My name is Kate (Kathleen) Dearman.
Female self-esteem is a one of the few things that I am willing to jump up on a soapbox about. Ask any of my friends what happens when I hear someone say something like, “Ugh, I am fat,” or “I am so ugly.” I get angry. It breaks my heart to hear girls tear themselves apart with negative self-talk.
Almost anyone who has had any conversation beyond small talk with me knows that I had an eating disorder in high school. Anyone who was close to me during that time knows how radically different that experience has made me in terms of who I am today. I can speak from experience when I say I know where negative self-talk [body-bashing/fat talk/calling yourself ugly etc.] leads. It’s nowhere good.
My favorite comment I hear from girls when they find out I had an eating disorder is, “I would never take it that far.” Ha. [warning: this next line is oozing with sarcasm.] It almost seems like some people think I woke up one morning and said, “Ok guys, Today’s the day! Mission eating disorder engage!”
That’s not how it happened. It started with simple thoughts like, “I am not beautiful/thin enough.” Those thoughts manifested into, “If only I looked like_____, then ______ would give me the time of day.”
And those thoughts led to actions. I started limiting my diet extensively. (yeah, I was that girl that counted the calories in things like saltine crackers.) and I started exercising for upwards of 4 hours a day. I lost a lot of weight. People noticed. At first, the comments with positive lines such as, “Wow! You look great!” “Keep up the hard work.” Too bad nobody knew that I was literally forcing my body into starvation.
It didn’t take too long for those comments to change from “You look great/ Wow!” to “Kate, you’re starting to worry me.” “Kate, you have gotten really thin.”
I am so thankful for the people who stepped in and stopped me from spiraling out of control. The family and friends who refused to take a sidelines role in my life during that time will probably never know how much their presence meant to me.
The night I “hit rock bottom” so to speak, I was back stage at a pageant and had just finished my talent performance. The next minutes that followed are still blurry to this day, but I distinctly remember waking up on the ground, naked, with my friend trying to feed me Oreos to raise my blood sugar. I had passed out. My response to my state of being was simply, “Hey, I am naked. Can I put some clothes on?”
This is the first time I realized I had a problem. It took me another month or so to call it what it was: an eating disorder. It took me a good year to get back to a normal state. The patience and love that my mom and close friends showered me with during that period are parallel to none.
None of my friends or family focused on my problem during my recovery process. Instead, they spent their energy telling me how valuable I was to them and that I didn’t have to constantly try to make myself better for them. They told me I was enough.
The kindest words anyone has ever told me are, “You’re enough.” I want other girls to know they are enough. They don’t need to listen to the voices around them telling them they need to do X, Y, or Z to become beautiful and worth something. To any girl who is reading this who wonders if she is good enough/pretty enough/ thin enough etc.? All I have to say is you were created as enough.
After going through an eating disorder and self-esteem issues myself, I feel a strong call to show girls that they are beautiful just as they are- with or without makeup, no matter their jean size, no matter what some pop-culture outlet is telling them.
That’s my story in a nutshell. That’s why hearing girls constantly tearing themselves apart with words gets to me. Our bodies are awesome. The things the human body can do are a miracle in and of themselves. Our bodies are a gift. I want to show girls they have been given a beautiful gift to take care of and appreciate rather than a project that constantly needs improvement.
A close friend of mine gently reminded me once, “Do you agree that God created you exactly as you are for a reason? If so, why do you keep trying so hard to change what He made?”
If you have any questions about my experience or would just like to sit down and talk, please feel free to contact me. I would love to chat with you.