My body is my home - Molly's story
For Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Molly shares her experience of recovering from an eating disorder. In a world that is obsessed with diet culture and unattainable beauty standards, Molly explores the importance of self-love, body positivity and the freedoms that recovery can bring.
Weight gain is often demonised by the media, but it’s necessary for your body to support you and to work properly. It’s healthy to gain weight well into adulthood and for your weight to constantly change throughout your life. Bodies are meant to change! During my recovery, I was fixated on reaching a weight that was ‘healthy’ according to a BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator, and then calling it a day. This wasn’t accurate at all - my healthy weight won’t be the same as someone else’s. I had to let my body find its own happy place, where it wasn’t enduring any physical or mental restriction. Sometimes, this includes accepting that your body isn’t what the media glamourises, and that’s more than okay.
It’s easy to say that beauty comes from within, however, do we really believe and internalise this? How often do unattainable beauty expectations bully us into dissatisfaction with ourselves? We can spend our whole lives chasing perfection, but whilst we’re chasing it, we are also running further and further away from self-love and acceptance. Beauty doesn’t have an outwards look.
Your perfect body is how you look when you’re free.
Despite my eating disorder not being a direct result of the media, it certainly normalised my disordered eating habits. The trend of ‘what I eat in a day’ would often depict people eating small, unrealistic amounts of food. I’d sometimes forget that what we see on social media is what other people want us to see, which isn’t always truthful. I’d forget the power of photoshopping; that people have complete autonomy over what they show online.
I’d constantly be comparing myself negatively to others and feeding into that spiral of low self-worth. In reality, no matter what my weight was, I never felt ‘enough’ in my appearance, which proves that my body has never been the problem. In the early stages of my recovery, I deleted apps which didn’t enhance my self-esteem and then redownloaded them when I knew I was strong enough.
Beauty is your happy, unsuppressed body and self, when you can wake up and eat what you want without guilt and accept yourself for your flaws. Prior to my eating disorder, I struggled with perfectionism, especially in academia, even though no one put any pressure on me. My biggest enemy was my own inner critic. In my recovery, I had to learn to accept myself unconditionally, regardless of mistakes, my grades or my appearance.
Look after your body, hug the people who make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, eat good food, laugh.
Ironically, when I was unwell, I was terrified of being healthy. But now that I’m healthy, I’m terrified of being unhealthy. Before my recovery, I was sure I’d never be able to accept myself where I am now. I was sure I’d never leave my room. But in fact, I’ve gone more places than I could’ve ever imagined. Yes, food is fuel, however, it is so much more than that. It unites us and allows us to socialise more. It’s fun and can be for enjoyment. So, eat what makes you happy. I promise that your body being in a place where you can enjoy life, will always be more beautiful.
I started to practice seeing my insecurities as things that I needed to mentally accept, rather than physically change. What did I need to reframe in my mind? I needed to stop letting my insecurity govern what I wore, ate and everything else.
My biggest enemy was my own inner critic.
One thing I’ve learnt in my recovery, is that life is uncertain and messy, but in equal value, if not more, life is beautiful. Hard times don’t last and the flood always subsides. It’s okay to relax, breathe and cope with emotions, instead of chasing productivity. Self-care is productive. It’s okay not to be able to love yourself fully yet. But there’s nothing more beautiful than being able to look in the mirror and say to yourself: “I accept you for you”.
Look after your body, hug the people who make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, eat good food, laugh, feel emotions, cry, dance, and most of all, live. Your body isn’t and has never been the problem. Your perfect body is how you look when you’re free. Free from unrealistic expectations, free from restriction, and free from things that keep you caged up.
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