NEDAW: Kick-off the Week with an Excerpt from Dr. Bulik

Yesterday marked the official start of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!  In an effort to educate readers and generate discussion, we will be providing a new post every day this week.  We hope that these blog entries will allow you to step out of your busy schedule and reflect on what this week represents.  

ImageYoung girls are only graced with a few years when they are not self-conscious. Watching little girls play, run, swim with abandon without any awareness of being watched or judged is a beautiful experience—until the bubble pops. Far too early, little girls become aware of “the Look.” Almost overnight, their carefree sprit retreats as self-consciousness takes center stage. Excerpted from The Woman in the Mirror: How To Stop Confusing What You Look Like with Who You Are (, the following story about Maya illustrates this disheartening transition.

Maya was a six-year old girl living with her family in Wisconsin. She loved anything that had to do with princesses. Her favorite game was Pretty Pretty Princess. She most loved playing with her Dad because she could make him wear bracelets and necklaces and that made her laugh. She practically memorized every movie that came out with a princess theme. Her mom would often find her deep in her princess fantasy play in her bedroom. She had princess costumes of every color, tiaras, jewelry, and glittery slippers. There was never any question what Maya was going to be for Halloween! One day Maya was watching a princess movie all dressed up her own pretty princess costume. She was dancing and singing in her room completely lost in her own fairy princess world. With the DVD still on, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She looked at herself, then back at Princess Jasmine, then back at herself in the mirror again. She placed her hands on her stomach, then on her hips and tried to suck in and stand on her tippy toes. When she could suck no further, she said to herself “Princess Jasmine’s tummy doesn’t stick out like mine! She’s skinny and pretty.” Zing. That brief moment of comparison and her fantasy bubble burst. She turned off the DVD, took off her princess costume and buried it deep in the recesses of her closet. Then she went downstairs to find comfort in cookies and chocolate milk. That was the end of her princess phase. Her mom never did understand why Maya stopped being interested in princesses almost overnight.

How can we stay true to ourselves and insulate ourselves from the soul-crushing effects of “the Look?” Only by disentangling our body esteem from our self-esteem can we withstand the external judgments about our physical appearance that whittle away at our sense of self.

By: Dr. Cynthia Bulik