Eat Pretty?

I’m not going to lie, living in NYC, I can kind of…take it for granted. 

Kinda like when you hear someone lives near the beach, and then you learn that they rarely go in the ocean. 

Let’s just say I like to stick to my neighborhood. I avoid Times Square like the plague. Vehemently resist going to Brooklyn. (I feel inadequate around hipsters). And steer clear of Macy’s on 34th at all costs. Too many tourists taking photos on their iPads. 

 But every once in a while, I realize that I live in the greatest city in the world, and so I’ll take a Saturday afternoon, and go on an adventure. I just start walking and see where the city takes me. 

Well, just a few weeks before I came back home for Christmas, I stumbled upon this hole in the wall used book store. 

Now, pause. If you’ve read any of my blog, then you’ll see the irony here…because…I hate reading. I mean, I cannot remember the last book I read. Seriously. I was the SparkNotes kid in highschool. And somehow managed a 4.0 in both high school and college. 

But any who….

This little bookstore caught my eye. It was tucked between a little red awninged cafe, and a nondescript walk up on a “quaintfully” run down-ish East Village street. Hidden in the basement, underneath a hokey yellow and red sign that was straight out of the Eighties. 

But you walk in and it’s this cramped little space with thousands of books. Shelves and shelves of floor to ceiling books. The aisles can fit one person width-wise at a time, and you can just get lost for hours perusing the titles. 

Hey, just because I don’t read books, doesn’t mean I can’t see what’s out there. 

But this one had that “old book” smell, and it was just before Christmas, and I was sipping my thermos of tea, and I just felt so…New York. 🙂

But as I was Matilda-ing my way through the shelves of books, I came across a title that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end:

Eat Pretty.

I did a double take…Did I read that correctly? Surely no one would be that dense to title a book that glaringly triggering to women suffering/on-the-brink-of/recovering from eating disorders. 

But there it was, plain as day: Eat Pretty.

So. I bought the book. I write an ED recovery blog…I’ve got to know what’s out there.

And let me tell you…I made it through the first chapter and a half, and I just had to stop reading. I was getting so pissed off I was beginning to get hives. 

What this book is communicating is exactly the type of thinking that can cause women – especially teenage girls – to develop disordered eating habits, if not a full blown eating disorder. 

For me, my version of this book was a line from a Mary Kate and Ashley movie. They were packing their lunch for high school, and Ashley goes, “I’m having an apple. It’s cute food.”

Cute food. As if high school wasn’t difficult enough trying to look cute for the boys when your body is awkwardly adjusting to puberty, now you also have to take into account the “cuteness” of your food?

Just. No. 

But Eating Pretty? Sure, maybe in some out-of-touch book marketer’s mind he or she thought that it would be a catchy, click-bait-y, title, but attaching a judgement on how and what you’re eating in relation to your attractiveness is recipe for disaster. 

Reading through the book, it was all about eating for beauty. Avoiding the “Beauty Betrayers” – such as gluten, dairy, meat, processed foods, canned foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fried food, and overcooked food — just to name a few. 

Sound like an eating disorder much? 

I had to put the book down. It was literally making my skin crawl with anger. This book was encouraging eating disorders and disguising it as “wellness.”

That is not eating pretty. That is eating restricted. 

You know what is eating pretty? Having a hamburger and not feeling an overwhelmingly intense sense of guilt and shame. Enjoying an ice cream cone with a friend on a hot day and not wanting to purge afterwards. Helping your mom cook dinner in the kitchen and not trying to control the amount of butter or oil she uses in the recipe. 

It’s eating freely and loving yourself no matter what goes in your mouth.

That’s eating pretty. 

How dare you tell me that I am inadequate or “not pretty” if I don’t adhere to this grueling and impossible standard of “pretty food.”

No thank you. 

We should encourage girls and women to eat healthily, yes…but that a woman should love herself and feel pretty no matter what she eats. 

Because Food does not equal Pretty or Not Pretty. 

Food does not factor into your attractiveness. 

It doesn’t matter if you eat an apple or a slider from White Castle. 

“Eating” and “pretty” should never even be in the same sentence, let alone thought process. 

As an anorexia survivor, this book brought out the mama bear in me. For all the young, impressionable girls out there who are going through high school and looking in the mirror every day and asking themselves, “Am I pretty enough?” everyday, just like I did. 

And I thought that food — or rather, the lack of food — would somehow aid in this quest for self worth and lovableness and yes, prettiness. And I strived for that perfection — those same damn “Beauty Betrayers” — all the way down to 78 pounds. 

