Trigger warning: This story contains mentions of eating disorders (ED) — Anorexia, Bulimia.

Khushi Jain, who has now overcome bulimia, anorexia nervosa, body dysmorphia, and orthorexia, shares her journey to inspire more women suffering from similar conditions. As a teenager, Khushi Jain would stare at her phone wallpaper — a picture of Kendall Jenner — wanting to be like her.

“She and I are both 5’10 and have the same initials. So I thought I’d have to weigh as much as her,” chuckles Khushi. “I just wanted to be as thin. And every time I looked at my wallpaper, I was inspired to be like her.”

This seemingly innocent aspiration later became a huge issue that threw the now 22-year-old down an emotional spiral. A state and national-level gold medalist in swimming, Khushi, a bright student went to Wesleyan University as a pre-med in 2019.

However, she transferred to NYU the following year to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology as well as a marketing degree. These changes and living away from home spiked her eating disorder.

“I liked this boy who I thought would like me back if I was thinner. That winter, I started exercising into oblivion in the hopes that when I go back to college, he would notice me. The truth is that whatever I did, he still didn’t like me,” she says.

“But this made me lose my energy, so when I went back to swimming, I lost all my races. At the time, I was so attached to the idea of not eating that I thought it would be better to quit swimming,” she adds.

Then in 2020, the pandemic struck and she had to return home. Returning home, however,  raised other problems. “I thought I didn’t deserve to eat because I wasn’t exercising my body. It became much worse when I started treating my disorder as a secret. I would lock myself in my room the whole day,” she says.

She would only eat one meal a day — dinner, as she could not sleep hungry. When she started losing more weight, Khushi was scouted by a modelling agency in Delhi in May 2020, and by August, she had signed a contract.

But this further aggravated her illness. It was in November 2020 when she sought out therapy and decided to quit modelling. She says, “I was diagnosed with anorexia by my therapist in late 2020. I also had symptoms of bulimia, body dysmorphia, and orthorexia.”

Khushi started eating full meals but relapsed in March 2021 when her weight plummeted to her lowest. She says that she was reduced to just skin and bones, and describes her eating disorder as akin to a ‘nasha’ (addiction).

Just as people with addiction have to go to rehab, those suffering from eating disorders also have to recover similarly, she says. Now recovering from her condition, Khushi says, “I have been getting better, but yes, there are hard days. Even today, I won’t say that I am 100% recovered.”

She continues, “I still have thoughts about weight gain, but now the voice that tells me not to eat is a lot softer than the voice that tells me there is so much more to life!”