Southern Belle

...currently writing from Westlake Village, CA

Growing up, there was always a pressure, (even though not always expressed verbally) to be perfect; whether it was in appearance, academics, or extracurricular activities. Growing up in the south, a huge emphasis was placed on being a "proper southern girl."

I have struggled with anorexia and exercise addiction since the age of 14. (I'm now 35.) So negative body image has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I have had several low points but I'd say October of 2014 was the lowest. My eating disorder and exercise was out of control and my therapist was insisting I go into inpatient treatment. After years of trying numerous inpatient and outpatient treatments I was ready to get better. I agreed to go into treatment, but my insurance wouldn't cover it. It was at that time I decided I was ready to take on the challenge of recovery.

At the time I decided I was ready to beat my eating disorder, I had just started dating a guy that was extremely supportive in my recovery. Along with him and several great friends, I finally had the support I needed to make positive changes in my behaviors and how I viewed myself.

My message for others that deal with body image issues or eating disorders is to ask for help from friends, family, a therapist, or a support group. Support from others is what helped me to get into active recovery. I have stayed there for almost 9 months now. I still struggle with my issues but feel like I have the support system in place to overcome the things that I may run into.

- Leann Crossno