Eating Disorder Research Papers

I wrote this paper for my Religion, Theology, and New Media class. We were asked to write on a topic of our choice, and to analyze that topic from both religious and media perspectives. Since this course is research-focused, we also had to conduct research to support a hypothesis. I chose to research how religious fasting rituals are practiced and approached in modern day society, one that is seeing a rise in eating disorders due to media influence. In this paper I share some of the personal stories and reflections my followers submitted and found them incredibly insightful.

The Influence of Religious Fasting in a Media-Dominant Society

 

I wrote this paper for my Intro to Digital Technology and Emerging Media Class. Our prompt was to choose one topic from our class discussions and expand on it further. I was intrigued by our conversations on wearable technology and fitness trackers, and how these numbers communicated a sense of self to the user. We called this the “quantified self”. This paper argues that fitness trackers neglect the subjectivity of health and instead push a “one-size-fits-all” mentality. I suggest that wearable technology complicates efforts to live intuitively and can trigger unhealthy, addictive behavior.

Wearable Fitness Technology: An Unhealthy Obsession with Health

 

 

 

My Eating Disorder Story: NEDA Week 2019

My eating disorder is Easter 2011, around 8:30 P.M.

My mom clears the table for the dessert spread. I’m wearing a blue Abercrombie tank top tucked into a floral skirt. My stomach is bloated, stretching the band of the skirt so I can’t see my toes. I look down. Then I look up. Greeted by dessert. I slide into a seat next to my cousins and dive in. Three of this, two of those, a couple glasses of milk…what’s that? My sister offers to make hot chocolate for everyone. She makes me two because “I have a big appetite guys”. As if that wasn’t clear.
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My Eating Disorder Story: NEDA Week 2019

Tips for Better Writing

**Written August 3rd, 2018**

 

  To my fellow writers and aspiring writers alike, here are a couple of tips that I’ve found to improve my writing! I’m not a professional by any means, but as a dedicated student to the craft, I believe I’ve learned a thing or two…
1. Say less with more.
            When I was young, I thought that good writing meant long illustrious sentences that danced across multiple pages, strung together with outlandish words that communicated an unattainable level of intelligence. It took me a long time to realize that writing is not solely a showcase of knowledge. A good writer does more with less. The more elaborate words tossed in, the less room there is for the writer to craft their skill. Wordiness cripples creativity. Pieces read smoothly when the syntax is varied. (Syntax = sentence structure). Long descriptive sentences that are broken up with short fleeting thoughts. Thoughts broken up into two sentences. Depending on the nature of your piece, a list may work, ordering things so that one spills over into the next, connected by not binding. I encourage you to play around with condensing your writing. Just because a sentence is long and flooded with SAT vocab doesn’t mean it reads well. Less is more. When I’m writing, I pretend that I can’t go over a certain word count. It forces me to choose my words carefully, what do I want the reader to take away? At what point are there too many words? When do they lose their power? It’s a fine line to walk. Practice helps greatly. Stopping to read your work out loud is useful because you can hear when your sentences are distracting rather than captivating.
2. Read far, and deep, and often.
            Reading and writing go hand in hand. Writers grow through other writers. Being a strong writer begins with being a conscious reader. So often we read and just look for a thrilling plot. Recently I read a book where there isn’t much of a plot at all. However, it was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Why? The writing. It was lyrical, and dreamy, and painted images with words as paint. The main character struggled with mental illness, and since the story was told through first-person, the reader only understood the world around her from this altered perspective. It was genius. The author never drew attention to this, but as a conscious reader I knew to take everything the narrator says with a grain of salt. This is why the writing was captivating. It challenged my view of other characters, my understandings of them laced with skepticism.
            I say read far, and by this I mean far across various genres and topics. I say read deep, and by this I mean in between the lines, searching for more, carefully taking in all elements of the writing, not just what is spelled out for you on the page. Often, well, that’s self-explanatory. The more you read, the more you expose yourself to new craft, new ways of thinking, new vocabulary. Reading is the absolute best way to cultivate new vocabulary. Especially if you read a book or piece outside of your comfort zone! If we stick to the same genres or types of books, we shelter ourselves. A non-fiction novel on serial killers reads quite differently than a fiction novel about a romance.
3. Write in your head.
            I do this all day, every day. I’ve fallen into the habit of shaping my thoughts into a narrative. You’re stuck with your thoughts with no escape, so you may as well enjoy them as a thrilling read. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way to put myself in an environment that makes me think out-of-the-ordinary thoughts. For example, I’ll walk to the subway ten minutes away from my office instead of the one 200 feet from the entrance. That way, I can people watch. I can gather material. I can experience more of the world. More often than not, we write what we know. The more you know, the more expansive your writing can be. When I can’t physically be writing, I do it in my head to save for later. The more you write, the easier this becomes. At this point it’s my default state. Every thought can be shaped into a line in a bigger piece, and from these scraps of fleeting thoughts I constantly pull inspiration.
4. Share your work with others.
            If you want your writing to improve, you can’t hide it. Having others read your work provides you with a new perspective. Outside readers can point out things that you didn’t even acknowledge, things that slide under your radar because they’re habit to you. Additionally, outside readers are great for pointing out when something doesn’t make sense. Let’s say you’re writing about an experience you had. Intuitively you know all of the details, which may cause you to leave some out because to you, they’re obvious. Someone who wasn’t there may not be able to grasp the full telling because they can’t make the same connections.
5. Stay mindful of your audience.
            Remember who you’re writing for. Being aware of the reader can shape how you write completely. The tone you use, the language you opt for, the topics you discuss. Being able to find a voice in any given situation is challenging. My advice on this is to stay confident in the work you put out. Readers love a confident voice. If you assert your ideas with pride and show that you can stand on your own, you’ve already captivated your audience.
6. Nothing is off limits.
            When you censor your writing, you prevent any growth that can be made through it. When I was recovering from my eating disorder, I found great peace in sharing my struggles through words. Speaking failed me, for some time. I couldn’t talk about my pain with anybody. My parents would visit me every night in the hospital but I couldn’t bring myself to have a conversation with them about my progress. Instead, I prepared a daily journal entry which they sat by my bedside and read each night. Through words on a page, I was able to find a voice that was able to say things that felt terribly uncomfortable out loud. Saying “I’m afraid of a piece of toast” to someone’s face is intimidating. Writing it on a page, outlining the immense fear and crippling anxiety that come with it, crafting an emotion-ridden image…it’s different. I would write and write and write each time I was overloaded with emotion. Later I could reflect back on my words and grow through them.
            If I had let my fear of being judged stop me from writing about my eating disorder, I would have never found the courage to overcome it. Sharing my struggles held me accountable. I began my Instagram and blog as spaces to connect with people in the same boat I found myself in. Writing connects us. Being vulnerable and open has greatly improved the quality of my writing.
Did I miss any helpful tips? I’m always looking to improve my craft. Reach out via Instagram DM or email if you have any thoughts or questions! Sending love xxx

