The Girl With The Eating Disorder Isn't Always The One Who Looks 'Scary Skinny'

You can't always tell that someone has an eating disorder.

Last updated on Sep 19, 2023

Woman creating a good relationship with food after eating disorder Dean Drobot | Canva

By Jenny Sugar

Carissa Seligman recently posted these transformation photos on her Instagram page to convey a very important message about eating disorders that doesn't get talked about much.


Photo Credit:

The girl with the eating disorder isn't always the one who looks 'scary skinny'.

RELATED: I Overcame My Eating Disorder By Treating It As A 'Friend'

She captions the above photos, "The girl with the eating disorder isn't always the one who looks 'scary skinny.' In fact, she may not even be the thinnest in the room. But what you see on the outside doesn't always translate to what is going on inside."


Carissa told POPSUGAR that her disordered eating began in 2004, when she was a junior in high school, just 16 years old.

The photo on the left was taken in 2005. When Carissa first saw the photo on the left, she said, "Oh, that was me after my eating disorder." While it was taken a year after she had started eating again, she shared, "I was very much in my eating disorder."

"I had gone through a 4ish month period of starving myself and surviving solely on caffeine and crackers. Then, I started eating again and could. not. stop. I felt awful. None of the things that spurred my starvation period had been solved, discovered, or discussed and I began to use food to fill a hole."

She went on, "So not only was I unhappy without really knowing it, but I was gaining weight which at the time was my worst nightmare. And I was doing anything I could to lose it again." 


RELATED: Getting Pregnant Spiraled Me Into An Eating Disorder

Carissa wishes she could say that she found a solution to quickly start looking and feeling great, but she didn't.

Carissa said, "Up until 2016, I was trying to get back to the weight I was during my 4-month starvation period. 11 years! 11 years of having a terrible relationship with food, my body, and my mind."

Thankfully, Carissa is happy to say it's not like that now. "I finally started to develop a healthy relationship with food, which is why I wrote this. Because I really hope it doesn't take you 11 years to start to feel better."

So how'd she make the change? Carissa explained that a few things happened in 2016. She got serious about her career and realized she was good at what she did, which contributed to her self-worth and self-esteem.


RELATED: Recovering From An Eating Disorder In A Society That Praises Weight Loss

Carissa also shared, "I stopped drinking and using alcohol as a band-aid. I was finally free to find things that brought me joy. I got back to moving, getting stronger, and feeling better." Finally, food became an ally in her life, "and now, here I am feeling and looking better than I ever have. And I'm so very grateful"

Carissa wants us to know that "self-love is work. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I can't. There's no quick fix or simple solution. The inside has to be good before the outside will be anything you can love."

So many young girls feel the pressure to look a certain way, and Carissa fears it's only going to get worse. "I hope by bringing awareness to how many women suffer from disordered eating, we can change things for future generations."


Eating disorders are very common.

According to the ANAD (Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), eating disorders affect 9 percent of the population worldwide, and 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders disproportionately affect BIOPC, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.

Second to only opioid overdose, eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses with 10,200 deaths each year as the direct result of an eating disorder — that’s one death every 52 minutes. If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating, contact the National Eating Disorder Helpline’s toll-free phone number: 1-800-931-2237.


RELATED: 3 Things You Must Know About Binge Eating Disorder (From Someone Who Has It)

Jenny Sugar is a freelance writer and former staff writer at PopSugar. She has been featured on MSN, Fox News, Yahoo News, and more.