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Love Every Inch

By Mattie McGarey--I have to admit, I used to always feel self-conscious when people asked the question, “Aren’t you a little… old to be a Girl Scout?” The answer of course was always “No”; Girl Scouts empowers girls to make change in their communities and throughout most of my life I never felt like I was living up to this expectation.

But as I entered my senior year I was given the opportunity to attempt to earn my Gold Award. This is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and is supposed to motivate girls to find something in their community that they care deeply about and that they want to change in a way that will leave a lasting impact.

At this point in my life I began to devote more of my time to dance and eventually I began taking Pointe. I should mention that the dance world is filled with so much pressure to be perfect that it’s a wonder more people don’t break under its stress. Pointe seems to constantly reinforce the idea that if you’re not next to weightless, you can never succeed. I think this is why many girls that I had been with in dance for years began to develop unhealthy eating habits.

I tried to talk to them about it but the more I tried, the more I realized how in the dark I truly was about eating disorders. I felt useless and like I had failed these girls who I considered my family. It began getting worse and I started to see how widespread of a problem that this was in my high school, in my city, and in other communities that I was a part of.

The only upside about this was that I finally found something that I was passionate about changing. I was tired of seeing the lives of people that I loved consumed by their disorder and I felt called to confront this issue.

My goal was to create a blog as an online resource for people experiencing these disorders or who wanted to help a friend. I found that an online resource would be better for those seeking help as it was anonymous yet also personal for those who wanted to contact me. I had the chance to speak with the director of admissions at the Denver branch of the Eating Recovery Center as well as an eating disorder therapist who helped run a local high school’s body positive group.

As I continued to gather information on eating disorders and began writing posts for the blog I suddenly realized that I was missing something major. After starting the blog I understood that more than anything I needed to interview people in recovery. This personal aspect of my blog was what had been missing from all of the research I did while trying to help my friends. I know now that sometimes the only thing that can help you through tough times in an eating disorder is knowing that someone else has been in your shoes and survived to become the best version of themselves.

I was able to interview many people, both men and women. Some allowed me to post their experience with their disorder and recovery on the blog and some I was able to just talk to and get a better feel for the community that I was addressing. I was in awe of the strength each and every survivor had as they fearlessly told their story to me and allowed me to discuss part of their lives that is seen as such a taboo topic in our culture.

This entire project culminated in a talk I gave to a group of high schoolers in my city. It was amazing to see other people my age as invested in this problem as I was and we were all able to talk openly about a problem that is so widespread at our age yet seems to never be addressed in a straightforward way. I am so grateful to have been able to have this experience and to provide help and support to people in need. Now when people ask why I was a Girl Scout for so long I can tell them that I was busy changing my community, one interview at a time.

About this blogger: Mattie McGarey is a freshman at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she is majoring in Philosophy with a minor in Dance. She is a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority on her campus as well as an advanced dancer at The Schiff Dance Collective in Boulder. As a Girl Scout she completed her Gold Award and worked to create a body positive blog that would start an open and honest conversation about eating disorders. The link to her blog can be found at loveveryinch.weebly.com

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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