The Emotional & Physical Benefits Of Smiling

Did you know that smiling has both emotional and physical health benefits? It does! 

We are blessed from from the moment we are born. We come equipped with the ability to smile at birth. It's true, we are all born already knowing how to smile.

When the zygomaticus major muscles in our cheeks contract, the corners of the mouth are drawn up into a smile. But what else is happening when we smile?

Better Than Chocolate

Researchers at The British Dental Health Foundation revealed that after participants were shown pictures of smiling people, their brain and heart activity was equivalent to being given the stimulation of 2,000 Chocolate bars.

Ups Your Serotonin

Serotonin is a vital component of the regulation of mood, sleep, appetite, and sexuality. The biological connection to elements of happiness in the production of Serotonin is evident. It's a two way street... good sleep, good mood, good food, and good sex will up your Serotonin production.

Smiling is a Natural Drug

Studies show that endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin are released when we smile. Together these make us feel good. Just like how exercise releases endorphins, smiling does, too. Try smiling 50 times right in row for a good boost.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Studies confirm that when you smile, your blood pressure is reduced. Smiling and laughing regularly can make a measurable difference.

Helps To Relieve Stress

Stress causes many physical reactions including an increase in blood sugar levels, disturbs the natural function of the digestive system, pulse rate increases substantially, breathing becomes faster and our breaths are more shallow.

Smiling and slowing your breathing can keep the stress from increasing and help reduce it. It's those glorious endorphins again... the feel good neurotransmitters.

Changes Our Mood & Increases Our Happiness

The British Dental Health Foundation conducted a study that showed the act of smiling dramatically improved mood. It increases happiness not only in ourselves but in those around us. Endorphins come into play here, too. Smiling tricks your mood into being more positive (faking does this, too) because the muscles we use to smile ties into how the how the brain assesses mood.

There's a theory called Facial Feedback Hypothesis that suggests that our expressions can actually intensify our feelings.

Increases Longevity

While happiness comes at every age, the smiles of our golden years can actually improve longevity. A study, published in General Psychiatry, consisting of participants over the age of 65,  concluded that those optimists were 71% less likely to die from certain causes, in contrast to pessimists.

Smiles Are Contagious

Really! Scientific studies have shown that people have a difficult time maintaining a frown when those around them were smiling. Their bodies react, their facial muscles twitching into smiles of their own. It actually takes more effort and muscles to frown.

We Are Drawn To Those That Smile


There's an attraction that happens when we see a smiling, happy, face. The smile draws us in. We want to get to know the smiler. We want share in the good feelings they possess.

A Smile Is The Best Makeup

A research study by Orbit Complete discovered that a whopping 69% of people find a makeup-free, smiling face more attractive than a makeup-wearing, non-smiling one. Another benefit of smiling is that it exercises the face, using between 5 and 53 facial muscles, helping to prevent sagging, droopy skin.

Smiling Changes Our Tone Of Voice

When we smile we project a more welcoming, warmer tone to those that are listening. Our voices convey that feeling, even if the person we're talking to cannot see us. Smiling while talking on the phone ensures a more positive and happier conversation.

We Even Benefit From A Stranger's Smile

That warm and contagious smile someone bestowed upon us actually carries over into our daily interactions with others. How's that for powerful, positive interaction?

Smiling Can Help You In Court

Smiling certainly isn't always appropriate in a courtroom setting, but when it is you may end up with lighter penalties. It's a phenomenon known as The Smile-Leniency Effect and it has shown that judges have given lighter punishments to smilers. Several court studies have revealed that it truly happens... even if you're guilty.

Universally Recognized

Anthropologists, biologists and psychologists agree that smiles are globally recognized. It's the real, teeth baring, lifted cheek inducing, squinting eye reaction that's globally recognized as a reaction to happiness.

Size Matters 
The size of your smile increases the pleasure you feel. Smiling wider than a grin reaps the most physical and emotional health benefits.

Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today,
And I started smiling too.

So.. what are you waiting for? SMILE!!! It's good for you. It's good for your physical and emotional health... and so, in turn, it's good for your recovery.

Share the cheer and good health with friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers.
Everyone benefits when we smile. 

©Weighing The Facts

compiled from:

This Week's R.I.S.E.: Make A Feel Good Image File

This Week's R.I.S.E. (Recovery Inspiration Strength Exercise) is to create a file of Feel Good Images.

1.) Collect images that:
*lift your spirits
*give you a warm, comforting feeling
*make you smile
*make you laugh
*inspire you
*relax you

2.) Place them in a file on your computer or a file folder at home.

3.) View them several times a day.

4.) Choose a favorite or two to carry with you.

5.) Hang one on your computer at your desk at work or at home (or make a collage).

6.) Enjoy them, absorb the good feelings your images give you.

 Choose images that do not relate to personal appearance, weight or body size.

