This past week, I had the honor of interviewing a great friend and fellow eating disorder/body image activist, Shannon Hogan. We have both walked the road of eating disorders and have found hope and healing on the other side. I was blessed to have found Shannon on Facebook after I “liked” her page, Beautifully Broken. Right away, I was intrigued. She started her organization last November and since then it has grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, I was so impressed with the group that I decided to become a sponsor at the beginning of 2014. Shannon seems to have a special gift of sharing her story, being real with people and encouraging others to think positive and believe in themselves. Since the group started, Shannon has seen many transformations take place with the women (and men) whom she (and the volunteers) has been blessed to come to know.
Kellie: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Shannon: My name is Shannon Hogan and I am the founder of Beautifully Broken an organization for those that suffer from eating disorders, trauma, addiction, and other issues. I am also a wife, a mother, stepmother, and a psychology student working hard towards graduate school. My dream is to go to graduate school at a University in California, for my children to attend private schools there, I want to conduct research there, and eventually get my PhD. I have seen repeated tragedy and trauma turn into beauty and blessings before my eyes, and am proof that a beautiful life can come from a broken one.
Kellie: What was your biggest inspiration to start Beautifully Broken? Did you just wake up one day and decide to start this organization or was the idea in the back of your mind for awhile?
Shannon: I never thought of starting an organization. However, ironically enough I found a journal from rehab the other day, and in it I had written “Beautifully Broken.” I remember thinking that one day I would take all of the brokenness that was shattered pieces of my life, and look back and use it as motivation and hopefully inspiration to help others, showing them that anything is possible. When I began Beautifully Broken I was pregnant and I had just been warned that if I didn’t slow down from work and stress I would lose my baby. So, I stayed home, and I do not like sitting at home; thus, with the struggle of gaining weight through pregnancy, the shame of saying it was challenging because I felt I would be seen as ungrateful or a sick mother, and sitting with my thoughts trying to prepare to become a mother, Beautifully Broken was born.
Kellie: Tell me a bit about how your support groups work and how others can get involved.
Shannon: The support groups are more like teaching groups. We try to focus on coping skills, motivate others to continue down the path of recovery, and to fight for a life. Many support groups and websites online can be very negative, even if they have good intentions. We are not a substitute for counseling. We do our best to advocate for people to get counseling and treatment that need it. We have found that support group locations are sometimes far and few between, and people do not always have access to them. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to gain skills, and to see that they are not alone. They can access our group schedules on our website. We do have various categories, and are working on getting more volunteers as we are vastly growing. The group program is locked with a password to ensure privacy, protection, and anonymity. One may message us through our email or Facebook page, and we can provide you with the password. After that, one signs in which they may do so as a private guest and enter the group. However, there are rules to avoid triggers, inappropriate language, and a negative atmosphere and we do have the ability to ban someone from the groups if needed, so we are very careful to make sure they are safe and positive!
Kellie: What would you say is your greatest mission as you seek to inspire others?
Shannon: If I had to nail it down to one particular aspect at this moment I would say to inspire every woman that they have a voice, and they are worth using it.
freedigitialphotos.net/source: stuart miles
Kellie: How do you feel about talking with kids about body image? At what age (if any) do you feel is the most appropriate to start asking them how they feel about their body?
Shannon: This subject makes me so uncomfortable because I am totally lost! I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. Every child is different psychologically, biologically, and socially. I think it’s important to not act extreme one way or another, to be accepting, and to not be judgmental. Also, I believe it is very important to practice what you are trying to teach them. If you are trying to teach your children about positive body image, and you are cursing your own body in the mirror which do you think they will listen to? My husband and I did start something new with our 16 month old. She knows that when she listens to us tell her no ( like not to touch an outlet ) we clap our hands and she’ll get praised. She also began to learn the word “pretty.” When a necklace was put on her, a shirt, her hair was done; she would smile contently. It really hit me when she was pitching a fit not to wear a bib, and my husband put it on her and said, “so pretty,” and she stopped and smiled leaving the bib on that she really knows what it means. So now, when she listens, does something sweet, etc. we say “say pretty, beautiful!” We want her to learn that actions and character are what’s beautiful and important …not the exterior.
Kellie: How do you feel about the diet industry in general and in what way do you feel it makes an impact on how women feel about their bodies?
Shannon: I was always trying to perfect different diet fads as a teenager, however; I was not capable of finding that line of balancing what a diet was. It would send me full throttle into my eating disorder. I was not capable of perfecting them, they really seemed to mess with my head. I understand there is a major obesity problem in America, however; there seems to be an even bigger problem with acceptance of oneself and others. If we as humans were not constantly trying to compete with each other then maybe certain issues would not be such a problem. I am overall not a fan of the diet industry whose products for the most are unhealthy, not FDA approved, and narcisistically based.
Kellie: What does good health mean to you?
Shannon: I would say good health to me means mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially stable. I believe health is much more than just numbers or physically appearances. To truly be healthy we must be healthy on the inside, as well as the outside. We must love ourselves, and be capable of doing so.
Shannon and daughter, Nevaeh (left) Shannon and step-daughter, McKenzie (right)
Kellie: I know you have been in recovery for an eating disorder. What piece of advice would you give to others who have walked this road but who feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel?
Shannon: I would say that it is important to focus on the future, and not the darkness and negativity you see around you. I rarely talk about this place at my very worst with my eating disorder, but I do remember the vicious night terrors, sweats, and fears. The almost dark aura that seemed to follow me, and weigh me down so much that I was so exhausted from not doing anything. If you can get your mindset away from that, even for a little while, try to keep practicing it. What would life be like without your eating disorder? This was a scary question for me at first, because I thought I had no identity. But, I found that in one of the sessions we were asked this question and I drew myself at a university sitting in class working on my psychology degree. I really did not feel it then, but I was focusing on the light in that moment, and that’s where I am today..at a university, working on my psychology degree. You may not see the light, but if you can just think, what if….eventually you will get to the I can…then the I will….
Kellie: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I just want to say thank you so much for reading this and I hope you will check out our website and Facebook page for inspiration and motivation no matter where you are in life…you are important, your feelings are valid, you have a voice, and you deserve to use it. Thank you.
Shannon Hogan with husband, Daniel
Thank you, Shannon!! If you want to get involved or just receive daily inspiration, please “like” their Facebook page. And if you are struggling with an eating disorder, I highly encourage you to check out the support groups that Beautifully Broken provides at their website, www.beautifully-broken.org. Shannon is right…. you ARE worth it!!
**Please consider sharing this post as well, to spread the word to those who need to know there is hope and support!**
To finding your beauty within,
Body Image Coach
p.s.– this blog is now linked up to my NEW Website!!! Please visit www.mcgarrywellness.org and find me under the “Nourished and New” tab to learn more about how I can help YOU to find a peaceful relationship with food and with your body.
Also, don’t forget to purchase my book, Beautiful Freedom: a 4 week journey toward radical body-love and passionate living. Find it on Amazon– either paperback or Kindle!