A week ago, I asked my friends on Twitter if there were any particular topics they’d like me to focus on, and they answered. Of all the topics suggested, one stood out: being ‘bodyproud’ and how that can change your life (special thanks to @MindyBlackstien for this wonderful suggestion). I thought to myself, wow… I’ve actually never written about this topic before and yet, body image is something I have struggled with throughout my life! So here it is… My post on body image and the importance of being ‘bodyproud’.
I actually remember the day I first introduced myself to an eating disorder… I was 13 years old and had just engulfed 10 chocolate chip cookies after experiencing yet another tough day at school. I was eating my emotions… somehow, the act of indulging in my favourite treat felt comforting to me. But that sense of comfort ended quickly and was replaced by a feeling of regret. I was ashamed of myself for eating those cookies and felt utterly disgusted. That’s when I ran to the bathroom and proceeded to force myself to purge. I hated the feeling of purging but loved the feeling of relief I got afterwards. The entire experience filled me with shame and never spoke about it to anyone. That was the day I began my battle with eating disorders; fighting with my body became a daily ritual.
The years that followed were filled with self-hate and low self-esteem. I didn’t like how I looked; quite frankly, I truly believed I was ugly, chubby, and unloveable. I would yo-yo between not eating much at all and binging and purging. It was awful. I never spoke about this with anyone because I felt embarrassed. I understood that what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t know how to stop. As long as I hated my body, I wanted to try to ‘fix’ it by controlling my eating. On top of my body image struggles, I was battling depression and anxiety and was on and off multiple prescriptions… some of which would actually cause me to gain weight which caused my eating disorder to worsen.
My obsession with being thin hit it’s lowest point when I was recruited to be model – I was 20 years old. At that point, I was thin but I still didn’t love my body. I began working as a model and actually started to feel good about myself. I would see my photos and think “Wow! I look beautiful!” But I’d still feel unpretty in person… it was a real mindf**k. I started to obsessively workout, spending 2 hours at the gym 6 days per week on a 1200 calorie diet. Needless to say, I got really thin… but that new body worked well for me in the modeling world. I felt as though I had achieved something amazing! I weighed a whopping ~25 lbs less than I do now… definitely not a healthy weight.
So how did I change? Well… I was triggered. It came down to me being scouted to model with a huge agency in Hong Kong. They sent my agent the contract to finalize details and within that contract, was a clause: “Model must lose 1 inch on hips prior to being signed with agency”. My agent even warned me about that clause as she knew that I was already extremely thin. She emailed me the contract and I couldn’t take my eyes off that clause… I actually felt anger. I was as thin as I could possibly be without being sick. My hips were literally skin and bone… to lose an inch would mean to shave the bone down. I was done. That was the moment that changed things for me… I was tired of being obsessed with my weight – it was exhausting! I just wanted to feel good about myself, but was completely lost on how I could do that.
I began by seeing a Naturopath so I could get off my concoction of antidepressants and other prescriptions. We then worked to begin to alter my diet, focusing more on real foods. I toned down my workouts and increased my calorie intake. This process of learning to love my body has been in the works since 2006 and is still ongoing. It is something I have dedicated myself to due to my desire to be ‘bodyproud’. When I embarked on my journey to self-love in 2012, things began to work a lot quicker in regards to my ‘bodyproud’ initiative. By loving myself on the inside, I began to love myself on the outside – without even thinking about it! That’s the beauty of self-love… when you focus on loving yourself for all that you are, everything else just falls into place.
Has this healing process been difficult? Yes. But as we all know, there are very few things in life that come easy (if any). The biggest change for me has been this…
I don’t focus on being thin.
I focus on being healthy.
I don’t focus on what I hate about myself.
I focus on what I love about myself.
By switching my focus, I’ve learned to eat better foods – foods that actually nourish my body and not deplete it (real foods vs processed), and I’ve learned to maintain a fitness regime to keep my body feeling healthy and strong. I now strive for muscle and tone vs losing weight. I actually refrain from stepping on scales because I’ve learned that scales are extremely deceiving (FACT: Muscle weighs MORE than fat!). I’ve learned to love myself – mind, body and soul. I no longer beat myself when trying on clothes, and I no longer obsess over my weight. I can now enjoy meals, and enjoy moments without having my mind obsess over my negative body image thoughts. I honor my curves, I honor my thighs, and I honor all other parts of me that I once hated.
I’m finally happy with my body, proud of my body, and feel healthier than I’ve ever felt before! Yes, I still have those days (this morning was one of them) where I feel ugly, fat, hate my cellulite, etc… but now, I know better. I know that this voice is just my ego speaking and not reality. One of my favourite things to say to myself is “I have cellulite. But I am not my cellulite.”
Do not let your body define who you are. Your soul is what defines who you are and your body is simply a vessel for your soul. Love your soul and take care of your body so that you have a healthy vessel to house your heart. Being ‘bodyproud’ changed my life for the better, and I know it can change yours too. Stop focusing on all the things you hate about your body and instead, focus on all the things you love. Take care of this magical vessel you have been gifted with, and it will take care of you in return.