You can find images online, magazines, your own personal photos, or doodle/draw your own

*There are many images that are available for download that are free for personal, noncommercial use. Please comply with copyright laws when collecting your images.

 Click the sidebar icon for more R.I.S.E.

©Weighing The Facts


Recovery Quote Of The Week: October 25, 2011

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. .... Beautiful people don't just happen.
Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross


Dove Self-Esteem Weekend 2011

a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

Positive Self-Esteem is essential to a happy, healthy life. It gives us the ability to adapt, grow, cope, and survive. It allows us to successfully navigate the frustrations, difficulties, and problems that we will inevitably be faced with along the way.

Parents are crucial to a child’s positive sense of self. A parent’s role is to provide stability, security, and love so children will flourish and grow to be self-confident, responsible, and capable. It is of great importance that parents are role models who display a positive view of self so the child will learn by example.

Self-esteem isn’t arrogant, self absorbed, or narcissistic. It’s a healthy understanding of who you are. It is liking yourself for who you are.

When a child (or adult) has a positive self-concept they are empowered, and protected. Understanding yourself, your beliefs, strengths, and even weaknesses, strengthens a child’s ability to understand, withstand, cope, and handle difficult situations and decisions...
Fostering Positive Self-Esteem In Children


Share who inspired you and why.

Check out Dove's Toolkits and Resources:

1 on 1 Activities for Girls Aged 8-12 and 13-18

A Girl’s Guide to the Digital World—How to Log Off of Digital Drama!

Self-Esteem Guide for Moms of Girls, Ages 8–11

Self-Esteem Guide for Moms of Girls, Ages 11–16

True You! Workbook for Girls 8–12

Find a meet-up group in your area

Dove® Movement for Self-Esteem | I PLEDGE TO BUILD SELF-ESTEEM IN GIRLS

Weighing The Facts:

Tests: How is your self-esteem?

Related Posts:
Building Self-Esteem
Self Empowerment: Inspirational Recovery Quotes
Body Image and Self-Esteem


Feature Your Poetry and Writings on Weighing The Facts

Would you like to be featured here, on Weighing The Facts?

Writing is a very powerful tool for many with Eating Disorders and Body Image issues. Sharing those writings is an excellent way for others to relate and be inspired.

So many times I have been told how a submission here has struck a cord, make someone feel less alone, and inspired someone in their recovery. 

Do you have original poetry/writings about your struggles, experiences, or recovery with your Eating Disorder, or Body Image? Would you like to share them with others?

Weighing The Facts would like to feature your writing so that others can relate, find support, and encouragement towards recovery.

Participation may be anonymous or credited, whichever you feel most comfortable with. Poems/writings must be your own work.

If you're interested in participating, or have any questions, just send me an email at Include your submission (as an attachment or pasted into the body of the email) and state how you would like to be credited (anonymously, a pen name, your real name, etc)I will send you an email letting you know when it has been posted.

Please check out the wonderful submissions that have already been featured here. They can be found in sidebar drop down menu.


Love Your Body Day 2011: 5 Ways To Celebrate


You are not defined by the reflection in your mirror. You are an amazing creation both inside and out. It's time to let go of the negative images you hold of your body and give it (and you) some much deserved love!

5 Ways to Celebrate Love Your Body Day

Use Body Positive Affirmations:

I treat my body with kindness. I make healthy choices that benefit my body. I am grateful to my body for all that it does for me. My body is worthy of my own love and respect.

My beauty cannot be defined by my physical appearance. My worth is constant and undeniable. Today I celebrate the beauty of my mind and my spirit. Today I appreciate the amazing and unique individual that I am.

I am grateful for my body. I nurture and take care of my body. I take time to appreciate my body for all the wonderful things it allows me to do. Today I treat my body with dignity and respect.

Put it in Writing:

list the wonderful things your body does for you.

list the wonderful things you will do for your body.

write love notes (encouraging and positive statements) to yourself and hang them on the bathroom mirror, the dash of your car, tuck one inside your pocket/purse.

Squash Negative Self-Talk:

Replace old negative inner talk with positive statements. Do it each time you find yourself thinking or saying something negative about your body and/or yourself. Say them with meaning. BELIEVE them. Positive self-talk brings about positive results. You'll be amazed!

Be Confident:

Forget about weight, size, and imperfections. Be confident in who you are. You are beautiful just as your are!

Be who you are and say what you feel 
because those who mind don't matter 
and those who matter don't mind.
Dr Seuss

Pamper Your Body and Your Mind:

Take a long, hot bath. Use scented candles, essential oils (lavender relaxes, sweet orange lifts your spirits, grapefruit energizes and cheers), or bubbles, and oils to moisturize.

Listen to your favorite music


Slip on your softest, most comfortable pjs and your old fluffy robe and settle down for the night with a book or a movie.

Give your body some extra love and appreciation today, tomorrow, and from here on out!

