I grew up in different places, different schools and in different environments. My family have “Itchy feet” and never stay in one place forever. When I was eight years old I hit puberty and started to gain weight. The other girls noticed: they would stare at me while I changed and it made me uncomfortable. I stopped playing sport because of it and I would always get comments from other parents about me needing to eat less or exercise more. When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa and Fibromyalgia. Nobody believed I had that until I stopped eating long enough to look ill. Eating Disorders have many faces.
I started modelling at 13 but if I was ever going to be healthy again I was going to gain weight. The modelling world weren’t happy about that. I didn’t get work for a while and it was disheartening. Not only was I “fat” but I was also “short.” I couldn’t change my height so my eating was once again the only thing I could control.
My eating disorder affected me sporadically throughout my teenage years to the point of making me think I could achieve nothing if I wasn’t thin. I was a bright child and and wanted to go University so when I was 17 that became my priority. It was the only thing that mattered more.
It was only once I started University that I began to accept that I needed to work on my own mental health. The stigma surrounding it made me angry rather than scared. I started to realise how often we all talked about how much we hated our bodies. It occurred to me that I didn’t want to spend my life feeling unhappy in my body and I didn’t want other people to go through what I did to come to that conclusion.
In my last year of A-Levels I said to my teacher “I’m going to change the world,” and she said nothing but gave me a look as if to say “Are you sure about that?” There was no faith in that look but it was alright because I had started nurturing my own self-belief. A self-belief that only became possible once I overcame the dark thoughts about my body and my eating.
Self-hate is an epidemic and it must be overcome. It has become apparent to me that once I accepted myself, all other elements of my life fell into place. I would like other young people to know what can be achieved once they accept themselves. To remember that no matter what a parent, teacher, friend or stranger says, they deserve to be happy no matter what.