set up, who are all constantly fighting for me my journey to recovery has become significantly more manageable and I am being held accountable, which is crucial to my experience.


Glamour’s article also touched on some important statistics that  includes the fact that 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder, but only 1 in 10 of them will receive proper treatment and approximately 60% of eating disorder sufferers recover fully with treatment. What this shows is that the caliber of treatment that most eating disordered individuals are receiving from their physicians is shockingly low and inadequate. It is crucial that we do what ever we can to help open the eyes of the medical community to see just how serious eating disorders are and that what they say can negatively or positively impact their patient’s recovery. I’m doing my part by sharing with all of you my experiences as well as the treatment team I have set up, all of whom are amazing doctors and who I would recommend highly, but this is just the start. We need to do a better job about educating everyone about this issue and just by taking a minute to become more educated about the mental health disease, with the highest mortality rate, is a step in the right direction. So check out MEDA -Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association to learn more and remember you are stronger than you believe and you don’t have to do this by yourself.


So What?

I have a midterm tomorrow and I haven’t studied as much as I intended to… so what?


I haven’t gone out in three weekends…so what?


Someone doesn’t like me (even though that’s very unlikely haha)…so what?


I have no solid plans for after I graduate…so what?


I’m single…so what?


I tried something new that I am passionate about and I failed…so what?


These two simple words, without a doubt, have helped to keep me sane and have carried me through this year. My best friend introduced me to the concept of “so what,” which she learned from one of our mentor’s at school, the lovely Ms. Whitney Hogan, and ever since than I’ve been obsessed with this phrase. If I find myself even the least bit overwhelmed I try to take a breath and reevaluate the situation by asking myself so what? Will the world end if I do or don’t complete something? No, it won’t and it’s such a relief to come to the realization that I can’t let the little things take up too much of my time and I just have to be myself, no matter what others think.


Life is full of uncertainties and surprises and what we expect to happen might not, but we can’t let that consume us. We must persevere and keep fighting whether it be for recovery, pursuing our dreams, or whatever matters to us the most. It is necessary to look at the big picture and not be overwhelmed by whatever is going on in the moment that is giving us a hard time. So, when you feel over trodden by something just ask yourself, in whatever capacity it might be, so what?


Wear Purple To Show Your Support!


Truthfully I’ve always been more of a pink girl, but this week I am choosing to wear purple to show my support for all those who suffer from eating disorders, myself included. Purple represents eating disorder awareness so I encourage all of you to throw something purple on at least once this week 🙂 Here are some fun ways to wear purple (some images are definitely fancier than others haha):


Throw on a scarf!




This pastel purple makes me want spring.


Scarves are never a bad idea 😉


Paint your nail! I did haha


Love this peplum top.




Hot. Hot. Hot.


Celebs love purple too.


Those shoes.


A cute and flirty skirt.


I wish.


Purple lace + nails = perfection.


“I Had No Idea.” NEDAwareness Week 2014


NEDAwareness week began yesterday and the message, which NEDA hopes to convey this year is that of, “I had no idea.” The theme of “I had no idea” is significant because it aims to address and alter misconceptions about eating disorders. So many people are unaware of the often devastating mental and physical consequences that eating disorders have on individuals, whether it be on the person suffering from one, or those closest to them. As NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) emphasizes in their mission statement for NEDAwareness week “eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses – NOT CHOICES – and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.” The ultimate goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to get a dialogue going amongst individuals about the seriousness of eating disorders and to teach how to support someone who is suffering, or if someone is dealing with an ED themselves, to encourage them to seek help. I have posted below an infographic with some shocking and disheartening statistics about just how many women are plagued today by disordered eating and dissatisfaction with their bodies.


Personally NEDAwareness week is extremely important to me in regard to my own journey towards recovery. This week, last year, was actually the first time that I started to open up, through social media, about my own suffering and the pain I constantly endure because of my ED. I know some people don’t believe that sharing such personal information in this capacity is appropriate, but I think that I have a responsibility to do so and my intentions have always been good and honest. I purely want to bring awareness to the fact that eating disorders are life threatening diseases and that one of the most significant ways to help someone afflicted with an ED is to support them. This is why I have been so vocal about my own struggles. I want to make sure accurate information is being shared, but I also want to feel supported and not judged for being sick. I want others out there who are struggling to know that they are not alone and they don’t have to be, getting healthy and well is possible. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that it is not my fault that I have an ED. I did not choose to get sick and I wouldn’t wish the pain and suffering I have gone through on anyone, however, I am still in recovery and everyday I must choose to fight against ED. Some days are easier than others, but I know I have to persevere so that I can live a worthwhile and fulfilling life. This week I will focus solely on promoting awareness about eating disorders and I encourage everyone to check out NEDA’s website if you want to further your own knowledge. Also please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions, words of wisdom, or even if you need some support. I am here for all of you just like you have been there for me.


My response to, “The Pretty Game: Objectification, Humiliation and the Liberal Arts.”