How are you celebrating Love You Body Day?

This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival

NOW Foundation (National Organization For Women)


This Week's R.I.S.E. Create A Recovery Soundtrack

This week's R.I.S.E. (Recovery Inspiration Strength Exercise) is to create a soundtrack for recovery.

Music can have a profound affect on our outlook, our mood, and our enjoyment. So, let's take advantage of that...

1). Make a folder for your ipod, a playlist for your computer, or a CD for the car (whatever works best for you).

2). Fill it with music that lifts your spirit, makes you feel good, and that makes you smile.

3). Listen to it daily as you get ready in the morning, (while you eat your breakfast, drive to work, get the kids ready for school ...etc).

4). Listen to it again on the drive home, while doing chores, or whenever you can, whenever you need it.

5). Sing along, dance around, enjoy yourself!

* while you're at it, why not make one full of peaceful, calming music, or nature sounds, to listen to before bed?

Why not share your song list in the comments. You may inspire the music choices of someone else.

See sidebar for more weekly R.I.S.E.

©Weighing The Facts


Recovery Quote Of The Week: October 18, 2011

Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions.
Gerald Jampolsky

More Recovery Quotes of the Week and Inspirational Recovery Quotes can be found in the sidebar menu.


This Week's R.I.S.E.: Set The Tone Of The Day

This week's R.I.S.E. (Recovery Inspiration Strength Exercise): Set the Tone of the Day

Set your alarm clock 5 minutes earlier than usual.
  Use those extra 5 minutes to set the tone for the day by ...

 1. stretching slowly in bed (like a cat)

 2. smiling (your body and mind respond to the physical act of smiling)

 3. say at least one positive statement before leaving bed

Have a great week! 

See sidebar for more weekly R.I.S.E.

©Weighing The Facts


Inspirational Recovery Quotes: Courage

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
Dorothy Bernard

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
Maya Angelou

The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.
Mignon McLaughlin

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.
John Quincy Adams

It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
Theodore Roosevelt

To him that waits all things reveal themselves, provided that he has the courage not to deny, in the darkness, what he has seen in the light.
Coventry Patmore

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
Maya Angelou

Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway.
Mignon McLaughlin

The key to change... is to let go of fear.
Rosanne Cash

Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Christopher Robin to Pooh

The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.
Corra May Harris

Come to the edge.
We can't. We're afraid.
Come to the edge.
We can't. We will fall!
Come to the edge.
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire

Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.
Arthur Koestler

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare

Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.
Robert Anthony

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.
Raymond Lindquist

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
Bruce Lee

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
Anais Nin

Fear and courage are brothers.

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Courage is to feel the daily daggers of relentless steel and keep on living.
Douglas Malloch

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.
August Wilson

Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.
George Smith Patton

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.

Courage is looking fear right in the eye and saying, “Get the hell out of my way, I’ve got things to do.”

Optimism is the foundation of courage.
Nicholas Murray Butler

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill

Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.
John Wooden

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.
John Wayne

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.
Mary Anne Radmacher

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
E. E. Cummings

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.
Jesse Jackson

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.
Earl Nightingale

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
Walt Disney

A brave arm makes a short sword long.

Courage is as often the outcome of despair as of hope; in the one case we have nothing to lose, in the other everything to gain.
Diane de Poitiers

People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage.
Mignon McLaughlin

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Mark Twain

Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.
Mark Victor Hansen

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Nelson Mandela

The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.
Sven Goran Eriksson

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
Vincent Van Gogh

One man with courage is a majority.
Thomas Jefferson

Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.
Dale Carnegie

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
Amelia Earhart

Have the courage to act instead of react.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
John F. Kennedy

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
Winston Churchill

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.
Dan Rather

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.
Victor Hugo

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities... because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
Winston Churchill

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
W. Clement Stone

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
C. S. Lewis

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.

Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.
Samuel Johnson

You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.

 See sidebar menu for more Inspirational Recovery Quotes and Recovery Quotes of the Week


World Mental Health Day 2011: Links and Information


 Mental Health Statistics

Children's Mental Health Statistics and Information

Mental Health Resources: Hotlines, Websites, Organizations

MHA (Mental Health America)

Finding Help
Finding Treatment
Parity Laws

US Dept Of Health And Human Services

Children and Families
Organizations and Financing

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Eating Disorders
Bipolar Disorder
Major Depression
Borderline Personality Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
More: By Illness
Find Support

National Institute Of Mental Health

Outreach Partnership Program

Prescription Assistance Programs

Needy Meds
RX Assist
Partnership For Prescription Assistance
NAMI Prescription Assistance Programs
Merck Programs For Those In Need
The Access Project
Disability Resources Org
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
MHA Prescription Payment Assistance

Additional Links:
Mental Health Resources By State
Mental Health Matters
Mental Health Resources On The Web For Families (PDF)
National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
When You Can't Afford Treatment


Recovery Quote Of The Week: October 8th, 2011

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.
Will Rogers

See sidebar for more Recovery Quotes of the Week, and Inspirational Recovery Quotes.


