This post is inspired by Buzzfeed’s Body Positivity Week; more specifically, this post by Dan Dalton.

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I’m out shopping with my parents because they’ve booked a summer holiday. We’re in Primark. I’m 10, the youngest in my class. I’m excited for summer because it means a break away from school and I’m dreading starting secondary school in September. We’re trawling through the aisles of the shop and I become conscious of it for the first time because we walk straight past the children’s section and into the women’s section. Mum frames it as ‘well you’re all grown up now! So now you can wear proper clothes like mummy’ with her sweet smile. Later, at home, dad retorts ‘she’s bloody obese, she needs to diet. She’s so fat!’ I drag myself up the stairs into my room and cry.


‘Can we keep it a secret?’ I’m 12 now and I have a boyfriend. It’s silly really. We sat next to each other in Maths and we discovered we had a lot in common. Whatever it is, I feel butterflies for the first time because someone likes me back. I agree to keeping it a secret and we sneak off here and there after school for a hug and a kiss. We spend all our time talking to each other. One day, all hell breaks loose and everyone in class finds out. He tries denying it until he’s red in the face. He simply says, ‘I’d have to be blind to go out with her, she’s a fat pig’.


My depression was diagnosed at 14. I was tormented every day at school and it took its toll on my mental health. I started going to the gym and slimmed down a dress size. I looked better. I felt better. But I was still called fat. So I exercised more. I was 15 when I picked up a knee injury but I knew I had to keep losing weight because otherwise, the bullying would never stop. So I restricted what I ate. I did my Drama GCSE and my best friend lashed out at one of the perpetrators, saying that I was a size 8 now and I was smaller than the girl who was bullying me. She said, ‘fine then…she’s an anorexic rat’.


I’ve started a new school for sixth form. It’s only across the road from my previous school, but it may as well be a million miles away. Everyone is so friendly. By now, I’m in the throes of anorexia. I’m deadly thin but whenever I catch my reflection and can bare to look at it before wanting to cry, I just see a beached whale. My thighs are huge. My tummy is still there, protruding as ever. The doctor diagnoses me with body dysmorphic disorder. I go shopping for a school skirt and the size 6 slips off my hips. I ask for a size 4 — a size zero — and the shop assistant looks mortified but politely informs me that I need to go to a specialist shop for that.


I’m excelling at school. I’ve just sat my AS Levels and I’ve told myself I’ll beat the anorexia. I’m not stressed out and I’m in a better place, mentally. So I start eating, with the support of my mum. Then, tragedy strikes and I get the refeeding syndrome, so they hospitalise me, threatening to section me if I don’t go ‘willingly’. They don’t let me walk. I’m put in a wheelchair so that I don’t use up any energy. My weight plummets to 5 stone. I look like I’m about to die. Sure enough, the doctors say that the anorexia has eaten away everything in my body and that I only have two weeks before my heart fails.


I’m not a quitter. Despite the death sentence, I make a full recovery. By the beginning of the next year, I reach a BMI of 18.5 and I’m officially discharged and cleared of anorexia. I start living life like the next teenager. There’s a glimmer of hope. I’m not at ease with this body that I call home just yet…but perhaps I will be.


Years pass. I go to university and graduate. I make some terrible choices in my love life. I go on holiday, out with friends and see a bit more of the world. Before I know it, it’s been five years since I recovered from anorexia and 13 since my dad called me fat. It’s all still very real. It happened to me. I know it did. I can’t ever erase that. But I’m past it now. I adorn my body with metal and ink, expressing myself outwardly. I’m no longer ashamed. I’m no longer at war with my body. The skin I wear is all I have in this life. Nothing else is guaranteed. I don’t know what will happen to me in the future, but I’m at one with my body. After all, it’s the only home I’ll ever know.


What is Anorexia?

A classmate from sixth form asked if I could write a brief piece about anorexia for a class she was teaching. I thought it would be useful to share here too.

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Anorexia is a toxic friend. At first, when it comes into your life, you think you’ve found the answer to your problems. The bullies at school will stop if you start losing weight quickly. You’ll be more attractive and people will like you more. People will talk to you as a person rather than walk away in disgust because you take up too much room. So when you let anorexia into your life, you think you’ve found a great way out, a great way to escape and solve all your problems.

But then things change. You realise that this illness, the anorexia that you thought was your friend, is now sucking the life out of you. You can’t stop losing weight. You feel guilty if even one bit of food passes your lips. You can’t stop counting calories and obsessing over how much you way. You lose all self-esteem and you become a shell of the person you once were. You’re fragile, you can’t think straight. You want to stop but you can’t. Anorexia has become toxic and it’s become an addiction. You know it’s wrong and you want to stop, but anorexia is too strong and you’re too weak. Soon enough you lose your muscles, you lose the ability to go out by yourself for fear of fainting, you’re cold even in the summer when it’s boiling outside. You can’t do what everyone else is. You can’t go out and have fun because you have become your anorexia.

Five years ago, I decided to make the decision to recover from anorexia. It had stolen two whole years of my life and I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice any more of my life for this illness. I got angry at the eating disorder. All my friends were having fun, partying and being usual teenagers. Me? I was spending summer in hospital. That anger fuelled something inside of me. I just thought one day, ‘I’m not doing this anymore’ and that was the spark that ignited my recovery. I started eating and didn’t look back. My main reason was that I wanted to go out with my friends, I wanted to realise my dream and go to university. And I simply couldn’t do that if I was still in the throes of anorexia. Like a toxic relationship, I cut anorexia out of my life. I’ve never looked back. Now, five years later, I have a degree, a job and I’m happy and healthy. There is life after an eating disorder. Never give up hope or believe that you can’t get through it because trust me, you can. When I was anorexic, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t think I could live an anorexia-free life. But it gets better and there is so much more to life than eating disorders.

Kate Moss made headlines for saying ’nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’. She may truly believe that, but it’s too much of a price to pay. You need food to fuel your lifestyle and just maintain your internal organs and brain. Food is the medicine that keeps everything inside our bodies functioning and working as it should. You know what feels better than being skinny? Being alive.