034: Lindsay Hansen Park on Bulimia, Body Image, and Faith

1658430_10202434847063865_396335696_oThis interview was published on Mormon Stories by John Dehlin.  Mormon Mental Health has permission to post on this venue.  Lindsay Hansen Park discusses her battles with Bulimia, body image, and faith.


 Part 1: Lindsay’s battle with bulimia Hide Player | Play in Popup |Download
 Part 2: Lindsay’s recovery from bulimia Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
 Part 3: Lindsay on faith and the future Hide Player | Play in Popup |Download

2 comments for “034: Lindsay Hansen Park on Bulimia, Body Image, and Faith

  1. Aurora
    June 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you for this topic. I am glad you are addressing this. It’s no small issue.

    One point I would like to add to your discussion is how this issue is directly connected to the women and the priesthood issues that are at the forefront right now in Mormon culture.

    As women in the Mormon church, our main job is to marry a man who holds the priesthood so that we can get into the celestial kingdom. I remember my aunt looking at me when I was about 17 and saying, “you won’t have any trouble getting a husband.” The underlying message was that I had the goods to get a man, one that could take me to the temple and make it possible for me to live eternally with God and my family. So basically, if I didn’t have the goods, I could end up in one of the lower kingdoms for eternity. Eating disorders for women can revolve around that fact that we don’t hold the priesthood and therefore can’t have power to reach the highest spiritual levels without a man. Not being able to hold the priesthood ourselves requires us to be attractive enough in this life to have eternal privileges in the next. Our eternal fulfillment is in the hands of another. We don’t have the freedom to acquire this ourselves, on our own merit alone. This feeling of powerlessness then creates obsessions with our looks and bodies. Why else would a perfectly healthy and beautiful 18 year old girl need to starve herself or have breast implants or other surgeries? Because she has to have the goods to be able to reach the celestial kingdom. I did not realize this when I was dating. It’s not necessarily a conscious thought. But subconsciously not having the power to make my own salvation added a fearful addition to the already daunting job of dating and mating. I hear over and over again that college campuses are meat markets. Many women competing for fewer men. Men can be pickier and so overlook someone who may not be considered attractive. So of course starving ourselves, becoming bulimic or placing too much importance on our looks is going to be the result.

    When I first became bulimic, my boyfriend, who was thinking at the time of asking me to marry him, inquired of me if I would always be thin and beautiful. I was 19 years old. I had no idea if I could handle that for a lifetime. I went home that night and ate some cold mash potatoes from the fridge and then forced myself to throw it up. That was my first time. I married that man, which led to about 13 years of food addiction and throwing up.

    I also didn’t hear you talk about the use of 12 step programs for recovery. I don’t know if I could have gotten well without them. I also went to treatment and when I came out, Overeaters Anonymous helped me a great deal. It was a place I could speak honestly and openly about what I did with food and I had a sponsor who personally helped me.

    My experience also confirms that the eating or not eating is not the real issue. We have to face the thoughts and emotions that cause us to act out. Many years of therapy and 12 step programs has given me 25 years of recovery as of this month. Truly a miracle. I have a wonderful, productive and joyful life today, thanks to many helpful people.

    There are numerous reasons why women (and men) have eating disorders. I don’t wish to place blame on the church, however, I believe for me, the Mormon messages helped to create the thinking problem that then caused the obsession. As much as I would like to say I could have recovered in the Mormon church, the truth was, I couldn’t. When my husband and I decided to divorce, I knew if I returned to Utah (we were on the East coast) and the Mormon community I would never get well. The bulimia was literally telling me there was something about the teachings that I could not stomach. I had to go with my gut.

  2. julie nielsen
    October 24, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I really enjoy your truthfulness and honesty is all you do!! I’m looking forward to seeing your work on polygamy and women. Your interviews on Mormon story’s were very helpful in my leaving Mormonism,and in my life journey.

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