R.I.S.E. Recovery Inspiration Strength Exercise


R.I.S.E. (Recovery Inspiration Strength Exercises) are activities meant to give a little positive boost to self-esteem, body image, and self-talk to help strengthen recovery efforts.

Each week a simple and easy activity will be listed in the sidebar marquee (located below the morning and bedtime affirmations. Previous R.I.S.E can be found by clicking the icon in the sidebar).

I hope you find them helpful.

This Week's R.I.S.E. 

1. Write down your favorite positive affirmation on paper or index cards. Make it something that you really need to hear. Make several of them.

2. Put them where you'll see them often (suggestions: bathroom mirror, dash of your car, over your bed, the door use use to leave the house, in your purse to read whenever you need it).

3. Each time you see it take a moment to read it, say it aloud, mean it! Choose just one or two affirmations, duplicated on your index cards, one per card (or paper).

4. Believe! 

©Weighing The Facts

Numerically Speaking: An Eating Disorder By The Numbers

Numerically Speaking
By Carrie M. O’Connor

Pounds of dark chocolate that I ate slowly that Saturday morning while analyzing the e-vite that my ex-boyfriend, Andre, sent me.
The pounds gained since I last saw him six months ago.
The ex-girlfriends on the 50-person invitation list.

After the last piece, I dialed my friend, Mattie.
“I’ve been invited to Andre’s 50th birthday party slash housewarming. His artist colony now has 15 members and is officially open to all lost Cincinnati artists with angst who need guidance and inspiration. And he’s invited several ex-girlfriends. But why am I surprised? They are ever-present.”
“Calm down. Stop talking so fast. Are you going?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I know a good many of these artists socially. I really should go. According to the e-vite, the colony is now on Facebook and in the local news. He’s become a celebrity.”
“Well, Jenn, we always knew he was a player. And you know how the song goes. Players only love you when they’re playing. How about we meet up to talk more about this? I’m meeting Jackie at Essencha Teahouse in half an hour. Bring your laptop.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you soon.”

I stared at the e-vite again. I frowned at the photo of the Bella Roma rose bushes blooming against the side of the white duplex. I remembered, with regret, transplanting those delicate pink blossoms three years ago. This followed the exhausting task of cleaning Andre’s former house the day after I helped him move. When I’d arrived home, I’d spent 30 minutes in the hot shower, trying to wash away the smells of Ajax, manure and sweat.
At that point, we had been going out for two months. We met at a gallery opening where he promptly invited me out for coffee, a discussion of postmodern art in Pakistan, and sex.

Pounds that I had just lost before meeting him that summer.
Years, prior to Andre, that I had a sex partner, because I felt ashamed of my body.
Dates before I went to bed with him.
The connection was insanely intense, despite the continual mention of his former girlfriends. I allowed him to speak the litany of names. Each time, a jealous fire burned through me.
There were

Girlfriends whom I know about.

1. Alice. “The night before Alice moved out, she walked into the kitchen in a T-shirt without panties. I rubbed her ass, and she just melted.”
2. Jana. “Jana couldn’t achieve orgasms because of her medication.”
3. Wendy. “Wendy wouldn’t let me perform oral sex on her — you’d be surprised how often that is the case.”
4. Suzette. “Suzette was my 4-foot-10 Catholic girlfriend. She got completely drunk at the first party I took her to. But we stayed together for a couple years.”
5. Laura. “Then, the investment banker, who spoke beautiful Spanish.”
6. Stella. “Stella, the book agent. It just didn’t work out. That reminds me, I need to dig a rock out of her garden for her.”

Every time a name was mentioned, I put down the feminist theory book I was reading. While I wanted to be a strong, self-sufficient, empowered woman, I was determined to make him want me.

The pounds that I lost while I dated him, to tack onto the 60 previous pounds I took off before meeting him, thanks to Weight Watchers.
Five Hundred
Dollars on clothes and pedicures to make myself alluring.
Three Hundred
Dollars in gifts for him. He liked gadgets. I found the self-cleaning electric shaver, the crepe pan from Crate and Barrel, the juicer.

