Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined getting my gear off in front of 30 strangers – but that’s exactly what I did at this month’s Positively Glittered event in Melbourne.
From the moment I started high school, I began to feel uncomfortable in my body. It had never been a topic of conversation. This was until the boys in my grade realised body shaming me got the reaction they were after. Up until then, I had always slipped under the radar. I was just a tall, lanky kid that no one really noticed; this was until I hit puberty.
With this change came all my womanly curves and a new nickname ‘Thunder Thighs’. Each time I had the unfortunate experience of being in the presence of these douchebags (which was most of the time – my high school was tiny!), I was subjected to their unpleasant rendition of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck‘.
It was this harmful behaviour, along with the media’s representation of women, that contributed to my poor body image. This was ultimately the foundation of my beliefs about body, food and exercise that continued with me well into adulthood.
As I got older (and the dropkicks slowly started leaving school), the bullying subsided. But it was too late. I felt uncomfortable in my body and was always finding ways I could change it. Exercise became all about calorie burning and weight loss. My days would involve restriction of certain foods and occasionally I even skipped meals. This cycle of restriction contributed to disordered eating habits, specifically regular episodes of binge eating.
As what generally happens when one eats excessive amounts of food, I gained a little weight. I was also experiencing episodes of depression, so was withdrawing from physical activity. With the bingeing and the weight gain, came lots of guilt and shame.
I kept telling myself things would be better if I lost weight. Boys would be interested in me, I’d have more friends and be more confident. I honestly thought I’d be happier if I was thinner.
Last year I stood on the scales in the doctor’s office. I looked down at my feet and my heart sank, I was the heaviest I had ever been. To me, it felt like the world was ending. I was in the middle of a severe depressive episode. And this was just the icing on the cake of low self-worth.
In my usual fashion, I went home, stuffed my face with food and then researched the latest fad diet. Just as I was about to fork out hundreds of dollars on unfulfilling, vomit-inducing shakes, I remembered the details of a dietician that my psychologist had given me a few months prior.
Once I started seeing her and received a diagnosis of binge eating disorder, my relationships with food, body and exercise started to change.
Knowing that I was not alone in my struggles with binge-eating really helped me. I had held this secret for 12 years and it was such a relief to let it out in the open. I began to see why I engaged in disordered eating and how it was completely justified based on my past experiences.
Slowly, I was able to release the shame and the guilt. I started to own my story and share it with the world, I wanted others to know they weren’t alone in their struggles and that help was available. I started immersing myself in the body positive movement, diversifying my social media feeds with all different body types.
I learned the truth about diet culture and was able to release the ‘fatphobia’ that society had taught me.
After months in group therapy, I was feeling at home in my body. The size of my clothes no longer bothered me – we all know how messed up the sizing is anyway. This new found acceptance made shopping much less stressful. My exercise is now focused on making me feel good, rather than the best ways to burn calories.
When the opportunity to take part in the Positively Glittered event popped up on my feed, I don’t think I even hesitated. I’d seen women like me participate in past events and felt confident that I could do it too.
Initially, my reason for participating was to show women that it’s okay to be in a larger body and it’s certainly okay to love yourself in a larger body.
What I didn’t realise though, was the impact it would have on me and how much closer it would bring me to my own body.
The shoot not only brought me closer to my body, but it gave me a chance to reconnect and apologise for the years of self-doubt, neglect and hatred I had inflicted on her.
My body is a work of art. Every inch of her tells the story of my life. My body is no longer defined by the number I weigh, or the food I eat, or the way I exercise. My body is a beautiful shell that has kept me safe during times of trauma and comforted me during times of pain. My body has held me up when all I wanted to do was to break down. My body is my oldest friend. She has been with me every step of the way through this journey called life.
Posing nude, head to toe in glitter, was my way of celebrating my body and showing gratitude for everything she has done for me. It was not only an empowering and liberating experience for me on a personal level, but it made me realise just how diverse our bodies are underneath our clothes.
We were not made to all look the same.
Being naked and covered in glitter with complete strangers was honestly the most comfortable I had ever felt in my body. There was no judgement, just lots of love, laughs and positive glitter vibes flowing.
This was the first time in my life that I felt true peace. Surrounded by other beautiful women, each of us there for different reasons but brought together with the goal of creating a more body positive world.
If you are interested in taking part in the next Positively Glittered event or just want to see photos of a bunch of women who love their bodies – check out their Instagram page here.
Photo credit: Nocturne Images