And osteopenia, a missed high school graduation, serious hormonal issues, and shattered relationships later, I can tell you…eating — what you eat or don’t eat — will not, cannot, and should not EVER have ANY impact on your worth as a person or your “prettiness.”

That comes from the inside. That comes from your heart. How you treat others. How you love yourself. And from Christ shining through you. 

Not by “eating pretty.”

Give me a damn break. 

I’ll end with this one thing:

Food is not good or bad. It is not pretty or ugly. Food is nourishment. And you should nourish your body adequately and responsibly and enjoyably. 

Restriction is never pretty. Never has been. Never will be. 

Drop mic. 


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268 thoughts on “Eat Pretty?

  1. ‘Food is not good or bad. It is not pretty or ugly. Food is nourishment. And you should nourish your body adequately and responsibly and enjoyably. ‘

    I absolutely agree! Wonderful post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Lorrie! You’re right, especially when young teen girls are already dealing with such crippling self esteem/peer pressure issues. Let’s build one another up! Hahah that’s funny about the brussels sprouts. 🙂 haha hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw this book too at Barnes and Noble here. I thought it was interesting but would contain nothing I didn’t already know about food. I don’t know if you have been reading my blog and noticed that I’ve had an awful lot of problems when it comes to food. This way of eating or that, my diabetes and my blood sugars. . . .the constant state of guilt for eating what I eat. I lack freedom. Is it the beginning of an eating disorder to you or very different? I have OCD, anxiety disorders and depression already. As an esthetician I feel a bit confused on how to address what foods can help your skin and help you be healthy and beautiful without being like this book. I hope I certainly am not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pikku, sorry I just read this comment after your subsequent comment (just how it comes in on my notifications ) so I didn’t mean to say “awesome” about this. I was meaning you writing a post! I’m sorry that you’re having to endure those health issues. I think that, especially when our health problems involve digestion or food, it is hard *not* to have your relationship with food be affected. I wouldn’t say that’s an eating disorder, but I would just encourage you to “keep an eye” on it, and if you’re finding a lot of anxiety or fear around eating or food, then I would definitely suggest talking to a health professional about it. They may have some ideas or solutions for you. hope that helps. Hang in there. i will definitely be praying for you 🙂 hugs x


    1. Read Ugly. Haha i laughed outloud about that. I think it’s on St. Mark’s place and I think either 2nd or maybe ave a? I’m not particularly sure. I’ll try and find it and get back to you 🙂 hugs xo


  3. Hey, lady: try to track down the author’s e-mail address and send her a link to your blog…that always makes for some interesting commentary.

    My favorite form of “eating pretty” has more to do with chocolate syrup artfully drizzled across a plate bearing a slice of peanut butter cheesecake; or richly-hued steamed carrots, bell peppers and broccoli arranged in a fan in opposition to an artfully-grilled chicken flourentine.

    Oh gosh, I just finished lunch and my mouth is watering. Time to get some cookies from the snack machine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. hmm that would definitely be a powerful move! I’d really have to work up the courage to do that! haha but you’re right, maybe she doesn’t get the connection. haha oh my gosh i’m craving cheesecake now 🙂 hehe hugs to you xox

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It was hard for me at first, but when I focused on the people I was loving rather than the author I was offending, the bitterness of the negative response was blunted.


  4. Thank you so much for an inspirational post. It is really helpful to me as a girl who wants to make the right decisions about nourishing my body and not fall into the lies of eating disorders and being skinny enough that I hear about all the time. Thanks again 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This post has spent days rattling around between the ears over the last few days as I’ve made yeasty baked goods, cinnamon rolls, garlic knots, and pizza. On the menu soon will be something sourdough. I’ve thought about the pleasure of baking, the joy that fills my being when I’ve done a good job with the work. The joy I experience when my sweetie, or my friends enjoy the stuff I’ve baked is good, almost holy. Food is for our nourishment, and our pleasure. The meals we hear about in Scripture are communal, enjoyed together with other people, or if/when we’re alone with God. I find it fascinating in reflection that the first sin, the first turning away from God centers on food. From the beginning we have a misordered relationship with food, and with God and much I presume on both parts has to do with control and a warped sense of what that actually means.
    It is beautiful that you are here, sharing your experience, sharing your relationship with God, helping us to reconcile our relationship with God, our bodies, our self, and with Food. This is not only possible, it is miraculous, holy and beyond our wildest expectations.
    Thank you for pointing out how this book continues these misordered relationships. God bless you Caralyn.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh gosh thank you so much for this beautiful (and delicious 🙂 ) reflection! It sounds like you are quite the baker! You’re right-Jesus is the *bread* of life. There it is, plain as day. Thanks for your wonderfully kind encouragement. IT means the world. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good food, to me, is some of the most rewarding stuff about life. To condition people to care what other people think about what they are eating (or that what they are eating really should matter to other people at all) is quite foolish. So go ahead, have pancakes for breakfast (with butter and syrup). Put extra cheese on your pizza (who doesn’t love more cheese?). Get barbecue sauce all over yourself while you eat dinner with your hands. Have fun with food!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi BBB,

