Chubby Ankles and All

Melissa Brock’s Struggle with Anorexia

Superchic[k] is a contemporary Christian band that combines punk, pop, rock, rap and R&B to create their own unique sound. The group debuted in 1999, fronted by sisters Tricia and Melissa Brock, who were both trained as opera singers.  They’ve recorded five albums, including their latest release, “Beauty from Pain” in 2005. 
Excerpt taken from the book How Do You Know He’s Real: God Unplugged by Amy Hammond Hagberg.  For the whole story, check out the book at thought when I was all grown up and done with high school that I wouldn’t feel those emotions any more.  But it’s all kind of the same – we’re always looking for acceptance and for people to say, “We like you, come be our friend.”  It’s taken me a while, but I finally understand that the only true acceptance comes from God.  He accepts me just as I am, and because of that, I’m able to accept myself.… My mom had a friend in the neighborhood named Carol, who really wanted me to go to Sunday school.  I think selling me on the idea was her discrete way of getting my parents into church.  She started telling me about how much fun I would have there with the other kids… there were stories and playtime … and treats!  So I started bugging mom and dad about going.One day, my mom and I were driving to my grandpa’s house to celebrate his birthday and she needed to stop at her seamstress’ house on the way.  When we arrived, my mom parked the car in the driveway, which was at an upward incline.  She said she’d be just a second and told me to just sit there and wait.  Well, being four years old, I didn’t really just wait. I decided to mess with things in the car… until the car started rolling backwards. It rolled down the driveway, across a major road and should have continued rolling off a 30 foot embankment.  But instead, it went across the road and suddenly made a 90 degree turn and stopped when it hit a parked car. 

My mom came running out of the house freaking out, but the whole time I was calm, acting like there wasn’t anything wrong.  She said, “Melissa, how in the world did you know to turn the wheel just in time?”  And I look at her and replied, “Mommy, the angel turned the wheel, not me.”  Needless to say, my mom called my dad and said, “Okay, we’re going to church next Sunday.”

To this day, I don’t remember seeing a physical presence in the car with me, but I definitely remember feeling a sense of safety and security, like there was something there that protected me. What is amazing is that I had never been taught about Jesus or about angels, and I didn’t watch much television.  It just shows you that children do know things, and can see and feel things that most adults shut out. 

When I think about this incident, it always reminds me that very early on in my life, God desired to have me.  And now, regardless of what place I’m at, and regardless of what I’m going through – whether I’m in His presence or not – I can always remember that for some reason when I was four years old, God used me  and wanted me.  So when all else fails, I know that He does have a plan for me.

… I went to a small Christian school my whole life.  When I was about 12 or 13 I started realizing that there was this whole acceptance thing that starts being demanded of you. I started worrying about the way I looked and thinking I wasn’t good enough.  I was always looking for something that would make people love me. And I remember not wanting to go to school because I didn’t think anybody would like me.

Then one day a boy that I liked a lot told me I had chubby ankles.   If he thought my ankles were chubby I guess the rest of me must be too.  That weird, random comment started me on the road to the eating disorder, anorexia.

I remember looking at things in the media that the world thought were beautiful and vowed I would do whatever was necessary to look like that too.  It was a gradual thing, it was like I talked myself into not feeling well.  As a result, I was eventually feeling sick to my stomach all the time and ended up not eating anything.  A couple of months went by and I was eating next to nothing – I lost 20 pounds and was unhealthy both physically and psychologically. 

I think people in my life noticed the changes in me, but they didn’t know what to do.  For parents, it’s scary to admit that their child has a problem that needs to be dealt with.  I thought being thinner would make me happy, but I just became more and more unhappy and got to the point of not knowing what to do.  My best friend at the time had just gone through an eating disorders program for bulimia, and I called her up one day and told her I thought I had a problem.  She referred me to some counselors and I talked with them, but she was really the key ingredient in my recovery.  I knew she loved me, and it helped so much to hear about how she dealt with her own eating disorder and what she went through.  Most importantly, she would tell me that the beauty we find in the world is not true beauty.  She told me I would only be happy when I saw myself as beautiful in God’s eyes and in the way that He created me.  I wanted to believe that, but I just didn’t feel it at all.  All I saw was ugliness. 

But one day, the way I viewed myself changed in a miraculous way.  Normally, I avoided looking at myself in the mirror because I didn’t like anything I saw there.  But one morning I got up to get ready for school and I did look in that mirror.  The only way I can explain it is that I had a “God moment.”   At that moment I felt like God said, “Okay, Melissa, you asked for it and now I’m going to show you.  The rest is up to you.”  I saw myself in a whole new light – not as an ugly, chubby teenager, but as a beautiful young woman in the image of God.  He gave me a vision of being His child and being His creation.  And I remember feeling that this was the acceptance and love that was going to be with me for the rest of my life – not what the world had to show me.  It was a real turning point in my life.  I was able to cling to that moment of truth and honesty and see myself as I truly was – a perfect creation.

This encounter with God made me feel so much better about myself.  I think He knew I needed something like that to start on the road to being healthy again.  But it wasn’t like everything was perfect after that – it was a slow process of my family having to remind me to eat. 

There’s a song on our recording, Beauty from Pain, called Courage that’s specifically about my experience with anorexia.  When I started writing it, I thought it would be helpful to share my story for the kids who might be struggling with issues of acceptance.  Yet when the whole thing was done, I sat and listened to it and started crying.  I realized that I’d left the bulk of my problems back in high school, but that this is something I still deal with every day.  I still struggle with feeling like I’m not good enough or pretty enough.

Many people struggle with the same feelings of inadequacy, and the one thing I want you to understand is that you don’t have to feel like you need to tackle it all at once and then it will be better.  Because it’s a gradual process… it’s waking up every day saying, “God said I was beautiful today and I accept that.  And I’m going to choose to live this way.”  But the truth of the matter is, some days you don’t.  Some days, everything gets the better of me and I feel horrible about myself. It’s really just Satan worming his way into my life, trying to convince me that I’m not good enough.   But I can grab hold of the truth and fight back with the knowledge that God loves me just exactly as I am … chubby ankles and all. Amy Hammond-Hagberg is an internationally published freelance writer. Her work has appeared in magazines all around the globe. She is also the author of three books: “How Do You Know He’s Real: Celebrity Reflections on True Life Experiences with God”, and “How Do You Know He’s Real: God Unplugged” feature the Christian testimonies of famous actors, recording artists and athletes. She also wrote the book, “My Favorite Christmas” (Integrity House, 2006), which shares precious holiday memories by noted celebrities. Find out more on her website, 

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