Two weeks after I helped him move, over wine and vegetarian sushi in Ault Park, he told me that he had not felt any emotional connection during our two-month romance.
I protested.
“We’ve only been going out two months, and you’ve been working on your artist colony. Of course there’s no emotional connection. We’ve barely had time for one another.”
“Look, I want dazzling chemistry,” he’d said.
It was true that he’d had a singles ad once that said he was looking for a woman that would be like the refreshing river bank that he would never leave. I wondered what Freud or Jung would make of the flowing water image.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth in you the last two months, though. You know, in your weight and sexuality. Really, I just want to be your friend,” he said.
Looking at the park’s peonies and iris plants, I unapologetically cried.
“So, do you want to go see a movie?” he asked.
“You just dumped me!”
“Well, I do like to stay friends with all my ex-girlfriends. I’ve traveled with two of them. Slept with them in the same hotel bed with nothing happening.”
A few weeks later he called and invited me over. He proposed the friends-with-benefits clause to the newly-instated friend contract. I don’t want to be your boyfriend. But you know what I like and I know what you like. And if someone else comes along, we will stop seeing each other.
It was compelling. Perhaps I would be finally praiseworthy and redeemed in his sight.

Minutes before we were in his bedroom.
Nights a month, on the average.
Years before I ended it.

Sex. Silence. Sex. Silence.
I couldn’t take the silence.
I pushed the memories away and focused on getting dressed for the teahouse. I looked in the full-length mirror. I had on my standard attire — jeans, a black T-shirt, and a strand of faux pearls. At 40, I probably should have cared about makeup, but I didn’t. I slicked my hair back into a tight chignon.
I threw a bracelet at the mirror in frustration. I hated my body. I wanted to apply a paring knife to my pear-shaped body. The e-vite only renewed my discomfort with my body image. I tried to comfort myself with the fact that the corticosteroid medication I took for my adrenal problems caused weight gain.

The drive to Essenchia Teahouse and Pleasant Ridge was anything but agreeable. It was a fiercely raining day. No one was on the street except a group of Orthodox Jewish men dressed in black going to morning shul and walking on the left. The scene had a Renoir feel to it, and “The Umbrellas” came to mind. I realized that I really missed discussing art with Andre.
When I entered the teahouse, I found Mattie and Jackie sitting at a large table near a shelf displaying glass cups and white tea pots. I put my netbook down.
“I’ll have a house salad, no dressing, and iced China-breakfast tea, please,” I said to the slim server, noting with envy she was wearing a tiny, white linen Edwardian camisole, which complemented her figure perfectly.
“Only a salad?” Mattie asked, sipping her Earl Grey with lemon.
“Yes. Unfortunately, I had a date with chocolate this morning,” I said.
“Oh, dear,” said Jackie, my psychologist friend. “Just eating, right?”
She was delicately trying to ask if I had purged, as well.
“You know my M.O. I just eat. And get fatter. I can’t stop binging, but I hate how I look.”
“You are on fat-inducing meds, too, Jennifer,” Mattie said, in a comforting tone.
“Yeah, but we all know what the issues really are here. Anyway, I’m back in diet mode,” I said.
“Ah, restricting after binging. Really healthy,” Jackie said.
“I feel like I have to do something. We all know how obsessed with weight Andre is. He weighs himself every day and graphs it. He’s an obsessed athlete who hates fat,” I said.
“You’re curvy,” Mattie said.
“Fat. And in need of a butt bra. He likes slender women with nice asses.”
“They do sell lifters now. And padded panties. Quite the fashion,” Mattie said.
“Please, enough body talk,” Jackie said.
“Easy enough for you, Miss Size 2,” I said.
“So, let’s see the e-vite,” Mattie said.
I turned on the computer and promptly displayed the page.
“Nice colors considering the limited design possibilities,” Mattie said.
“And these are all the ex-girlfriends. You’ve heard about them before,” I said.
Jackie rolled her eyes. “Right. He has always been the stud wanting to scatter his seed. So, why do you want to torture yourself going to this party?” Jackie said.
“There’s still something. A connection,” I said.
I crossed my arms tightly across my chest and stared down.
“Hello? I do this for a living. I’m giving you my assessment, free of charge. He’s a narcissist. The best way to handle a narcissist is to stroke his ego and get the hell away. Stay away from him,” Jackie said.
“I think you just want to reform a bad boy,” said Mattie, who had just broken off a romance with a kinky painter who liked to be tied up with silk scarves.
“I don’t think this guy can be reformed unless he hits the therapy couch. And I’ll bet you anything that he won’t. Don’t go to this party,” Jackie said.
“I’ll think about it. I guess part of it is that I’m curious about the new place, too,” I said.
“That’s an entirely different issue. Believe me, you date him, you date the whole colony. It’s worse than college. He needs that colony to feel good about himself. He likes to have people admiring him,” Jackie said.
“And Lord knows, his women have. Anyway, no one is even curious? No one wants to see this experiment?” I asked.
“No thanks,” Mattie said.