Odds and Ends of Some Writing

**Written July 27th, 2018**
I tend to see life where people are absent.
Just this afternoon I was driving down a narrow, forest-ridden winding road. With each turn came a new landscape. One bend brought a small shed, weathered with rain and snow and simply time. The next curve forced me to look across the road to a brook slithering under a wooden bridge, both coming from and leading to nowhere at all.
I steal quick glances. In this moment, they’re mine.
Today’s forecast promised grey skies.
Don’t you love when nature proves us mere guessing humans wrong?
The trees that line this road are tall, towering high above the ground and create a canopy overhead. Both sides are steep hills that become small mountains. This road a disturbance, a misfit with its home on the ground.
I glance up to the houses sitting triumphantly at the mountaintop. Pure sunshine trickles in through the cracks in the canopy, places where the trees tried and tried to reach each other but fell short. The beams of light are misshapen. Sunshine spills out where it can, maneuvering its way to the ground. On the woodchips and scattered tree branches. On the fallen logs and wild flowers and puddles of water leftover from yesterday’s storm.
It is in these moments that I see life, and I’m not sure why.
All I know is that I see, I feel, and then, I know.
There is something captivating about watching nature in an undisturbed state. The light’s ability to find its way all on its own. The way the silent hum of the engine beneath my seat falls deep into the background as I take it all in. A world on mute. I can’t hear my breath. I must be holding it, hiding it, but from what? Maybe it was taken. Nature, a thief.
I see beams, literal beams of light. They’re falling and yet they’re rising. An illusion, a comfort.
I trace the beams back to their source. Where did these pillars of magic come from? How can I see the shape of light? I feel special. Strong almost. Seeing beams is my special power. There is life in this light.
This sunshine. This light. It’s resilient, it’s present, and it’s certainly alive. It’s in this moment I long to be barefoot in the midst of it all, briefly considering pulling the car over, leaving the pieces of metal and rubber behind, chasing the swelling need to feel dirt beneath my feet.
Why is it that we don’t consider light alive?
This drive down this road was fleeting. Two minutes at most. And somehow, that was all I needed. To know.
The presence of this light was so strong. It chose its words carefully, speaking in feelings rather than words. Taking in the light as it hit the forest at every angle, in every possible area, I saw life. Undisturbed, allowed to live, to be. To not be expecting the light only to catch it radiating strongest as its heads toward sleep. Sunset.
There is no life in sight to disturb the beams. An absence of life, a void somehow filled with life itself. Life is mysterious. Where did this light come from, how will it return? Life is intoxicating. These beams, this warmth, it floods me with a rush of awe. Life is illuminating.
A winding road, a two-minute drive. Taken for granted all too often. A light show hides within the outskirts, in the places we’re not supposed to look. Eyes ahead, on the road. But brief glance to the hills, a visual climb up the mountainside. Where the people are not. That is where I see life.
Illuminating.