Meet Erin Konheim Mandras, a Baltimore-based blogger and motivational speaker. She runs the blog Kick the Scale, which chronicles her journey to body acceptance.
How did you get started with your blog?
In 2014, my son, who was 15 months at the time, was diagnosed with severe food allergies, eosinophilic esophagitis, an esophageal inflammation known as EoE, and a feeding disorder. He was admitted to Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital’s six-week Intensive Feeding Program to learn how to eat, trust food and gain weight. I just couldn’t get past the irony of my history regarding an eating disorder and his feeding issues.
My eating disorder, which developed in 2003 as a collegiate athlete at Michigan State University, had been kept confidential and private up to that point. It was during that time I began writing and believed it was my calling to publicize my journey. The topic is extremely prevalent, yet not discussed openly enough. I felt that if I detailed my story and shared my experiences, then maybe I would be able to relate to and help others.
What has the response been?
The response to my blog, Kick the Scale, and publicizing my journey of developing, battling and overcoming a significant eating disorder has been mind-blowing. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get a day thanking me for what I am doing and disclosing similar struggles. The opportunities that I have been given to speak in front of audiences to raise awareness, educate and inspire others related to eating disorders and body image have been invigorating. Ultimately, my goal is to save an education, athletic career, or even a life.
How has becoming a parent shaped your message?
After becoming a parent, my message is even more powerful, as I now have the perspective of a student, athlete, coach, and now mother. I believe it is my obligation to break the silence around eating disorders. Unfortunately, girls are developing eating disorders at younger and younger ages. If no one is willing to discuss the harms of eating disorders and body-shaming, then it will not get any better. Eating disorders and body image are topics to be discussed no matter how young. We want girls to feel comfortable asking questions, fighting the stigma and stereotypes and understanding the seriousness behind eating disorders.
Tell us a little bit about your son’s journey.
Today, my son is 4 ½ years old. He still has severe food allergies, but is thriving, and we couldn’t be more thankful. Food allergies have definitely affected our everyday life, as it presents challenges in family, school and every aspect of life. It has taken time to find a new normal after his diagnosis, but we do our best to focus on the positive and keep him safe. He is a happy, healthy and active boy.
How do you prepare for speaking engagements?
For speaking engagements, the audiences vary based on age, gender, interests, etc. So, my focus is to know my audience, know how to relate to them, and then, develop a presentation that resonates with them.
What is something you wish people knew about eating disorders?
I wish everyone knew that eating disorders are not a choice, but are severe psychiatric illnesses that are influenced by many factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental stressors, personality and more. Eating disorders do not discriminate by age, gender, socioeconomic status, nationality, culture or race.