Despite its serious subject matter, professional actress Carol Anderson’s one-woman show on eating disorders and body image, “A Size 6 Forever,” is really a message of hope, she told students at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Wednesday.
Anderson said her 12-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia bloomed while she was attending a Christian liberal arts college. “I cried out to God, and I said some good could come out of all of these seeming years of waste, something that could offer a message of hope to somebody. Maybe it would be worth it,” she told students in the DeSantis Family Chapel.
Anderson said she wrote the show, in which she portrays various characters dealing with eating disorders, a year into her three-year recovery. She performed the play for students during chapel, and at 7 p.m. she will speak on the topic “Thirsting for Wholeness” at a special chapel for female students only.
She cited recent statistics indicating that one out of four women struggles with food and body image, while one out of 10 is clinically anorexic or bulimic. Among men, 1 in 100 suffers from a form of body dysmorphic disorder. “No matter how big they get, they see themselves as small,” she said.
“A Size 6 Forever” uses humor to raise awareness about eating disorders and body image concerns, and the play also addresses issues of faith. One character named Betsy attends an Overeaters Anonymous meeting for the first time. “It’s kind of embarrassing because I’m a Christian,” the character says. “I’m supposed to have it all together in this area of my life.”
Anderson said she, too, looked heavenward for answers. Three years into her recovery, she said she felt the presence of God in a life-changing way.
“(I) was being filled with the presence of His love, that love I’d been hungering for, that I’d tried to fill up with food, control, bad relationships and achievements,” she said.
She considers her life verse to be 2nd Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
She described healing as “having life go from black and white to Technicolor.”
“Life, it is so good. And it is worth the work, the process of pursuing getting well,” she said.
She encouraged students in need of counseling to seek it, and she asked everyone to help friends who might be suffering.
“If someone had come to me in the midst of my struggle when I was in college and had said, ‘It can get bad but healing is possible and it is in Jesus’ … it could have made a big difference.”
Anderson has previously performed at PBA with her husband, Jim Shores, as part of their theater company Acts of Renewal.
She was the second of two guest speakers this week for the Health and Wellness department’s annual body management chapel series. Tuesday’s speaker, former NFL player Heath Evans, spoke during the morning and also at an evening chapel for male students.