I'm sitting at my desk, looking out onto a scene of beautiful snowflakes falling on New York City. Holiday festivities are in full swing yet i'm thinking of the millions of families whose enjoyment of the season is marred by some type of eating disorder.
I've just watched a powerful short silent film made by two 13-year-old girls in Colorado, titled You Are Beautiful. In just under four minutes and with no words they tell the story of a middle school girl all alone amid her seemingly happy friends. She studies herself in the mirror, her critical eyes seeing something other than the adorable early teen that the glass shows us. At mealtime, she plays with a plate of food then dumps it in the trash.
She can't join in when all her friends dig into oozing slices of pepperoni pizza. She looks longingly at the last remaining slice, yet is unable to break free of the disorder's iron grip. She purges, her hair falls out in clumps, she faints. Even in the waiting room to see a therapist, she puts down a book on eating disorders to stare enviously at a fashion magazine featuring a model in a skin-tight pink dress. (Although what's the therapist is doing with such a magazine in her waiting room? We can forgive the filmmakers, understanding their need to compress their message.) In the last scene, the girl is in a hospital bed, tentatively reaching for a spartan plate filled with four soda crackers. It's a moment of hope.