Just another annual beauty pageant?Not so if Dacula’s JulieGraybill is participating. Win or loose, this 26-year-old brown-eyed beauty is on a mission!Representing Georgia in the National Pageant to be held August 1-6 in Las Vegas, Nevada, her platform is a controversial topic that was born from personal experience; one that every young person, and parent, should be aware of.
As a 20-year-old college student, JulieGraybill’s personal torment and despair peaked.“Honestly, I did not want to live; instead I would go to sleep hoping not to wake up,” she says.“I was alone, consumed by guilt, and too ashamed to seek help.”
Graybill’s journey has been a long one; one she feels God called her to share.The topic, her pageant platform and personal testimony, is called “A Hunger for Something Greater: Eating Disorder Awareness and Prevention.”
Unknowingly to the freckled face young Julie at the time, the root of her disorder would begin at age 8 as a third grader.Following the summer before school started, Julie began her first diet due to some weight gain during the summer months.Compliments began immediately.“Oh, you have lost weight and look so good!Your dress looks good on you,” says Julie, recalling the comments.“I remember how good I felt when people noticed and commented on my new shape.This is where it began although it did not progress to the point of desperation until 13 years later.”
During high school JulieGraybill was a member of the Parkview Cheerleading Team and was crowned homecoming queen in 1994.This same year she was crowned MissTeenGeorgia.Competing in the 1995 Pageant for MissTeenAmerica, Julie was awarded first runner-up for the national title.Julie’s busy life as a teenager did not allow her disorder to surface; that would occur later in college.
In 1995 she enrolled at GracelandUniversity, Lamoni, Iowa.The busy everyday life as a teenager in her home setting was replaced with the anonymity of a first year college student in a small town, far removed from the populace and comfort of GwinnettCounty.
“My eating disorder owned me,” says Julie.“It lied to me and made me miserable.In college I finally faced my darkest most desperate moment.In the fall of 1997, I dropped to my knees in my lonely apartment weeping in hopelessness, completely fatigued, emotionally and physically.I cried out to Jesus for help.Jesus knew my secret, but He was the only one.I couldn’t stand it another day; I was in a destructive cycle that I could not get myself out of.I knew that Christ was my only answer.”
Finding the crumbled piece of paper where she had earlier written the phone number of a local hospital, Julie, with God’s help, summoned the energy to depress the numbers on the telephone.The desperate call was disappointing as it was answered by an answering machine, where she left a crying plea for help.Within 5 minutes she received a callback from Leslie, a nurse from IowaLutheranHospital’s Eating Disorder unit.
“I told Leslie everything,” says Julie.“I told her how both of my eyes had broken blood vessels; how I had a sinus infection for months because I could not keep antibiotics down; how I was running 7 miles a day; how I had 18 college semester hours and was burnt out; how I couldn’t ever measure up to what I wanted to be, and how I couldn’t control my life.”
Facing her most dreaded worry, Julie began treatment by letting family know of her disorder.Continuing her education and attending support therapy, while renewing her faith in Christianity, Julie graduated with highest honors, both personal and academic (Magna Cum Laude), from GracelandUniversity in 1999.
Mission for others
Married to husband Nathan whom she met in college, Julie is now a stay at home mom to their two year old daughter Faith.Previously she taught elementary school for three years.
“I have a personal testimony of recovering from an eating disorder and now dedicate myself to helping others who are struggling,” says Julie.“I entered the Mrs.Georgia pageant with one goal in mind—to share my struggle, my new hope, my victory in Christ, helping others who are going through similar situations.”
JulieGraybill leads an eating disorder support group.The group meets each 2nd and 4th Tuesday at Gwinnett Community of ChristChurch in Dacula from —It’s free and open to anyone.Julie will be glad to give you more information by phone at 770-654-0956.