Spotlighting young writers with heartfelt stories that enlighten and inspire.

Imperfect: A Story of Body Image


A Story of Body Image

by Dounya Awada

Dounya, a Muslim girl living in Las Vegas, Nevada, shares her very personal story of battling eating disorders when she was a teenager, in order to help other young people suffering from this affliction.

Imperfect: A Story of Body Image is the fourth in a series of graphic novels written by young adults for their peers.

Dounya Awada is a 24-year-old, devout Muslim, happy, healthy, and very much alive. But just a few years before, she nearly starved to death.

Her struggle began when she was six years old.

Little Dounya wanted nothing less than to be perfect, like her mother. She pushed herself hard every day, excelling in schoolwork and at home. She had to be the cutest, prettiest, smartest girl in the room. The slightest hint of imperfection led to meltdowns and uncontrollable tantrums. Her parents loved her fiercely but were unable to understand what was happening to their little girl.

Being perfect all the time was exhausting. In Dounya’s culture, food is nearly synonymous with love. Food is nourishment, nourishment is love, love is life. Dounya began to eat to fill the growing need within her. She grew in size, eventually hitting over 200 pounds at just age 15. Food became her only friend. Her peers mocked her. She felt utterly alone.

As is the case for someone with dysmorphia, Dounya’s obsession with food did a turnabout, and she began rigorous exercising and dieting. But even a substantial weight loss didn’t satisfy her. She looked in the mirror and still saw the fat girl she used to be. She began the ugly cycle of bingeing and purging, eventually hitting a low weight of just 73 pounds.

Dounya’s horrific struggle with eating disorders has led her to advocate for boys and girls facing the same hurdles with which she struggled. She is now studying clinical psychology, and hopes to open an eating and dysmorphia disorder facility in Las Vegas for boys and girls with her disorder. If her story helps just one person to recognize the beauty of their imperfection, then her pain will have been worthwhile.

Publication Date: April 16, 2019
ISBN: 9781947378070

Buy the Book

Available online and at your local bookstores.

Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Powell’s | Indigo

eBook: Comixology


“A sensitive, firsthand treatment of the topic made all the richer by its inclusion of the author’s religion and culture.” — Kirkus

“Dounya . . . shares her very personal story in order to help other young people suffering from this affliction.” — CrazyQuiltEdi


Dounya Awada


Born to Middle-Eastern parents in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dounya is now a 24-year-old woman, a devout Muslim, and a college student, majoring in clinical psychology. Dounya’s experience battling Body Dysmorphic Disorder—a dangerous obsession with real or imagined flaws in one’s body—has inspired her to help other young people who suffer from this illness. Dounya enjoys cooking, writing, and hanging with her friends and family.


Imperfect: Intro
Imperfect: Interviews
What kind of child was Dounya?
Why did your daughter do this graphic novel on body dysmorphia?
Dounya’s brother Nasim testimonial and song
The importance of “speaking up” and accepting help
Helpful hints to recovery
Why is your message for those suffering from body dysmorphia?
When did you realize Dounya had a problem?
A heartfelt message in Arabic from Dounya’s mother, Lamia
What were your thoughts about the finished book?
What was your darkest day with your daughter?
What advice would you give parents about this disease?


Downloadable Guide

Contains: vocabulary activity, student worksheet and answer key, discussion topics, writing prompts, extension activities, and a reading comprehension test.


Five Parent Take-Aways About Body Image

Dramatic weight change can be the first warning sign of an eating disorder.
It’s important for an adolescent to be seen by a medical professional and have their BMI (Body Mass Index) checked. If it’s lower than 13.5, it’s important to assess what has led to this loss of weight. A significant weight gain in a short period of time, could be a sign of BED (Binge Eating Disorder).

Modeling a healthy relationship with food is crucial.
If mothers/fathers talk about dieting or food as good/bad, this can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s important for parents to have an abundance and variety of food in the house that is nourishing but also tasty. No food should be off limits unless one has a medical condition that prevents them from enjoying all kinds of food.

Commenting negatively on one’s own body can lead to development of negative body image.
It’s extremely important for mothers in particular to think about the comments they make about their own bodies in front of their children (especially their daughters).

Sometimes being connected spiritually or to a higher power can serve as a protective factor in the recovery process.
Being connected to a religion, being spiritual, or having a form of a higher power can sometimes help aid the recovery process from an eating or body image problem.

If parents suspect their child has an eating disorder they should seek help sooner rather than later.
Many times, it’s the denial of the reality or gravity of the problem that hinders the help-seeking process. It’s extremely important that parents seek out the help they need as early as possible.

Credit: Aviva Braun L.C.S.W., specializing in body image and eating disorders.


Aviva Braun

Aviva Braun, L.C.S.W., is in private practice in Manhattan. She works with adolescent and adult women who suffer from eating and body image problems. She has written for The Sisterhood blog of The Forward and for


Miralti Firmansyah

Miralti Firmansyah


Miralti Firmansyah is an Indonesian artist who studied graphic design iin Bandung. Her big break as a comic artist was on Marvel’s Star-Lord & Kitty Pryde. She has also drawn Marvel’s X-Men’92, The Unbelievable Gwenpool, and Thor vs Hulk. She lives in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Fahriza Kamaputra

Fahriza Kamaputra


Fahriza Kamaputra was born in 1983 and raised in southern Jakarta. Fahriza grew up immersed in comic books and video games which kept his interest long after finishing school and studying Information Technology at college. It was his main interest and pastime, so with the inspiration of the many great artists in Indonesia he decided to follow his dream to do coloring and Illustration for comic books by training himself with the help of other artists. In 2010 he worked as colorist on a local comic book Vienetta and the Stupid Aliens which led to his work on the web comic Rokki and Madeleine Holly-Rosling’s Boston Metaphysical Society with the studio STELLAR LABS. Fahriza now works as a freelance artist. 


The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners. NWP, the nation’s foremost network for teacher professional development, is proud to support the Zuiker Press initiative.

Our plan to help children with our graphic novels is simple. We raise private funding from people, companies, and foundations who care about children. Those donations allow us to make them available to teachers, counselors, and school libraries and to spread the word about these compelling true stories to school districts that need these books.

We also provide downloadable guides to each book for teachers as added resources, often at no charge to the teachers.

Do you want to save a child’s life? Our graphic novels do just that by healing and providing hope to those who need it most. Reading is power. Your gift will be designated to support the Zuiker Press School Book Fund, and with your generous gift, more schools will be able to take advantage of the important work that Zuiker Press is doing to help young people tell the stories of their resilience in meeting the challenges that young people face today.

Your tax-deductible donation is one click away.