The food arrived: cold smoked salmon sandwiches, lemon curd crepes, leafy greens, triple-chocolate brownies. The conversation shifted to the mundane — removing pet stains from the carpet, intrusive mothers, summer vacation plans. An hour passed, and the server cleared the table.
I thought about all the eateries Andre and I had visited. Italian, Ethiopian, Mexican, vegetarian. We would go home and watch DVDs. I liked foreign; he liked action. We took turns ordering on the Netflix account. We would begin making out the minute the credits hit the screen.
We finished the meal and paid the check.
“Well, I’ll be around next weekend, if you change your mind about the party,” Jackie said.
“Thanks,” I said, suddenly grateful for my friends.
Mattie and Jackie stayed and walked around the teahouse to look at the tea cups on sale. I walked outside and found that the rain had stopped. I steered my car toward the mall and Lane Bryant, which sold fashionable clothes for the woman who reached the unbearable size of 14 and above. I perused the racks and found a pretty chiffon blue halter dress. Andre liked blue. Elastic waist. Perfect. I took it to the counter and dropped $100 that I really could not spend and went home.
When I got home, the light on the answering machine was blinking.
“Jenn, it’s Andre. Just wanted to say that I hope that you can make the party. Should be a lot of fun.”
I smiled instantly. He still thought of me. Getting out the phone book, I found the number for A Salon Named Desire and set a makeup appointment for the morning of the party.
That week, I ate hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, grapefruit, lean meat and Diet Coke. This was the first diet that my mother gave me, when I was 14. I spent an hour in the gym every night leading up to the party.
Finally, it was Friday. I took an Ambien at night, because I was too nervous to sleep. Nestled against the white cotton down pillows, I fell asleep quickly.
Bon fires everywhere against the Irish countryside. Everyone has had their fill of ale and game. We have all been smudged and purified with juniper smoke. Andre’s ex-girlfriends and I are dancing like MTV stars around him. I walk forward and bow. “Thank you for choosing me, though I know that I am not great like the others you have chosen.” He cups his hands around my chin and smiles. He walks around the circle, kissing each woman on the cheek.
I woke up with pain in my chest. Sebastian, my 18-pound cat, stood on my torso and demanded in loud, hoarse meows to be fed. The vet wants him on a diet, too. The red numbers on the digital alarm clock told me that it was 9 a.m. I meant to get up earlier.
After preparing a strong cup of coffee, I bathed and put the halter dress on. The phone rang.
“Jenn, it’s Nat. I hope you’re coming? I haven’t seen you in ages, and I want to introduce you to my new boyfriend.”
Natalie, a print maker, had gone out on double dates with Andre and me. I always hated double dating with Andre. I felt like I needed to win the approval of his friends, so dinner was never enjoyable.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
I drove to A Salon Named Desire to have my makeup done. My stomach shifted uneasily as I imagined the dialogue that I would have with Andre and others. When I got to stop signs, I practiced smiling into the mirror.
“I need to look great for a party this morning,” I explained to the young girl at the salon who called herself Zella. She had tattoos depicting jungle plants and birds around both arms. Her nose was pierced.
“I’m going to use the moss green and lemon yellow. I think these will really make your eyes pop,” she said.
“I really need to impress an old boyfriend,” I said.
“And you will!” she said.

Dollars for the makeup job.
Dollars for two eyeshadow palettes.
Minutes to be transformed into beauty.

My confidence was restored as I drove downtown listening to Pink. The rain was starting again, but I didn’t care. Andre would have to move his party inside. I turned the corner and slammed on the breaks. Cars were lined up on both sides of the road.
A man lay on the ground, his motorcycle on its side half a block ahead. I pulled over to the side. I walked over to the scene where a thick crowd was starting to gather.
“He’s in some kind of a seizure. He just came right off the bike,” a woman with a red cap said.
“Is there someone here with medical knowledge?” a voice asked.
“I’ve called 911,” an older woman with short gray hair called.
I stared at the 1980 Wide-Glide motorcycle and at the motorcyclist with his black helmet and boots. My heart started to race. I had no feeling below my knees. Heat gathered around my head. Sweat began to pour from my forehead. I kept pushing the droplets away.
“Are you all right, dear?” the older woman asked me.
“Fine. I’m just going to sit in my car.”
When I got inside, I locked all the doors. And breathed deeply. I didn’t like motorcycles.

Years ago, three guys on Harleys raped me and my two friends.
Weeks later I determined that I was pregnant.
Months later I had an abortion.

We kept silent because drunk girls partying with bad boys do.
I can’t handle the silence.
The police and medical personnel arrived to assist the injured cyclist. The sirens cut through me. I looked at the clock. I was completely numb and unaware of time. After the police let us leave the accident scene, I stopped by the nearest convenience store.

Hostess cupcakes were unraveled and popped into my mouth within minutes.
Quart of milk helped me wash them down.
Minutes later, I arrived at the intake area of the Eating Disorders Unit at Rogers Memorial Hospital.

