Meet Lily Trudeau, the embodiment of joy, kindness, and strength far beyond her years.
At first glance, Lily is an all-American, happy-go-lucky California beauty. Originally from Massachusetts, Lily moved to San Luis Obispo when she was seven years old with her family...and a bunch of really cool animals.
"I live with goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, turtles, a chameleon, bearded dragons, and fish," Lily told me. "It was awesome, and I think it really influenced me to want to become a vet. My mom and I did rescues for all kinds of animals too, including marine life."
Lily and her mother have been volunteering at Pacific Wildlife in California for about three years, on call to save animals and take them to care units to save their lives. And if Marine Conservation wasn't enough, Lily and her mother also work for a pitbull rescue called "Shadows Fund."
"It comes so natural to me and I just want to help animals as much as I possibly can."
And although Lily's advocacy for animals is admirable, she's also an advocate for something much more personal: herself.
"Two years ago I got down to 78 pounds and was very unhappy and sick," Lily said. "I was diagnosed with anorexia, anxiety, and depression."
After realizing that she needed help, Lily sought professional support and nearly two years later, she's clear on the path to a safe and healthy recovery. And now, it's one of her own personal passions to help others discover their worth and recover just as she did.
After making connections with other women in her ED Support Group, she continues to help them, and her friends who are struggling, through recovery.
"It's been really hard; I have really good days and really bad days, but I have improved so much in the past two years and I've never been happier than where I am right now."
Now as a high school senior, Lily is focused on a bright future full of giving back to others. In the fall, Lily will be enrolling at Santa Barbara City College's Veterinary program before transferring to San Diego State University to further her career as a vet.
At the end of our talk, I asked Lily, "If there was one thing you'd want to say to the world, your overall message, what would it be?"
"Just be kind." Lily said, "Even when no one is watching."
That quote is what makes Lily Trudeau such a remarkable person. Through the ups and downs, she is the type of person to smile through it all and come out a stronger, better version of herself. Someone so wonderful, kind, beautiful, giving, and strong is fully deserving of being in the Spotlyte.
If you are someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please visit these resources: