Monday, February 7, 2011


 "Dear Medusa,

Hey I love your website. I'm sure you have a bunch of people emailing you but my story is the same and it's different. I live in a country where people love their bodies a lot, except for me. Eating disorders in my country are a "white-girl-on-lifetime-movies" kinda problem. As a result, I have never sought help. My dentist thinks I eat too much candy. I have hardly any teeth. I'm thirty and have been bulimic since I was ten.

I am a bodybuilder, fitness athlete... I became that because it is a legitimate excuse to get my body down to 8% body fat and lower. I hate myself so much sometimes. I have attempted suicide lots but haven't quite figured it out (LOL). Maybe someone out there feels like I do. Feels ugly and stupid and stuck and no one to relate to because eating disorders aren't talked about in their country. Maybe they feel crazy like I do. I don't know.

Here's my story. And my pictures. I don't mind my face going up. Just not my name.

'Dalal the black bodybuilder.

I made a career around food...went to school, studied and built a hobby around an obsession. As I type I am chewing slowly on ten slices of bread and butter, knowing that before I finish typing I will force everything up with the back end of a toothbrush. I was going to binge on peanut brittle, but with only one tooth on the upper right side of my mouth, chewing nutty hard things has become something of a problem.

My name is Dalal. Of course not, but I like how the name sounds… beautiful, foreign and exotic. I have worked hard to become all of those things, except deep inside I am really just a nappy haired black girl with bad skin and crooked teeth.

On the outside I am everything healthy - nutritionist, fitness competitor, super trainer, super athlete, super super super. Long haired, clear skinned, false and capped teeth gleaming as I tell people what they should eat and how they should train. I smile and tell them not to drink, not to smoke, not to do drugs when some nights I smoke an entire joint just to be able to stand myself. Oh yeah...and there is this thing about a binge-purge habit I have had since I was ten. 

All irrelevant. In four months' time I will be on stage, competing at 8% body fat displaying deeply tanned muscles for the world to ogle at...a seemingly emphatic picture of health and feminine strength; none of which exist inside of me.

I am trying to type how I feel but it’s hard. The words are easy to say...I have bulimia. It’s out of control. I suffer from depression. Yet all these words are devoid of everything but the trembling vocal chords in which to speak them. They don’t really paint a picture of how gorged you feel as you waddle to the toilet bowl to cleanse yourself of sins (father forgive me, it has been two hours since my last confession). They don’t really speak of how you eat something safe and healthy, then swallow a whole cake on top of it (Stupid stupid stupid) and then have to throw everything up and start from scratch…. How much money is spent on foods that you just throw up and dentists that think you just eat too much candy and well, just privacy to confess to the porcelain bowl-gods in peace. 

Oh yeah, and that black girls don’t make themselves throw up. Only white girls do. Well. Here I am - a black girl who created a life to hide the fact that she hates her body - a black girl who can hide behind the fact that black girls don’t do that stuff and who doesn’t know where to go for help other than some random website that made her cry as she read the stories and said to herself...that’s me. That’s me."

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Anonymous said...

I would really like to share a few things with you, but am not able to. Yet.

I really hope find some peace in your life. It's hard. I know.

Amanda Harris said...

Normally, I don't comment on these stories, but this one has touched me, primarily because I have participated in bodybuilding communities...until I saw what was actually going on there. Strength training can be a wonderful tool for recovery. It's a place where big and failure, both "bad" terms in the Ana/Mia/EDNOS world, can have a "good" connotation. Very often, however, it is very easy to assume that because someone's muscular, they don't have a problem. It leads to people who need treatment being dismissed, and, more often, it leads to denial.

The good news is that you're honest about it. I can't tell you what to do next. I can only offer advice based on where I've been with eating disorders. Find some way to express yourself or to relax that has nothing to do with weight. Something you just do because you want to. For me, that's music. It should be something you're able to retreat into when you're faced with triggers and a reason -not- to be triggered.

It seems silly, but it helps you take you take your mind off yourself and at the same time it gives you a way to cope with your situation. My therapist tried to drill this into my head; I only got it when I stopped seeing her.