A rail-thin girl sat to the side, rocking back and forth. Desperate Housewives blasted from the flat-screen TV on the wall. Somehow, this broadcasted display of dysfunction seemed appropriate. The nurse who handled my case finally called me into a room to interview me. She was three times my size. So much for your corporate wellness program, I thought.
“When was your last binge?” she asked, writing notes in a file across the table.
“And it was?”
“Twenty-five cupcakes.”
The other questions were fired off in succession. Year of first menses. Date of last menses. Intervals of binging. Lowest weight. Highest weight. Present weight. Height. Telephone numbers of doctors, relatives, employers, insurance companies.
Intake registered me in the outpatient program. I started the next day.

Hours with therapists and dieticians.
Times a week.
Three Hundred and Thirty
Dollars a day.

I put it on my credit card.
After three months, I went a week without binging. I stopped calling Andre. I only stole looks at his Facebook page on occasion. And I gathered my best friends to tell them about my past.
I broke the silence.

Carrie M. O'Connor earned a master of arts in journalism and communications from Marquette University. She has worked as a reporter and freelance writer in Honolulu and Milwaukee. Recently, she was a guest essayist on WUWM and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Her fiction has appeared in Bamboo Ridge, Bartleby Snopes and Auscult, a literary journal of the Medical College of Wisconsin. You can read more from Carrie at her blog, Heartland Living on a Budget
  This piece was published in Wild Violet literary magazine in September, 2011.

*See sidebar menu for Eating Disorders and Body Image submissions.


Eating Disorders News And Views October 1st, 2011

Protect Our Girls and Pass the Self-Esteem Act

The simple fact is there's an epidemic crisis of confidence affecting girls and women, and both its causes and effects are going largely ignored and unspoken in and by the mainstream.

We're asking for support to pass federal legislation requiring advertising and editorial that's meaningfully changed the human form through photoshopping or airbrushing to carry "Truth in Advertising" labels. The labels will simply state that the models shown have been altered. No judgments, no morality, just clarity. Clarity that may help address and stem these horrifying numbers:

- 42% of girls in grades 1-3 want to be thinner
- 51% of 9-10 year old girls feel better about themselves when they're dieting
- 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies; by the time they're 17, 78% of them will be
- By the time they're 17, these girls have seen 250,000 TV commercials telling them they should be a decorative object, sex object or a body size they can never achieve (actually, Donna gave me this statistic, so no doubt you;re quite familiar.)
- 7 million girls and women under 25 suffer from eating disorders
- 80% of women feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty ad. $20B is spent on beauty marketing in the US annually. That's a lot of money being spent making women feel worse about themselves.
To Sign and Read in full: Self-Esteem-Act

Research & Treatment for Teens with Eating Problems

Columbia University Medical Center

About the Study
An MRI Study of Adolescents with Bulimia Nervosa

We are interested in learning why some people develop eating disorders. We are recruiting girls (ages 12-19) who have a problem with binge-eating and purging and girls who do not.

Participation in this study involves interviews, games and puzzles, as well as taking pictures of your brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There are no known health hazards associated with MRI.

Treatment, free of charge, will be provided for girls in need. Compensation (up to $400) will also be provided for participation. Parental consent is required for girls under 18 years of age.
Read in full: Teens with ED Problems

Proposed Legislation: Warning Labels On Photoshopped Ads?

A newly proposed piece of legislation proposes to mandate that all advertisements whose images have been altered with Photoshop bear a warning label alerting the public to the practice. Husband and wife team Seth, a former CAA Agent and Global CMO of Live Nation, and Eva Matlins, co-founders of online women’s magazine Off Our Chests see the modification of women’s bodies without it being made clear “a wrongful act that’s led to increasing cases of emotional disorders.”

The answer, they believe, is government action. “Similar conversations have taken over the past few years,” they write in a press release. “However, to date, no action has taken place in the U.S.” In response, the Matlins propose The Self Esteem Act in order to encourage government and media to work together to address the body issues plaguing women and girls in the country.
Read in full: Warning Labels

Sexy Anna Rexia: Eating Disorders As Machisma

It’s almost October and you know what that means: Here come the goblins, ghosts, witches, and sluts!

The sleaziness of women’s (and little girls’) Halloween costumes has become an annual gripe for mommies and feminists.

But my friend Jeannine Gailey, PhD, a sociologist at Texas Christian University, clued me in on what might be the most appalling costume ever created: Anna Rexia, the sexy side of a life-threatening eating disorder.

