Q: When I saw you continuing your work as a model I couldn't help wondering to what extent modeling itself contributes to the high stakes women and more and more men have in their looks. What do you think? Isn't there a less threatening way to honor bodies?
Dev from Massachusetts
Dillon: Dev, you're absolutely right. One of the reasons I quit being a skinny model was because I felt so bad being part of the entity, the fashion business, that inflicts these ridiculous ideals upon our culture. As a plus-size model I try to use the glamour and allure of fashion to promote a more diversified concept of beauty.
Q: I was touched by your genuineness and sincerity on NOVA's "Dying to be Thin" program. Currently, I am suffering from bulimia nervosa, though for the past four years I dealt with anorexia. I have had experience in the modeling industry as well, and I felt a connection to you when I listened to your story. I suppose what I'd really like to know is what made you change. At what point in your life did you decide to give up your disordered eating habits and live a healthy lifestyle again? WHY? I mean, the answer to the latter seems obvious, but then again, to an E.D. sufferer, it doesn't. In sum, when and what was your turning point? With admiration and thanks,
Anonymous from Michigan
Dillon: Anon, I chose to abandon my self-destruction when I was 20. I say "chose" because it was literally a conscious decision. I'd always admired people for being strong, individual, and creative. I'd never considered beauty or thinness valuable or interesting; I only felt I needed to be thin to appease my peers so they'd quit making fun of me! So, at 20, I decided to judge myself the way I judged others—for their strength, intelligence, creativity, innovation, etc. I realized this choice might render me "fat" or "ugly" or "lame." I chose to respect myself for being myself. I just suddenly knew, like I know 2+2=4, that I wanted to be free from cultural standards.
Q: I admire you so much—you appear so beautiful and self-assured. I am a 29-year-old bulimic and anorexic who cannot get help. I've been hospitalized 25 times. Now I weigh 65 pounds. I hate myself sooooooo much. My question to you is: How did you grow to love and accept yourself, to say, no matter what, I'm ok?
Sarah from Massachusetts
Dillon: Sarah, it makes me sad to imagine you in so much pain. You know I understand your feelings. I don't know how I learned to love myself, I just kind of made a decision to do it. I knew it would be a rocky road to recovery, a road I believe I will always be on. Deep within you somewhere is the beautiful soul you were born with. She loves you because she wrote to me asking for help. Sarah, you have to just choose to be alive. You love yourself more than you know, you've just been telling yourself some pretty nasty things for some time now. You've trained yourself to feel badly. But it's not real, and if you can step outside all the nastiness for a minute you'll see what's real. I used to take long walks in nature, smelling the pine and eucalyptus trees. I'd marvel at my body because it worked. I felt so lucky that I had legs to walk on. I'd look at the stars and feel so happy I could sit peacefully and stare at the sky. And I'd listen to music, paint, and write. Sarah, these are the real things. Please believe me. It isn't that you can't get help, because you can. You just haven't been ready. Get yourself ready, ok? I promise that no matter what, if you stay committed you'll be so happy you did.
Q: Being a recovered anorexic myself, I'm wondering if it was it hard to gain back the weight and except your "new body." I had and am still having a hard time accepting my larger, yet healthier body. Also, I am a student at Kansas State University, and I was wondering if you would be willing to speak about your experience during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Thank you.
Anonymous from Kansas
Dillon: Anon, yes it was very difficult to accept the weight gain. Recovery is rarely if ever overnight. I knew I wanted to get better, and I had a vision of my recovered self, but getting from one to the other wasn't easy for me. Stay with yourself, you'll make it, I swear. I can't even imagine feeling the way I used to. I mean, I can't even really talk about it because I can't even really remember the feelings. I'm so proud of you for believing in yourself and taking the steps toward freedom. Your weight will be funny and will fluctuate, but eventually it will even out, and someday you won't even think about it. Yes, I'd be happy to speak during Eating Disorders week, I usually do. Contact the "Lordly and Dame" lecture agency in Boston, they represent me.