“I was at school in the 1980s during the ‘supermodel’ era when thinness was prized and fat-shaming was rife. My everyday life as a young teenager was filled with images of frighteningly thin females. I remember in the 90s Kate Moss saying ‘Nothing tastes better than skinny feels’ – clearly a statement steeped in anorexia, but sadly, many young women at the time accepted it as normal.

“I started deliberately starving myself when I was 17 and twelve years of anorexia and bulimia followed. I am 50 now and thankfully recovered, although I still have days where I ‘feel fat’ or find myself counting calories.”

Anorexia is the leading cause of mental health deaths

“Anorexia and bulimia are complex psychological disorders often rooted in issues around control and low self-esteem. The pressure from society around body image is certainly not the only thing going on, but it is a significant trigger and obstacle to recovery

“Society has come a long way since the 80s in terms of understanding body dysmorphia and eating disorders, but social media and advertising in general continue to promote unreasonably thin and picture-perfect bodies. These images are telling impressionable young minds that this is how we are supposed to look.”

Up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population.

“Stigma is also a problem. Weight shaming and fatphobia are still rife today. Sometimes it occurs seemingly innocently, people telling others they should lose weight because it’s unhealthy, or go to the gym because it is healthy. Truth is, we don’t know what is going on for that person, what their physical or mental health situation is.

“The idea behind body neutrality really helped me in my recovery. Body neutrality (rather than body positivity or body beautiful) promotes the acceptance of your body as it is, encouraging us to recognise our bodies’ abilities and nonphysical characteristics over our appearance.

“Adopting a neutral attitude towards our bodies means moving away from the idea that we have to learn to ‘love’ our bodies (although it’s also fine if you do 😊). Instead, we can focus on what we do with our bodies and how we think and feel. There is so much more to our value and worth than the way we look.

Cases of anorexia and bulimia have soared during lockdown.

“A few useful body neutral tips and affirmations.

  1. I accept my body as it is, I do not have to ‘love’ it.
  2. Every day write down one positive thing that is valuable about you which is not related to the way you look.
  3. Feeling ‘confident’ in a bikini is not a reasonable goal.
  4. My body deserves respect.
  5. ‘Wellness’ is not about appearance.
  6. I want to take care of my body.
  7. Recognise negative self-talk. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else.
  8. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. Forgive, don’t punish.
  9. Become a critical viewer of social media and advertising messages.
  10. Meditate regularly or practice yoga or mindfulness”

– Annie (Barod Worker)

For more hints, tips and honest testimonies relating to promoting positive body image, health and happiness, follow our ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ Campaign on social media by searching #DontSweat.