Hungry all the Time

In 1999, Ana Carolina Reston crossed the stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  At thirteen years old, she had just been named Queen of Jundiai, the winner’s sash draped around her slender figure.  Her mother and father, watching from the audience, beamed with pride.

“The other girls were podgy and had bottoms,” Mrs. Reston stated, “She won because she was slim and elegant.”

But in 2004, when Ana Reston answered a casting call in China, she was told she was “too fat”.  So by 2006, standing at 5’8″, Miss Reston weighed only 88 lbs and had a BMI of 13.4 (the World Health Organization considers a BMI of 16 to be starvation).  She died of complications related to anorexia nervosa and bulimia at the age of 21.

She was the second model to die from anorexia-complications in the year of 2006.  The first, Luisel Ramos, died of heart failure after living on a diet of lettuce and Diet Coke for three months.  Miss Ramos was participating in a fashion show and had just walked off the runway when she fainted and suffered a heart attack.  She was only 22.  Her sister Eliana, also a model, died in 2007 of malnutrition.

What is even more tragic about stories like these, is that these women are among the standards of beauty in our society.  Every little girl wants to be beautiful, and they look to models and celebrities to set the bar for that beauty.  Women like Ana, Luisel, and Eliana.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized as a psychiatric illness.  Sufferers develop an eating disorder, an extreme paronoia of obesity or weight gain, and an unrealistic perception of body weight.  Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by “binge” eating and subsequent purging.  Both are often accompanied by fasting and excessive exercise.

The increasing prevelance of these disorders in our society has got some people saying, “Enough is enough and this is madness.”  But not everyone agrees.

After reading an article in Newsweek about pro-anorexic (“pro-ana”) groups, I searched on Facebook for groups related to anorexia.  I was so saddened to see a number of pro-ana groups.  Some were listed under “Beliefs & Causes”, others under “Beauty”, still others under “Food & Drink”.  Many had default pictures of skeletal supermodels, called “Thinspiration”.  Members as young as nine asked for “fasting buddies”.  “Remember nothing tastes as good as thin feels!” one member wrote on a group wall.  Others offered tips for weight loss, or excuses to use on concerned family and friends.

Obsession with beauty is nothing new.  Every culture in every era of history has been concerned with physical appearance.  The standard of beauty may differ from society to society, but the pursuit of it is a universal human passion.  Our Heavenly Father acknowledged this in 1 Samuel 16:7; “Man looks on  the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Many people call anorexia nervosa a disease, and perhaps it is.  But, in another way, it is a symptom of a much larger disease.  We starve ourselves in the pursuit of something more than attention and beauty.  We are looking for worth and love, purpose and meaning.  We are looking for something to fill the huge hole inside of us.  Those who suffer from anorexia are no different than the rest of us in their longing to fill this emptiness; they only differ in their attempt to do so.

Anorexia nervosa is essentially a hunger, and it is a hunger which cannot be satisfied.  Not just a physical hunger for food, but a hunger for perfection, satisfaction, worth, attention, and acceptance.  But it is a neverending hunger.  No number on the scale is small enough; a pair of jeans sized 00 is still too big.  Men and women literally starve themselves in their efforts to lose weight.  They look in the mirror, and where others see thin, emaciated skeletons they see obesity.  It is a tragic picture of the struggle existing in each one of us apart from Christ; an insatiable, unquenchable longing for more.  We’ve seen it in celebrities and billionaires and even our beautiful, successful friends and neighbors who “have it all” and yet are always searching for that elusive happiness.

Why is nothing good enough?  Why is there no body perfect enough, no man or woman loving enough, no friend loyal enough, no luxury satisfiying enough, no lifestyle good enough to make us happy?  Why are we constantly wearing ourselves out in this incessant, unending pursuit of something better?  We are we constantly trying to end this ravenous hunger inside of us, and why are we always empty, no matter what we do?

The reason is because we are looking in all the wrong places.

In my high school health class, I had to spend a lot of time studying anorexia and related eating disorders.  My textbook said that being anorexic meant being hungry all the time.  But the strange thing is, we are all hungry all the time.  We are hungry for love.  We are hungry for purpose.  We are hungry for a relationship with our Maker.

This is natural.  Just as our bodies were designed to be fueled by the consumption of food, and we experience pain and hunger when we deprive ourselves of that nourishment, so our souls were designed to need a relationship with Christ.  Without Him, we are hungry.

What are you trying to feed this hunger with?  Maybe you struggle with an eating disorder, or self-injury.  You may try to fill this emptiness with a relationship, or a sport or talent, or a search for wealth and success.  You may search for it in drugs, or sex, or alcohol, or partying.  Whatever your pursuit, whatever your distraction, you know better than I do how unfulfilling it truly is.  Before I surrendered my life to Christ I thought that material things and relationships with other people could make me happy.  But they always left me empty.  Only Jesus Christ can satisfy the hunger that only He was meant to appease.

Dear friend, there is so much pain and sorrow in this world.  You know this first-hand.  Whatever your struggles are, I beg you to bring them to the feet of Jesus.  He is faithful.  If you need someone to talk to, or if you have questions, please feel free to email me (Keely) at sisterskeepersjournal@gmail.com.  I would love to talk with you.

 

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;

and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;

hear, that your soul may live…”

Isaiah 55:1-3

Advertisements

One Response

  1. I’ve been realizing that anorexia, etc. probably affects people that I know. I just don’t realize it. May God open my eyes.
    I appreciate how you brought out, that anorexia, etc. is a problem, it’s just a symptom of a much bigger issue. It is very sobering to read of those who have died from such disorders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: