Eating Disorders

YOU ARE ENOUGH

97% of women struggle with body image issues. We all have those days where we don't like what we look like or how something fits but unfortunately its the norm in this day and age and its growing at a rapid rate.

If you are struggling, please take the time to read this passage from Airlie, it may help you in a way you never thought.

And always remember... you are BEAUTIFUL!

My name is Airlie, I'm a 26-year-old Social Media & Marketing Manager from Adelaide. If you are wondering why I have introduced myself with my age, job title and where I am from it's because I want you to familiarise yourselves with me. I'm your usual Aussie chick, working in a 9-5 job and trying to grasp life as much as humanly possible.. what most people don't know is that I almost let an eating disorder take over. I have an opportunity to share my personal struggle (read here) with you in the hope to help young women understand it is temporary and you can push through it. I'd like to thank you for reading thus far and to invite you to read on... 

I want to talk about a somewhat broad subject - body image. Having struggled with a negative perception of myself for many years, I can understand and appreciate what you may be feeling.  

In Australia, body image has been identified as one of the TOP THREE concerns for young people growing up. Negative body image has also been found to be a precursor to eating disorders, with 15-19-year-olds among those at the highest at risk. 

Body image is ultimately the perception that a person has of their physical self and the feelings that result from that perception. 

When you look in the mirror, are you unhappy with what you see?

Do you spend a lot of time picking, poking and prodding at yourself to find flaws and bits you're unhappy with?

Do you often find yourself saying negative things about yourself to your friends in a joking manner?

Do you find yourself thinking a lot about these aspects of yourself that you don't like? 

While it's healthy to want to grow and to better ourselves, there is a fine line before it becomes unhealthy.  

There are four aspects of body image:

  1. How you see your body is your perceptual body image. This is not always a correct representation of how you actually look. 
  2. The way that you feel about your body is your effective body image. This relates to the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you feel about your shape, weight and individual body parts. 

  3. The way you think about your body is your cognitive body image. This can lead to a preoccupation with body shape and weight. For example, some people believe that they will feel better about themselves if they are thinner or more muscular. 

  4. Behaviours in which you engage as a result of your body image encompasses your behavioural body image. When a person is dissatisfied with the way they look, they may isolate themselves because they feel bad about their appearance or employ destructive behaviours (e.g. excessive exercising, disordered eating, etc.) as a means to change appearance.

These days there are SO many different definitions of what is considered the 'perfect' body type. Curves, full lips, hips, and boobs? Or long legs, perfectly arched eyebrows, and a flat stomach? Or maybe it's strong arms, abs, and muscles? Gone are the days of one body type being constantly flattered and promoted. These days girls can compare themselves to anyone from the Victoria'sSecret catwalk to the curvy Kim Kardashian. And while on the surface that may be a good thing, it only makes it harder for the younger generation to feel 'right'. 

Young adults are constantly being bombarded with images on social media. According to data from the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University, as little as half an hour a day spent on Instagram can make women fixate negatively on their weight and appearance.

If you are finding yourself thinking about small issues with your body like I did in the beginning, I want you all to do what I do now. When you stand in the mirror to pick at your flaws, consciously change your thought process. Instead of finding bits that you don't like about yourself, stand there and very honestly find things that you DO love. Tell yourself OUT LOUD. It may be hard in the beginning because sadly we are conditioned to believe that we aren't worth saying positive things about ourselves. Just do it. Tell yourself you love your boobs. Or your nose. Or your ANKLES! Just do it, and slowly you will find that you can't find anything negative about your body at all. It was such a slow process and it requires a strong mental attitude and awareness, but it is beyond worth it in the end. Promoting positive body image is vital in preventing ongoing negative and harmful issues such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety. It occurs when a person is able to accept, appreciate and respect their body. It means that you are aware of who you are and you wholeheartedly accept yourself. In fact, promotion of positive body image and building self-esteem is one of the most effective ways to combat eating disorders among young adults. 

Life is long and it's going to be horrible if you spend every day wishing you were someone else. I've wasted a lot of time being unhappy. All of that time that I will never get back, and it was for something so tiny and insignificant. So let's end this negative cycle that our generation is in! Be open about your love for yourself and watch the ongoing positive effect that it has on others. 

Tips for reducing negative body image include:

- Say positive things to yourself each day. 
- Focus on your positive qualities, skills and talents that can help you appreciate and accept your whole self. 
- Avoid talking negatively about yourself and berating yourself. 
- Set positive, health-focused goals rather than weight loss ones.

If you are a parent/guardian:

- Don't talk about diets. Dieting is the biggest risk factor for an eating disorder
- Talk to your child about the way that they feel that they look. 
- Only speak positively about yourself. 

We hope this story has fuelled you to treat yourself better and to understand that you are truly one of a kind.

If you have any questions for Airlie about her journey or you are wanting a little helping hand through your journey, our email is at the bottom of the page.

YOU ARE ENOUGH! Don't forget it babe!