    Sorry that you had a bad book experience. I am glad though that you spoke out against bad information. Hope you will find some reading you do like. Also, enjoy that great city you live in. My family and I got to visit last summer for my daughters’ dance competition. Have a great week,


    On Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 4:01 PM BeautyBeyondBones wrote:

    > beautybeyondbones posted: “I’m not going to lie, living in NYC, I can kind > of…take it for granted. Kinda like when you hear someone lives near the > beach, and then you learn that they rarely go in the ocean. Let’s just say > I like to stick to my neighborhood. I avoid” >

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ll pass on the White Castle slider… Eat real food (aka something that grew in the ground or eat least ate something that did on it’s way to making protien). Enjoy the time in the kitchen preparing the meal. Share the meal with someone at the table (not TV trays or with screen-time). That will help the digestion, regardless of the social expectations.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. the french poet Marcel Proust once said: to discover new things we need not travel to fresh new distant places, just the same places with fresh new eyes. I love that you embrace the diversity and abundance your place has to offer. good way to enjoy life – well done you! #StrictMotivation

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome, and thank you! I’m new and you were the first person to like one of my posts. If you hadn’t I would have never found you (if my blog wasn’t saved to my favorites, I couldn’t find it either) Reading it brought up memories, that I hadn’t thought about in years 🙂 so, again thank you!


  10. You know, I was friends with this girl in middle school who developed a nasty eating disorder. I was so afraid for her, that I wanted to find out more about anorexia just to see what it was like for her. I ended up scrolling through some grotesque “Pro-Ana” websites that just made chills run down my spine. I am so glad that you are using your blog to point out these issues and discuss them openly. I only wish there were more of these around on the Web to counteract all those horrible “Pro-” websites. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That’s pretty ballsy but it doesn’t surprise me as we have people like Oprah and Dr Phil giving out weight loss advise and they have been heavy losing and gaining every year and hawking new products that go belly up and then they sell the next one

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup it’s all a scam I did a three part lying on labels series as the norm was 60-20-20 give or take and a protein bar, drink or meal was just that all protein and now those are not even all protein and fall into the old norm of mainly carbs


  12. Thank you! I see so many young women today berating themselves because their size 2 is a little tight, and they feel like they have to spend 40 hours in the gym so that they can look like the models who look ill in order to be beautiful! Hogwash!

    I just wanted you to know two things. I’ve added your blog to my resource list in the menu of my blog, and I’ve recognized your blog on my latest post. If you would like to see either, please click the link below. Thanks for writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I KNOW RIGHT !!!? Sorry this made me way too excited! But it’s so true! Personally I’ve struggled with restricting, anorexia, calorie counting, and binging. All with this “eat pretty” mindset of “eating clean and looking beautiful and flawless”. Eating healthy is good, but a lot of this “clean eating” diets are not calorie sufficient. I would know. I love this post ❤ so much

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Ah, I love my food and it shows. Lol! Rice and some fatty food. I’m unhealthy. 🙂
    Yes, please, tell everyone to bloody eat! Back in the days, we didn’t hear about gluten-free, etc. I feel so not-trendy. What about you? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Always a pleasure to read your posts. 🙂
        Just not too many Krispy Kreme doughnuts for me! Those things are evil! Haha!
        Much love and hugs, C 🙂 Mwah!


  15. Ahh, this is so accurate! I’m recovering from an ED, too. I can remember beginning to diet by 12 years old. (Shouldn’t I have been outside playing or something?!)
    It’s freeing to finally not feel guilt, shame, and a host of ridiculous negative emotions in relation to food I eat. We do live in a culture that pushes the young to think “pretty” or “beautiful” is equated to food, eating habits, and body weight. I’ll throw that book on my do-not-read list.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry that our pasts connect us, but I am so glad that we’re both embracing freedom! You’re right-the cultural climate is definitely sad. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  16. eeeexackly! I love this post! Until recently, I never allowed myself too much thought about what was appropriate in the realm of eating, let alone food being ‘pretty’. And what you’ve described in the list of things pretty much eliminates anything fun. It’s quite oppressive. Goodness!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I recently bought a Bobbi Brown beauty book for my daughter who loves experimenting with make-up. In the midst of many positive messages about inner beauty & confidence, I was horrified to find a list of good & bad foods. We had a long talk about not labelling any foods this way and enjoying food for all of the ways it enhances life… Fortunately my girl is still tucking in to chocolate seashells just now on the sofa… But we haven’t even reached high school yet and I wonder how many times I am going to have to challenge this attitude to the relationship between beauty and food. Thanks for this beautiful blog. X

