Anorexic And Bulimic Woman Says Beauty Pageant Changed Her Life For The Better

You know those articles where a woman writes that something that’s generally considered to be shady is really friggin’ fantastic? Yeah, us Frisky ladies tend to be skeptical. Maybe being a mail-order bride really did turn out well for that woman featured in Marie Claire last month! But don’t kid yourself that you’re not an exception to the rule.

We’ve got similar “meh” feelings for the way Terri Graham, a member of’s reader community, confronted her anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphic disorder: competing in “countless” beauty pageants and strutting across the stage in a swimsuit and heels caused Graham to stop hating her body. []First and foremost, let’s be clear: We think that whatever helped Graham overcome the psychological diseases caused by her body image issues is ultimately a good thing. She is better off healthy than anorexic and bulimic, of course. But competing in a bunch of beauty pageants to get over her body issues left a sour taste in our mouth.

Previously Graham “thought [she] was so ugly as to be quite literally deformed,” but not coming in dead-last in beauty contest helped her realize she wasn’t actually a fugly troll. “I fully expected to come in dead last, yet to my surprise, I placed 18th out of 38,” she wrote. “This was my first wake-up call that I wasn’t completely unfortunately [sic] looking.”

However, is feeling prettier than the 20 other women whom she competed against in her first pageant really a healthier way to think about her own body? Competition in a beauty contest might bring confidence, sure, but having confidence still isn’t the same thing as having self-acceptance. Pageants tend to foist trophies on lithe, cellulite-free beauties who men typically think are hot—women who look like our pal Carrie Prejean. Did Graham re-adjust her outlook about what constitutes true beauty, or did she finally just feel accepted as being sufficiently “mainstream”beautiful?

Gram wrote that, now, her “mission is no longer to have a panel of judges extrinsically define me as beautiful, but rather, to change and re-define societies perception of beauty for all women.” She lauds MORE magazine, upon whose web site she is writing, and the TV modeling competition for over-35 women called “She’s Got The Look,” for the way they’re re-defining beauty. But judging by her (admittedly short) essay, Graham hasn’t “re-defined” beauty for herself so much as she’s become comfortable enough that she passes muster in everyone else’s definition of beauty.

What do you think? Does competing in beauty pageants sound like a good idea for an anorexic and bulimic woman?