I spent the majority of my teens obsessed with the fact that I wasn’t good enough. My stomach wasn’t quite small enough, my boobs weren’t quite big enough, I wasn’t tall enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t good enough for anyone or anything. I remember that feeling to this day – it was as all consuming. By the time I was 17 I had tried to make myself ‘good enough’ by starving myself and I was admitted to an eating disorder hospital with anorexia and bulimia. Being removed from my parents, my friends, my home, and my comforting eating disorder was like the end of the world for me. I felt alone, angry, out of control, I felt like the whole world was against me. Looking back now, hospitalisation was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I worked with doctors, nurses, counselors, psychologists, dieticians and physiotherapists. Collectively they taught me how important it was to nourish, move and treat my body with love and appreciation. The experience taught me how to listen to my body, how to read what it wanted when. It ultimately led me to my career today and my goal of helping other women love and appreciate their body in the same way.
Just like every other woman I still have bad body image days, and I have to remind myself of how incredible my body is and why it always will be. Next time you are having a bad body image day, step back, breathe and try these simple body love steps:
- Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and say ‘I love you’ repeatedly until you laugh, cry or feel something else. It might seem odd and it will almost definitely feel very odd, perhaps even very uncomfortable. But trust me on this one, it will result in you believing it.
- Move your body – go for a walk, stretch, dance around your lounge room, whatever it takes for you to realise just how lucky you are to have a functioning body that is all yours. I mean wow! The eating disorder unit of my hospital was located close to the main hospital. Watching people who would give anything for a functioning body really helped put things in to perspective about how great mine truly was.
- Treat yourself to a long hot bath, a facemask, paint your nails; do something that makes you feel good about the way your body looks. It may sound vain, but hey, feeling bad about your body because you don’t look exactly like the other girls on instagram is vain, right?
- Talking of instagram – stop looking at those girls! You know the ones I am talking about, it will only make you feel bad. Instead, look at cute puppies, sunshine beaches, positive affirmations, cute kids; these will all make you feel far better than someone else’s perfect abs will.
- Journal your feelings. Writing down the way you feel is a great way to express how you are feeling. And if applicable, it will also give you something to refer back to when determining any patterns for your negative self-talk. The journal I kept during my time in hospital became a huge tool in my recovery, and is often something I still draw from today.
- Talk to someone – a friend, a counselor, a life coach, a partner. The saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is absolutely true. Talking to someone really will reduce that weight on your shoulders, whatever it may be. If I hadn’t had a huge network of support around me to use as sounding boards during recovery, I can confidently say I wouldn’t be writing this post now.
If you are struggling with mental illness, know there is help out there. For more resources, visit: