Julia Knoll

“With my own confidence, [I know] my personality is going to take me much farther in life,” Mary said. “That’s the way God intended it to be.”

Mary stopped her followers mid-scroll Jan. 6, 2019. Photos of her unsucked-in, relaxed stomach showed on her Instagram account that day, and not by accident.

“I posted those photos because I see all the perfect people on Instagram,” Mary said. “When I don’t pose perfectly, I don’t look like [them]. I wanted to post [a picture of my stomach] because I know a lot of importance is put on how we look.”

According to Mary, the post came after a prior Instagram post that showed her abs. She said she didn’t want her peers to compare themselves to her like she had compared herself to others when she severely limited what she ate.

“[By the end of 2017] the confidence I had was completely based off of, ‘I’m thin,’” Mary said. “I [began] binge eating because I [had] a lot of stress with finals. I was starting to eat more because [after] you restrict yourself that much you constantly want what you can’t have.”

According to Julie Frizzell, Mary’s mother, Mary is not the only person in their family to struggle with eating issues. Mary’s mother, aunt and grandmother had all dealt with eating disorders.

You don’t want someone to walk in while you are eating ice cream for lunch.”

“I felt that it was God’s timing that she would trust me [to tell me about her binge eating,]” Julie said. “She didn’t realize [before I told her], but I had struggled with an eating disorder in college. I had always wondered when I was going to share that with her. It really was an answered prayer. I was thankful that she invited me in to be a part of her struggle.”

Mary said she felt isolated while binge eating because the side effects were not as noticeable compared to other eating disorders. She said that most people notice the extreme weight loss associated with anorexia, but the people around her thought she had just put on a few pounds.

“Whenever my family wasn’t around [I would binge],” Mary said. “You don’t want someone to walk in while you are eating ice cream for lunch. [I was] having to wear baggy sweatshirts because I was so bloated. It was helpful to open up to one person because then [I could] be broken with them.”

In Mary’s Jan. 6 Instagram post she also included two Bible verses. During her four years at KHS, Mary has been a part of a weekly, all-girl small group through KLIFE, a nonprofit Christian ministry for youth. According to Olivia Oglesby, KLIFE volunteer and mentor to Mary, Mary’s faith helped strengthen her self-confidence.

Julia Knoll

“She’s the only girl who’s stayed all the way [from] freshman year to senior year,” Oglesby said. “[I remember] timid freshman Mary trying to figure out who she wanted to be. I got to walk through all of [high school] with her and see her refined after each hard time. She’s so strong and confident in who she is. Even more than that, [Mary is] who the Lord created her to be.”

Working out and eating healthy meals have also helped improve her self-confidence, according to Mary. After a surgery in February 2018 for a knee she dislocated in July 2017, she signed up for a membership at the Des Peres Lodge and followed an 8-week workout plan from fitness Instagrammer Sarah Day.

“My confidence slowly started to rise and get better when I started to move again,” Mary said. “[I was] still binge eating every once [in] a while but not as much. The binge eating started tailing off into overeating and then eating normally.”

Mary said she works out four to six times a week. According to Saylor Smith, senior and friend of Mary, Mary’s fitness is motivational.

This culture is driven from images that come from the highlight reel and i loved her willingness to share something real.”

“When I met her freshman year, she wasn’t necessarily huge into working out and eating healthy,” Smith said. “Seeing her [workout now] has made me want to [workout] too.”

Following Mary’s knee surgery, she has made fitness part of her lifestyle from running on weekend mornings to the foods she puts in her smoothies. But, according to Mary, her physique is not her top priority.

“With my own confidence, [I know] my personality is going to take me much farther in life,” Mary said. “That’s the way God intended it to be. It’s beautiful that He created me with a soft stomach so that I can relate to other women and girls in an even more intimate way. I think it’s a gift.”

Along with more than 75 comments, Mary received six positive private messages about her post. According to Mary, knowing that she left a positive impact on others felt rewarding.

“Mary is wise and gifted with language,” Julie said. “You can use that in two ways. You can manipulate people to get your way and the other [way] is to help people, which is what she does.”

Julia Knoll