"Duck Dynasty" star Sadie Robertson has opened up about how God healed her from a year-long struggle with an eating disorder and encouraged girls to remember they are "beautifully and wonderfully made in God's image" - no matter what culture says.
In a powerful post shared on her "Live Original" blog, Willie and Korie Robertson's 20-year-old daughter said she decided to tell her story after learning that 97% of women have struggled with negative body image issues.
"It broke my heart, and I truly want to help change that statistic," she said. "Warning to all and as you are about to see me speaking from experience, it is not easy to jump to that 3%, but it is possible."
"I struggled with an eating problem connected to a negative body image for about a year," the model and author said. "It was dark. It was ugly. It was insanely difficult. It was done in secret. It was hidden. I did not even tell my own mother until recently. I thought I had everything under control."
"I didn't even realize this small problem that I thought I had under control was creating a ripple effect, creating more and more problems, ones I certainly couldn't control," she continued. "I became angry with the person I was becoming. My self-worth was demolished, and I began to lose sight of my true identity."
Robertson said she was "trapped in a battle that took place 24/" and "day by day began to defeat" her.
"My mirror, my pictures, my clothes, and my view were my worst enemies," she said. "It was like I was looking in a magic mirror, you know, those ones that distort the image? Except it was my mind changing what I saw. My thoughts instantly went to the imperfections. The blemishes. The flaws. At least five times a day, I would wrap my hands around my thighs, making sure they hadn't grown beyond what I could reach. I knew each little calorie that was in every bite of food I took. I talked about food all of the time. I hid behind the talk, and I actually hid behind encouraging others."
During this time, Robertson helped lead others into victory over their battles, but she herself was staying behind on the battlefield.
"I have heard it said that people develop eating disorders because it is something they can control in their life. That makes so much sense in my case, because during this particular time, so much in my life felt out of my control," she said.
Ironically, Robertson said the time she struggled with an eating disorder was the year after she appeared on Dancing with the Stars.
"Shocker, I know," she said "I went to Hollywood and didn't go crazy for the world to see. I hear it said all of the time, "How do all of these young people go to Hollywood and just lose their minds?" To be honest, I get it. I feel their pain. My struggles and confusion from it all just happened on the inside, rather than the outside for everyone to see - and that can at times make it even worse, because I was able to hide my ugliness on the inside, and that meant no one could call it out. There was no accountability."
The "Live Original" author said she couldn't see herself as beautiful because her mind constantly told her that she was unattractive.
"That was the enemy speaking, and when I came into agreement with those thoughts, it stole my perspective," she said. "I couldn't see beauty in my creation, in exercise, in my sisters, in relationships, conversations, the weather, or in the GIFT OF FOOD for crying out loud."
Sadly, our culture has "created a perspective that is so far off from what we were created for," said Robertson. She encouraged other girls to stop finding their identity in the approval of others and comparing themselves to the seemingly perfect women on Instagram.
"If who you are now is not enough for you, then it will never be enough until your perspective changes and your heart takes a shift," she said. "Stop trying to find the perfect lighting, and focus instead on finding the beauty in your heart."
Robertson said her perspective on herself finally changed the day she prayed for the Lord to enlighten her eyes to see His standard of beauty.
"In order to experience God's beauty, you have to exhale your ugly," she said. "My heart beats behind that quote. Do these old thoughts come back from time to time? Absolutely, but it is my job to take authority over them."
Thankfully, Today, Robertson is able to do an "all natural photo-shoot" for the first time in her life - and has more joy than ever before.
"If it means being 'less beautiful' in the world's eyes, that's okay with me," she said. "As long as I still get to seek out real beauty - the kind that is found in God's word, and is painted out in the world before me. I will gladly lay myself down at the feet of the Creator, not only to encounter more of the beauty He created in me but to experience the creation He surrounds me with."
She concluded her post by sharing several Bible verses to help girls struggling with body image issues: "Do not just read them once. Cover yourself in them daily, before you cover your face," she advised.
An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from potentially life-threatening eating disorders, according to U.S. News & World Report, and at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder every 62 minutes.
Robertson is no the only Christian actress to open up about her struggles with an eating disorder. "Fuller House" actress Candace Cameron Bure previously shared her battle with bulimia and how her faith helped her heal.
"I found strength and my path to eating disorder recovery through my faith," Bure wrote to her nearly 2 million Instagram followers last May, including a photo of her posing in a black and white ensemble on the step-and-repeat of the Eating Recovery Day event.
The actress added, " ... Everyone's journey is unique and for those who need help, I hope they'll visit @eatingrecovery today, on #EatingRecoveryDay. But let's also continue the conversation. I know that if I needed ERC's help, they would have been there for me too, like they are for so many patients, to provide the best treatment available in the country for those affected by eating disorders."