Twelve years old - I'm on a trip with my family feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of our journey and life in general. I felt so anxious that my appetite disappeared and a week later I returned to school in a smaller body. Greeted by compliments and praise, I noticed how people began to look at me different, I became an object of desire. I realized that 'sexy' was my ultimate body goal, if I was sexy then I was wanted. As a young girl searching for validation and identity this was all I needed to associate being wanted with being loved.
It didn't start to consume me until high school, where life circumstances granted stress beyond my wildest dream. My eating disorder became my only means of emotional comfort and regulation. Simultaneously, the pursuit of sexiness heightened as I started modeling, where sexy was a too tiny waist and visible collarbones. My eating disorder behaviors were not just passively accepted anymore, they were required. 4 years went by with my memory of the details in between lost from the effects of the disorder. I remember the moment though, at a conference being asked to lose even more weight in order to model across seas. I remember everything moving in slow motion and hearing a voice inside me say - this will cost you your life. To this day I can’t say I understand where that voice came from or how I had the courage to turn down the offer. But that day I chose recovery and I’m grateful every day that I did. A change in life plans and one application later – I found myself off to college.
Six years later and I’m months away from getting my masters in counseling, intensely passionate about helping others fight for their recovery. No part of it was or is easy, this recovery journey is messy. But messy in the ways that finally allow you to breath, to love again, to be at ease in your body. Along the way, I’ve found myself grateful for every thought, emotion, and experience that makes up the mess. Life has begun to look more like gallery worthy abstract art rather than a child’s finger-paint. So here I am 6 years later in this beautiful mess of recovery, fighting for others to create their beautiful recovery too.
Written By: Rae Thomas
Emily Estes lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her Goldendoodle pup, Miss Adley Mae. Recovery from her own struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression has led Emily to create community and resources to empower others on the journey. Emily owns Sage Nutrition, LLC where she serves as a Registered Dietitian. Her work revolves around her motto that "food is meant to nourish our bodies, not nurture us."