Read in full: Anna Rexia 

Somerset Woman Shortlisted to Win Grant to Help People With Eating Disorders

A WEDMORE woman is in the running to win a £10,000 grant to help people with eating disorders – but needs your vote.
Jane Smith supported two of her daughters through anorexia and in 2004 set up the Anorexia Bulimia Care’s befriending service, which supports families affected by an eating disorder via the telephone or email.
Now cosmetic giant Avon has shortlisted Jane in its Hello Tomorrow Fund 2011, along with five other finalists from across the country. Jane said she was delighted to be shortlisted and the money could make a real difference to the charity, which receives thousands of calls each month.
She said: “I speak to around 2,000 people a year personally. The £10,000 grant from Avon would make a real difference to my wish to develop an Anorexia Bulimia Care’s befriending service. I ask local people to vote for our project now and help make my dream a reality.”
Jane’s daughters suffered eating disorders aged 11 and 13, but have since fully recovered.
Jane said: “Our whole world turned upside down. We were a happy, loving family and then we were suddenly plunged into a nightmare. You can’t force someone to eat against their will.
“Our 11-year-old lost a third of her body weight over eight weeks and had to be tube fed for two weeks, for 24 hours a day.”
Read in full: Shortlisted


I recently found out that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Wow! A month to honor fat kids! Way to go!!!
Sorry. It’s a month devoted to ending childhood obesity. And the state of Georgia has a poster child. Or should I say poster children?
I suppose it pays to have clout. After all, if the First Lady of the United States wants to declare a month after her personal pet project, who am I to complain? If I were the First Lady, I may declare a month after something close to my heart as well. I just MAY declare MAY as: Everyone Loves Everyone Else No Matter What They Look Like Month!  (ELEENMWTLLM!).
Read in full: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Heidi Diaz, Kimkins creator, is one of this years inductees into the 2011Rogues Gallery.

The Rogues Gallery was designed to hold people like Heidi Diaz.  She had no problem being the first person to snuggle up to the otherwise reviled Kevin Trudeau.  She duped people out of money, she lied about a diet that was found to be unhealthy and has since modified the diet and continues to try to sell it.  She asked people to send her cheques when the court ordered her Paypal account money because she claimed that was the only money she had.  She lied so often and so poorly it is amazing that she is not sitting in jail....She is an unrepentant con woman who continues to operate her website, but now she has finally added the court ordered warning to her page.  It is in the barely visible colour of off-white on a white background.

Seriously, her own webpage says she has engaged in false advertising fraudulent business practices.
Read in full:  Heidi Diaz Rogues Gallery

Dieting NZ Women, Girls 'Losing Chance of Children

Kiwi women and girls are dieting their way out of a chance to have children, says a leading fertility specialist.
Dr Stella Milsom says young women should slow down, eat more and exercise moderately - or pay "too great a price".
The Auckland Fertility Associates endocrinologist said she was sick of reading stories trumpeting the weight loss of the same celebrities who visited her clinic for treatment.
"It really frustrates me when I see my patients written up in the women's magazines when I know they've got the bones of an 80-year-old."
Read in full: Losing Chance of Children

Physician Focus: Eating Disorders on the Rise

As many as 10 million females and 1 million males in the U.S. are affected by eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. These conditions are often hard to detect, carry great shame, and present severe physical and mental health problems for patients. Many of those afflicted are young adolescents, teenagers and young adults.

The vast majority of patients with anorexia and bulimia some 85-95 percent are women. Binge eating disorder affects about 2 percent of all adults up to 4 million Americans, affecting slightly more women than men. Recent studies have discovered an increasing incidence of these disorders among males. The peak onset of these conditions occurs during late puberty and in the late teenage and early adult years.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a refusal to maintain a normal body weight through self-induced starvation. Bulimia nervosa consists of episodes of binge eating consuming large amounts of food in a short amount of time in a way that feels out of control followed by actions to compensate for overeating, such as vomiting, restricting food or the use of laxatives. Those suffering from anorexia and bulimia have common traits: they fear gaining weight, are fixated on losing weight, and are very dissatisfied with their bodies. Binge eating disorder consists of consuming large amounts of food but without the compensatory actions to purge one's system; it's often associated with obesity.

Medicine has yet to pinpoint the specific causes of these illnesses, but we do know that certain factors contribute to them. Among them are cultural issues, such as the pressure to be thin or fit a certain body size or image, and stressful psychological situations, such as traumatic events in childhood, troubled personal relationships, or major changes in life.
Read in full: Eating Disorders Rise

Is Your Child Cutting?

Self-inflicted behaviors include cutting and burning oneself without the intent of suicide. It is a new trend that is becoming glorified especially on the internet. Here's how to identify such behavior and how to help your child.

It appears that there are a plethora of websites dedicated for the instruction and glorification of self-inflicted behaviors (SIB). One research study examined 100 videos on the internet regarding SIB and found that there were 2 million hits on some of these websites. 80 percent of these videos had no viewer restrictions. 58 percent had no warning of content. The question stands, “Do these types of websites glorify and encourage self-abuse?” With the amount of activity on these websites, it would seem that non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) has developed a cult following.

Here are some facts about NSSI:

1. Cutting and burning usually occurs in adolescent females with the average age of 16.

2. The cutting and burning usually occurs on arms, legs and torso. These areas are easily covered by bracelets and clothing.
Read in full: Is Your Child Cutting?

sources linked above