Josi Maria, the girl with an infectious smile, captivating personality, and blue eyes that sparkled with anticipation; one would never suspect her silent struggle . Behind that smile was a girl who kept a secret part of herself hidden; until she obtained the courage to share with her followers her struggle with a deadly disorder, Anorexia Nervosa. Just weeks before her death, Maria came forward and shared a part of her life that she had kept secret since her childhood, but it seems it may have been too late. Maria was ready to accept help and begin her recovery from her eating disorder,but unfortunately it was her eating disorder that won the fight. Maria’s revelation, continuous sense of positivity, and words of inspiration will hopefully help others defeat this deadly disease.

Maria, born and raised in Kiel, a northern city in Germany, was 24 years old when she died unexpectedly from circulatory problems related to anorexia. In an Instagram post dated November 2020, Maria stated that she “struggled with anorexia since childhood – and that it took a toll on her life over the past two years.” Maria became an Instagram icon in July 2012 when she began posting photos of her favorite foods, all of them being on the healthy side, even the desserts. Maria began to post photos of herself before and after her daily workout routines at the gym; showing her followers the gradual changes in her body. Over time her healthy routine turned into an obsession with being thin. One would have agreed that her fitness routine was Maria being health conscious, until the changes in her body showed her as devastatingly emaciated. At the time of Marias death, she had become an Instagram influencer with a following of 138,000.

Anorexia, Obsession or Perfection?

So many questions are left unanswered as to what triggered Maria’s eating disorder. Anorexia attacks no only the body but the mental state of the mind. It is the constant battle for perfection; not only for yourself, but for social acceptance. Maria appeared to her followers as a young woman that valued herself, as her self-confidence glistened in her photos. But behind the smile Maria was trying to find out how to make her self happy. She did this though her words of optimism and hope in each of her Instagram posts. Following her revelation of her eating disorder, Maria remained positive and put her feelings into words of hope for others. Marias Instagram post on November 7, 2020 regarded anorexia as; “a mental disorder, the anorexia. you don’t choose that either. Many think you are doing it on purpose, you want attention by losing weight. No! She makes you feel you can do something, just the wrong way.” Although her words are brief, they are heavy. Her battle with anorexia is moderately detailed, but Maria doesn’t appear to be seeking pity, rather, a plea for some sort of understanding of this misunderstood illness.

It’s unclear if publicity had put too much pressure on Maria, as a role model she was expected to look “perfect”, thus creating a stronger relationship with her eating disorder. Maria commented soon after going public that “she didn’t want to be one of 10 to die of anorexia. Anorexia is not a matter of weight, but of the head.” Maria repeats multiple times that anorexia affects the mind more than the body, it’s the voice that tells you “thin is better,” but this disease doesn’t allow you to decide when thin is thin enough. Like many individuals, Maria was ready to fight back, but anorexia creates a space in the mind that one cannot escape. Maria began to post photos of her self at her lowest weight and through her posts she was warning girls, women, and men of how dangerous an eating disorder can become. The U.S. Sun had posted Maria as saying “I want to share my thoughts, and how that I am actively fighting anorexia. I also want to say, that we should not hide ourselves away no matter what psychological illnesses we have.” “And I want to say to everybody who doubts themselves that you are all wonderful, and be yourself and don’t try and change.” Maria’s words of encouragement and self love impacted a fan that called Maria ‘an angel.”

A Picture of Inspiration

Maria’s pictures are a reflection of who she was; a young woman with a colorful life filled with dreams, not a life lost to anorexia. Eating disorders don’t discriminate and often attach themselves to people you would least expect. Maria, a normal girl growing up and starting her life invited her followers to share in her excitement of moving into her own apartment, her frustration when some of her household items were not delivered on time; her love of warm weather, and not so much the cold; her anticipation to put 2020 behind her and start a new chapter in her life; and her new puppy! Maria was a girl who enjoyed taking selfies and wearing vintage style clothes. She resembled a girl in the 60’s with her flowly dresses and headbands. She posted pictures acting silly, and other when she looked serious and uncertain.

Maria’s Instagram posts will be remembered as uplifting and inspirational as she pushed everyone to put themselves first. She would often post random thoughts such as; “Be yourself, don’t be judged by others. Let you shine,” and “Be your own role model, your own art work, your own gift.” Maria’s words were meant to enlighten a persons day, or add a hint of light to someone living in a dark. She had a gift for instilling positive thoughts in others that are silently suffering with an eating disorder of their own. Maria didn’t need affirmation from anorexia to know she would influence other’s lives, it came naturally.

“Always remember: not everyone lets you look behind the facade, But you can be sure that each of us is struggling with ourselves. Don’t feel alone, you are not alone.” Josi Maria 9/14/2020

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