As I mentioned the other day I am slightly behind in posting because I spent a long weekend at home, so I am only now getting to share with all of you my reaction to an op-ed that came out in my college newspaper, The Bowdoin Orient, last Friday entitled “The Pretty Game: Objectification, Humiliation and the Liberal Arts.” Another (somewhat more excusable) reason why I chose to wait to publish my response to this article is because I wanted to attend an informal discussion that was held last night, specifically about this piece, by the Bowdoin Women’s Resource Center. The op-ed generated many strong reactions from students and I was intrigued to see what would come out of the discussion. I know this article brought up a lot of stuff for me and truly resonated with my own experiences with disordered eating and I wanted to see if anyone else felt similarly. Ultimately what I got out of this discussion is that many women on campus can relate to the pressures we feel in regard to appeasing “the male gaze,” but also many of us admit to judging, as well as comparing, ourselves to other women, something I am guilty of too . We all, I believe, came out of the meeting with the recognition that we must be kinder to other women as well as to ourselves.


Personally the op-ed forced me to look back on my own experience at Bowdoin and reflect on how “the pretty game” affected, and in a sense, fed my eating disorder. In all honesty, after racking my brain I came up with quite a few experiences I had chosen to “forget” and it became obvious to me that I without a doubt played into the game, and while doing so, intensified my eating disorder. I am the first to admit that I have some serious issues with body dysmorphia and don’t see myself accurately, so as a result of this I heavily rely on other people’s evaluations of my appearance, which is something I am now working against constantly, but it did greatly dominate my life when I first started to lose weight. I especially looked to guys for reassurance about my looks… I evaluated how good a night was based on how many guys wanted to dance with me, chat me up, or hit on me. I vividly remember telling someone when I was leaving a party that my night was complete because some hottie on the lax team told me I was one of the most beautiful girls he’d ever seen…nothing came from that interaction and he most likely was hammered, but for that moment I felt like all the over-exercising and restriction I was doing was working because I was winning “the pretty game.” I myself could not see my “beauty,” something I to this day struggle with, and thus was heavily dependent on the praise I received from others. To me at times I felt worthless so I needed to turn to other people to feel like I mattered.


My inability to see myself accurately, and also the fact that my ED voice was loudly telling me that participating in the “pretty game,” was no longer my choice, but my reality, has affected my whole life. Since my self worth clearly was non existent and I couldn’t even trust my own feelings about myself it was difficult to truly believe others, even those who really had my best interests at heart. The “pretty game” and my eating disorder went hand in hand. I went down this path because I wanted to fit in and feel beautiful and I unfortunately suffered because I went to the extreme. In all reality I never won, I lost big time. I was too busy trying to convince everyone else I was pretty when I should have been trying to teach myself to love me for me. I pushed my physical and mental health to their limits and it was definitely not worth it. I wasn’t happy and I was REALLY sick…how could I possibly radiate beauty if I was miserable? The answer is simple, I couldn’t. The only way I could fix this was to start to fundamentally change how I thought about myself and that is no easy feat, but I really want to give off the best and most positive vibes possible so I have to try.


Now after almost a year of treatment I can finally recognize just how crazy, as well as destructive, the “pretty game” is to all young women out there and not just myself. I am consciously choosing to avoid going down the path of comparisons and negativity. I know personally, I need to focus on seeing myself as a whole complete person whose beauty is so much greater than I’d ever give myself credit for. I hope by sharing my experience and the work I am currently doing to better myself can help others see that what truly matters is not what size pant you wear, or how much attention guys give you when you are out, but how you feel about yourself and your ability to see just how amazing you are as an individual.


Happy Thursday Everyone ❤

Today I Am Celebrating My 100th Post!!!


Today marks my 100th post for prettybrittyshines and WOW what a journey it has been! When I started my blog, almost a year ago, I had no idea whether or not I would even share it with others. I wanted to create an outlet for myself where I could post inspirational images as well as reframe the negative thoughts and feelings that consumed me. I gradually started to share prettybrittyshines with the people I love and care about and with their support, as well as enthusiasm, I have continued to try and find my voice through posting. I never, in a million years, though thought that this little blog I started would reach so many people and have such a positive influence on the lives of others.

When I decided to make prettybrittyshines more public, by putting it up on Facebook, I was in a very rough place emotionally and mentally. I was struggling in my recovery. I felt alone and in some regard unsupported so, in a somewhat selfish effort to regain control over my ED I made myself, as well as my suffering very public. I wanted to come clean about all that I have endured and I wanted people to show that they supported and cared about me, or even maybe, just maybe, that they understood me. I also really wanted to hold myself more accountable in fighting my ED. Little did I know that by opening up about my ED, and all the trials and tribulations I have endured throughout this disease, I would gain such a strong following of amazing individuals who share with me their own inspirations, as well as their hardships. Each one of you have made me stronger and I can’t thank you enough. Posting no longer is just about me and, in all honesty, it is so much more fulfilling knowing that I have an audience and that people actually appreciate what I have to say. I never imagined that I would be in the position to inspire others, but I hope you all know just how much your kind and honest words mean to me and how influential they have been in my recovery.


I now have even bigger goals and dreams for prettybrittyshines and I hope that I can continue to reach new people on a daily basis. Today I choose to celebrate my 100th post because it shows me how far I have come in this journey and also that I have the ability to stick with something I created and really bring it to life. I truly can say, and this is one of the few times that I actually mean it, but I am proud of myself and all the potential behind prettybrittyshines.

So tonight I will cheers to my journey and all the struggles I have overcome, as well as to all of you. There is so much good in the future and I can’t wait for us all to experience it!



This is how I will celebrate tonight haha if anyone feels like joining me in spirit, or in real life, please go for it! Only if you’re of legal drinking age though of course 😉