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However, she says that she still keeps a “low profile” within her own community, admitting that some of her good friends don’t even know about the eating disorder in her past.“It's a huge struggle, and it's not just about ' I want to be skinny,' ” Shelli says.For those unfamiliar with the subject, dating is a relatively simple procedure that must always be hopelessly complicated for any Christian daring to try it out.Sara* can't remember a time in her life when she wasn’t on a diet.In fact, growing up in her Orthodox Jewish community, trying to lose weight was as routine as any other ritual.

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She points to how “ubiquitous the thin ideal is that even in this insular community these messages have come across—even with people who don't have television and don't have access to the internet, this message of [the] thin ideal has seeped in so deeply.”In the Orthodox community, not only can size hinder one’s marriage prospects, but so can the stigma of having received treatment for an eating disorder.If you search “rules for dating,” you may notice the unchurched are just as guideline-happy as the rest of us.It seems that dating might be universally confusing. What makes Christian dating so hopelessly complicated is the Christians themselves.’”Shelli says she told her now-husband when they were dating, and, though surprised, he was very supportive.For years after their marriage, though, she did not disclose her long bout with bulimia to his family.“Being Orthodox and struggling with this or any kind of mental illness in general is a very scary thing, because you think you're going to be excluded from the community and that people are going to judge you—and sometimes, people do.”Shelli has started sharing her experiences not only with her family, but as a volunteer speaker for various eating disorder groups.

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