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi there! Thank you so much for sharing this thoughtful response. oh gosh, yeah that’s not good at all! That’s so smart not to label food — how disappointing that that book did that. keep challenging that attitude! it is important. it sounds like you’re a great parent 🙂 thanks for stopping by! hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I enjoyed reading this BLOG and your recent one about your mum. I lived in Manhattan; and, I go back every year for the US Open Tennis Tournaments. I miss NYC; and, I enjoy seeing your pictures. I still have my 212 mobile phone number, which I won’t give up.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am recovering from an eating disorder too. I did not choose to have an eating disorder, but I choose every day not to surrender to my lifelong illness. I’m proud of my struggle, though seemingly trivial and undisclosed by our society, and it’s time for the world to know: we are brave. we are survivors.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. You never disappoint with your message, Caralyn. I would love to go in that bookstore. The smell of the old books and just being surrounded by books. I knew before I continued reading your message about “eating pretty” that would be a book similar to what our society has been brainwashing females and even males into believing is the key to a successful relationship, career, home, etc. No way hosea!!! Society and books like this one is like you said why there are eating disorders, people (young and old) who have low self-esteem, etc… Yes, you should eat healthy foods, but it’s not just about the foods that you eat, one has to not gorge on food and sit around doing nothing. We have to exercise even if it is just walking in our own home. Not eat a feast to ourselves, and as you have said, we have to accept ourselves no matter what size we are. It is not size that matters it is who we are on the inside and how we treat ourselves and others that matters. Looking like a supermodel, Victoria secret model, professional cheerleader, etc… is no guarantee that you are truly happy with yourself or life for that matter, and is definitely no guarantee that your dreams will come true. I hope that I have not offended anyone by what I have said, but society and books, articles, commercials, movies, etc.. like the one we are discussing here frustrate me to be polite. I have lived with very low self-esteem since I was a pre-teen and I’m in my 40’s now. I have had an eating issue/problem for much of my life. Binge eating, eating because I’m bored and or depressed, not eating to fit in, not eating to fit into nice clothes, to get a decent boyfriend, etc.. suffered with bulimia for two years and now i have dental problems. Yeehaa!!! Do I look like Tom Brady’s wife? No way! I have decided to do what I can to make sure that I never go back to my past lifestyle. I portion my foods to a limit that is comfortable for me and not restricting. I choose to lose weight and get myself healthy for my family and upcoming wedding. I have realized and still struggle sometimes, that i am who i am. Britt Nicole came out with a song that is beyond beautiful and amazing. here is the link:
    I need to be more focused on seeing myself through Jesus’s eyes and not mine or the world’s eyes.
    Thank you so much for sharing this! It means alot!
    God bless you and be with you always!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that common thread in our stories, but I’m so glad that we’re both claiming freedom and peace. I’m really looking forward to listening to that song. Thank you for sharing. yes, seeing with Jesus’ eyes is definitely the way to go. big hugs to you xox


  21. I really want to respond to you, but I don’t want to be anyone who casues you pain. I certainly respect and identify with many of the things that you are thinking and feeling. But I also want you to know that I did not go to Washington on the Women’s March to protest. I hope my presence there was a statement of solidarity with many groups that I think are threatened right now. Black lives matter to me; abused women need my support; I can’t sit back when immigrants and refugees need homes and we have wealth and room.
    I am not a member of any of the groups referenced in the previous sentence, but I am a member of humankind, which means I have the responsibility stand up for those whose voices are not heard. I hope that I do what I can to help others. I know I am a woman of privilege (meaning I am white, educated, and financially secure). With the appreciation for this security that I have, I will continue to work and support those whose lives are more difficult.
    That said, I recognize that your life has also been one of struggle. I would help you any way I can and hopefully encourage you. You obviously are strong and beautiful and finding your way in the world. I applaud you for sharing with us.
    Thanks, weemsthoughtsblog


    1. thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and perspective. You have a beautiful heart and that is very evident in your writing. I applaud the reasons that you sited. Amen – we as human beings need to work for respect and understanding of all people, no matter what. that is what love and life is all about:) thanks for joining the dialogue in such a respectful way! you rock, my friend 🙂 big hugs xo


  22. Hi! I just wanted to say I’m working my way out of the disordered eating mentality and these words mean so much to me.


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