by Rachel Lee Carter
“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you”
-Song of Solomon 4:7
It’s difficult to see ourselves as physically flawless, especially if we’ve suffered from weight gain, excessive weight loss, scars, birthmarks, acne, and so on. I’ve battled with some of these issues myself, and God must continue to remind me that I am made in His image and I am beautiful (Song of Solomon 1:15).
Throughout my career as a professional model, my weight has fluctuated. Although I have had to learn that this is typical of a female’s body, it was difficult to bear because I’d been so thin my whole life. I was even taunted for being too skinny. But early on in my career, while living in New York City, I began to put on weight. My agency noticed and brought me in for review. I had just turned nineteen, and my body was changing. My hips widened, my thighs plumped up, and even my shoulders rounded out. I was a healthy size eight but bigger than my agency liked.
The pressure to get back to my original size was overwhelming. Without saying it, my booker implied that I—by any means necessary—should slim down. Fortunately, that agency is now out of business.
When weight loss regimens didn’t work, I joined an expensive gym in Union Square Park. I worked out every day, usually two to three hours a day. When those means didn’t succeed, I began to cut calories, drastically. I ate seven hundred calories a day and burned off a thousand. My knees were going bad because of the added stress and strain, and my health began to decline. But all I could focus on was slimming down. Amazingly, my
stubborn body was not cooperating, and weight loss wasn’t happening fast enough. That’s when I decided to purge.
Purging is a nice way of saying vomiting. I distinctly remember eating a piece of lettuce, then forcing myself to throw it up so as not to retain any of the calories. This dangerous process lasted for about three weeks. I was
scared I had stooped to such a low. Why was I willing to physically and mentally destroy myself for someone else’s pleasure and demands?
Sitting on the bathroom floor after having purged once more, I cried out to God. I confessed I was out of control and I needed to be rescued. Desperate to change my ways, I went to my agency for help. Instead, I
was dropped. Only God could save me.
I backed away from the industry altogether and welcomed my weight as it was. It saved my life. For two years, I battled evil, bulimic thoughts. “Just one more time” and “only after dessert” were the types of phrases that rang in my ear. I struggled but resisted the temptation.
After recovering from the mental anguish that bulimia creates, I was able to get my weight under control but only for a short time. Five years later, I was living and working in London and booked a fantastic job in
Majorca, an island off the coast of Spain. This is an excerpt from a letter to my mother from that trip:
Saturday, June 27: Today has been one of the biggest nightmares I could have ever imagined. It hurts just as much to recall it and write it down as it did to experience it, but here goes: The client asked me to leave a few hours ago because he said my face is heavier than it was when I cast for the job. He said they booked me on the next flight back to London leaving at 5:50 p.m. (It’s now 2:30 p.m.) When I tried to tell him my weight was the same as it was at the audition, he became aggressive and said I was being “lippy” and he just wanted me out of there! I don’t know what I’m feeling at this stage. I’m hurt, disappointed, and lonely. I don’t have anyone to fend for me. The agency is closed, I can’t contact my booker—and what would I say anyway?
To top it off, I was witnessing to the makeup artist this morning and even now she is siding with them. I know I’m not thin and bony like the other model, Sandra, but I was told I was being booked because I’m sporty. I’m a basketball player, swimmer, runner, and a woman . . . but I’m not a twig! I guess I’ve always put up my dukes when I’ve gotten hurt, and Mom, this really hurts. At this point, I don’t even want to stay here with these people. I just want to wake up from this nightmare and be back home in London.
Wow! Revisiting this stirs raw emotions in me. I remember crying over this and feeling so much shame. My body belongs to the Lord, who made me female—and all the highs and lows that sometimes come with being female. Fortunately, I’d made up my mind. I would not return to eating disorders. Instead, I turned to the Lord. “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6). I found comfort in Him who fashioned me to be female.
If you or someone you know struggles with bulimia or anorexia nervosa, there is help available. Please reach out—“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”