Eating disorders know no ethnic boundaries. You are not alone. If you decide to give recovery a shot, I wish you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Dalal, your story has touched me so much. It's hit home! I can relate because there is a misconception of anorexia/bulimia and race.

You are so, so beautiful and I don't know who told you your not, because YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, you deserve to live without ED.

I've been trying to write a story about a Black girl who fell into the trap of ED for so long and your words:

"Oh yeah, and that black girls don’t make themselves throw up. Only white girls do. Well. Here I am - a black girl who created a life to hide the fact that she hates her body - a black girl who can hide behind the fact that black girls don’t do that stuff and who doesn’t know where to go for help other than some random website that made her cry as she read the stories and said to herself...that’s me. That’s me."

has helped me get back on track and show the world that they are more people out there who need a focus to be able to heal from ED.

I hope you get better soon, because you are brave to share your story; it is a close step to healing.

Thanks for sharing your story again.

Anonymous said...

I really really hope you reach out and get the help you need.

Anonymous said...

picture of how gorged you feel as you waddle to the toilet bowl to cleanse yourself of sins (father forgive me, it has been two hours since my last confession). They don’t really speak of how you eat something safe and healthy, then swallow a whole cake on top of it (Stupid stupid stupid) and then have to throw everything up and start from scratch…This is a feeling I could not have put into better words and this is exactly how it is!When you are in the zone it is the best feeling when all that food leaves your body its like having that hit as if it were heroine this is the only way I can explain it to people that do not know!
I myself have been bulimia for nearly 20 yearsNOW I AM SCARED! like most whom are suffers are but it is something that us whom used to be a person has no control anymore, everyday the same thing "I am not going to do it today" it is you battle against your mind and body. I have seek help many of times but sadly it is a battle still waiting to be won....It is nice to know that there is people going through the same thing(in a selfish kind of way) because eating disorders are the most common but..having it yourself feels like your the only person in the world!A lot also state that eating disorders are a seek of attention a way they are right on the other hand it is the most private thing in our worlds the reason why people do talk about out about it is because they are saying" I am scared".....I wish you well you seem a strong person with so much to offer much love xxx

Anonymous said...

Your story was so eloquently written and so moving that I had to write. Although I am not an athlete, I relate to much of what you said - it was as if I had written parts of it myself. I feel like everything I want to say is going to sound trite, but I'll say it anyway.

From the way you express yourself and from your accomplishments, I sense that you are a far stronger person than you realise. So many of the stories that I read on this site over the past couple of hours are absolutely heartbreaking, but when I read yours I felt hopeful that you will be one of the success stories who will be able to completely recover from this disorder and channel all of your energy into something life affirming.

I’d like to suggest a book for you which I have found very helpful: Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.

Whether it is perfect or flawed, just keep in mind that you are so much more than your body.

My very best wishes.

Nicole said...

I have no idea where she come from, but my first reaction to this story is that this woman does not even look like a black woman, she looks more like a Middle Easterner or an Indian, she has little resemblance to negro people.

Dalal is an Arabic name, so I'm assuming that she comes from an Arabic influence country, but I don't know.

Many parts of Africa have heavily mixed population, especially in places like Somalia, Ethiopia, and Morocco, where many people have lots of Middle Eastern Ancestry.

Many North African countries also have non-negro populations, mainly Caucasians who came from parts of the Middle East. No contrary to popular belief not all people in Africa are Negro, so just simply coming from Africa does not make one a black person.

Many South American countries also have many mixed people and people from different ethnic groups as well.

So considering the fact that this lady does not even look like a black African, but more like someone from the Middle East or an Indian, I don't think she is a good example of a black woman with an eating disorder.

In America from what I've seen black girls are less likely to have Anorexia, mainly because they have bigger women like Oprah, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Monique to look up to, and the media seems more accepting of plus size black women that plus size white women.

It's just simply not as encouraged in American society and pop culture for black women to be ultra skinny.

I'm not saying that their aren't any black women with eating disorders, just that it's far less common

It's just my opinion. sorry if I offended anyone

Anonymous said...

You were offensive and apology not accepted.

You have no clue how common eating disorders are amongst African Americans.

