Andrea's Story Anorexia UCSB, California

I was a chubby child growing up with a perfectly skinny twin sister. She seemed to receive all my parents and our peers' attention because she was thin. I felt ignored which developed my shyness. She dominated in almost everything that we did together. I thought that going on a diet would increase my self-esteem and get people to notice me. I did not starve myself, but I would limit my caloric intake to about eight hundred calories.

I would eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast so my parents would think I was eating properly. I wouldn't eat lunch. I'd make up excuses like I either did not have any money or I was not hungry and I would eat later. After school I would go to tennis practice on an empty stomach and exercise as much as I could for two hours.

My family always ate dinner together, so I would eat a full meal to keep everybody from assuming that I had an eating disorder. I'd always tell my mom that certain items were too fattening and I couldn't eat them.

The strange thing was that when I lost the weight people would give me the nicest compliments. The compliments felt so good, so I kept dieting. Those compliments were my reward for my control. They pushed me to diet more and lose more weight so I could get all the attention that a skinny person receives.

Eventually, my parents and friends noticed my bad eating habits. They forced me to eat and would not leave my side. I denied my eating problem for a long time, not even admitting it to my boyfriend until last year. I received a lot of support from my boyfriend, which I think helped me through my problem.

With terrific support from my friends and family, I now try to have a balanced diet instead of getting the fewest calories possible. I now feel more confident about my body and have a higher self-esteem.