Pearl scholarship awarded to nearby Conn. student

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FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. — Brierley Lloyd, the 2019 Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship recipient, is pursuing studies in journalism not because she loves the media but because she wants to help shift some of the messages it sends.

In her scholarship essay, Lloyd wrote that becoming a journalist had always been her dream, but that her motive for her career choice had changed during a two-month inpatient treatment for an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.

She described the feeling she gets from being surrounded by so-called health and beauty magazines at the grocery store checkout. "I am stared at by the digitally enhanced eyes of women with sculpted abs and long, tan, muscular legs."

While she was longing to gain weight to save her failing organs and depressive mindset, she found herself surrounded by body fat-free magazine and social media models posed next to headlines like "Bikini Body Fast!" and "10 Foods for a Flat Stomach."

Lloyd, instead of condemning these articles and posts declares: "I must be part of the revolution. Eating disorders are not simply a disease of the mind and body but of society itself. ... We must change the symbol of health, disbanding the idea that a flat stomach is a prerequisite for respect. We must make it so the eyes that watch young girls as they check out at the grocery store are ones filled with the light of a nourished body, and the encouragement from one healthy woman to another."

Lloyd, the daughter of Sarah Jack and William Lloyd, graduated on June 18 from Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Canaan, Conn., and is the first student from the school to be named a Pearl scholar. The $2,000 award is named in remembrance of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, a former reporter for the North Adams Transcript, The Berkshire Eagle and The Wall Street Journal. It supports students in The Eagle readership area who are pursuing the study of either music or journalism, Pearl's twin passions that he believed could change the world for the better.

With a developing lifeguard's tan, bright eyes and warm smile, some could say Lloyd herself has model looks, but, she said, "being skinny is not a prerequisite for being healthy." In a world where women and men can instantly scroll through scores of images and follow accounts of influencers with picture-perfect lives pawning fitness fashions and weight-loss drinks, she poses this point: "What's profitable might not be helpful to people."

Lloyd said, that in her ideal world, media platforms would push content with context, such as the fact that diets and exercise plans are not one-size-fits-all.

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In her essay, Lloyd describes how she struggled to comprehend what was happening to her body when she was following what articles told her to do: "Eat clean: I ate only fruits and vegetables. Exercise daily: I ran in place during my typical 45-minute shower that was my only way to eliminate the ache of my withering body. Always read labels: I researched calorie content of envelope glue and toothpaste. I was asked how I had let it get that far. I was asked how I had not realized what I was doing was killing me. But how is a young girl supposed to recognize disordered eating if it is indistinguishable from the "healthy" lifestyle promoted by every model she sees on TV commercials?"

Lloyd said that it wasn't until she met with a nutritionist, who explained the science behind her condition and the physiological effects that her habits were having on her, that she was able to begin to make the choices that were healthiest for her.

Now, Lloyd wants to be an advocate for helping people to find positive influences, good information and healthy social networks, both online and in the real world.

"Social media is such a big part of our lives, but everything on your feed should never make you feel less about yourself, and everything that you do should affect you positively," she said.

She will attend Suffolk University in Boston this fall with an interest in studying health and nutrition, as well as journalism. She hopes to eventually open a private nutrition counseling practice and a gym that promotes fitness over weight loss. She also envisions writing health articles the include good research and well-informed perspectives.

In recommending her for the scholarship, Peter C. Vermilyea, chairman of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School social studies department, wrote, "Brierley is set apart by her passion. This is a young woman who truly cares about making her world a better place, and she believes that education and information are keys to achieving this."

Lloyd writes in her essay: "The obstacle I faced is not a single challenge I have overcome. I will be presented with the chance to face and grow from challenges every day for the rest of my life. For millions of young women, growth and self-love can only become possible if the current women's health narrative is addressed and our cultural standards revised."

To learn more about the Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship Program and how to apply or donate, visit: berkshireeagle.com/daniel_pearl_berkshire_scholarship.html.

Editor's note: It is estimated in the United States, that 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life and a disorder can develop as early as childhood. To learn more about how to help yourself or a loved one, contact a local physician or the National Eating Disorder Association's helpline at 800-931-2237, use the "click-to-chat" instant messaging system via nationaleatingdisorders.org/helplinechat, or, in case of a crisis, text "NEDA" to 741741 to reach a helpline volunteer. 


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