Also, we "negros" (seriously? Negro?) come in more colors, facial features and hair textures than your tiny little mind can ever fathom. Even in the United States.

I can guarantee you that there are people that you think Latino, or Middle Eastern, or even WHITE who are actually black.

Bona fide NEGRO black.

If SHE says she's black then, she's black.

Anonymous said...

To bring the last commenters point home....(a very well -spoken point actually)....I am a 36 year old black woman who has been living with bulimia and anorexia since I was 18. If you saw me on the streets you wouldn't notice anything extra special about me. Cinnamon brown skin, braids, 5'9" tall....nothing unique. No one would ever guess (by looking at me) that I have been battling with an ED since the birth of my first child ...who is now 18 years old. I had been very slim all of my life until my first pregnancy. The extra weight that I gained ( almost 100 lbs) is part of what triggered my eating disorder. I also have plenty of "black" friends with mild to more severe eating disorders. Some of them don't even recognize that they indeed have a problem. Eating disorders are not commonly discussed in a lot of black families. Especially among the poorest populations where people starve without choice. I have a girlfriend ( beautiful brown skinned woman :)) who has a stressful job and works long hours. She is often so exhausted at the end of the day that she skips meals all together. She used to be a normal weight until she got this new job. Suddenly, she dropped so much weight in three months from neglecting herself. She power walks on her lunch break and is always saying that she just doesn't have an appetite. I knew she had an eating disorder when she started literally eating only an "apple a day" and bought a brand new treadmill to run on after exhausting herself at work. I recognized ANA because she has been my company everyday for almost 19 years. This particular girlfriend and I sometimes feed off each other's illness. Sad but true. I also found myself with a new job and comparing myself to all the slender women around me. The successful women seemed to be thin and beautiful. I started dropping weight to blend in and became very sick from the extra efforts I was putting into losing weight. I would throw up my lunch and eventually started skipping lunch all together. People started making comments about how slim I was getting. Some would stare at me with wide eyes and mouths hanging open as if I was doing something so awesome it was worthy of the attention. I loved it. Absolutely loved the attention. So I continued my quest to be thin ...and no longer the "big fat black woman". People started to ask me how I was doing it and my reply would always be that I had become vegan. :). One day ..while I was purging my lunch in the toilet....a woman came into the stalls and confronted me. She was very gentle and nonjudgmental....but made it clear that she knew what I had been up to. She seemed to be sympathetic and very familiar with bulimia. Despite this....I was so embarrassed about being caught. It made me feel weak and pathetic. I pretended that I believed I had food poisoning and quickly ended this rather uncomfortable conversation no matter what her intentions may have been. A really big scare came when I started having breathing issues and heart palpitations while driving one day. I thought I was going to die. My daughter was in her car seat. The thought that I was risking her innocent life made me put a greater effort into getting myself in a healthier place. I have made good progress....however.....I believe that ED's will always be a part of my life.

Medusa said...


Thank you for writing. EDs are insidious. So happy you are making progress in your recovery. All the very best to you.

~ Medusa

Anonymous said...

I can tell you this 1 of three teen black girls has it I know because I had a eating disorder it started at age 11 and no I am not from a single parent home or the projects the eating disorder is not nessesarly purging you have to work your why up to that mine started with skipping meal because I was afraid to gain a pound I laugh now because by the time I was 18 I weighed only 114 pounds and I am 5'7" I thought you were sapose to eat nothing to look you best I went through a lot of bigger girls hating me or my dad saying your getting fat and my stupid self thought I was fat at 114 pounds

Unknown said...

I am 15
I had anorexia
And I know how you feel
I am a vegan
I did that cos recovery
Would be easier but
I made a connection
With the animals now
And that is y I am vegan
I care about my health
But in reality I dnt care about
Myself I have autism to
And I am suicidal to
Is very hard to cope but
Idk what will happen ...I've been suicidal
Before I even knew what suicide was...
Anyway since I was 12
I wanted to end my life
But's not worth it ....
Just keep going ...I hope ur okay
Ur beautiful I kno u don't think so
But ur 💙
Add me on Instagram...

My username is potatoegirl9