A former anorexic has turned her life around after gaining three stone to become a plus size underwear model.
Alice Jackson suffered from the eating disorder during her first year of university in 2006.
Jackson’s obsession with her weight became so severe she would run for two hours a night whilst surviving on just a handful of lettuce leaves.
As a result, the 5ft 9ins retail student’s weight plunged from 9st 11lbs to 7st 10lbs in just three months – placing her four stone below the recommended healthy weight for her height.
The 26-year-old’s dress size also dropped from size eight to a size six.
Jackson was finally referred to a hospital where it was confirmed she was suffering from anorexia.
She spent a year of counselling with the Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association (SWEDA), and eventually began to get back to a healthy weight.
Five years on, Jackson now weighs 11 stone and has been chosen as a finalist for fuller figure lingerie firm Curvy Kate’s annual ‘Star in a Bra’ competition.
Jackson, who now has a 30FF bust, said: “It started when I was in my first year of university when I was 18.
“I started to put on a lot of weight and wasn’t confident so I went home at Christmas and decided to go on a diet.
“It spiralled into cutting down my food and over exercising and before I knew it I was eating very little.
“I was controlled by not eating so my weight went down pretty rapidly.
“When I got to June (2006) and I was doing Race for Life, my parents were like ‘you’re too thin, you need to see someone’.
“I didn’t feel well, I felt really ill and had no energy because I was eating so little and starving myself and over exercising so running on empty.
“That was a really difficult summer. It’s a horrible thing to be trapped in your thoughts about food and weight.
“I felt really depressed and I didn’t care if I did, I just felt awful, all I could think about was food and calories.
“I went to my doctor at university and she said I was underweight. She referred me to hospital so they could take all my details.
“I went to SWEDA and got counselling which was amazing. They said to me I was only going to start feeling better when I started eating again.
“I started to feel better and eat more normally in my second year of university. By the end I had got to a healthy weight. I was still slim but I wasn’t controlled by calories.”
Jackson added: “My weight has gone up gradually but I’ve been at 11 stones for a good year-and-a-half.
“I feel happy with myself, my body feels like it’s at its natural shape. When I was anorexic I used to lie in bed and could feel all my bones.
“It was just a really horrible time to be so trapped, I thought I would never get better. It’s so nice to be able to eat again and to be able to have things because I was so strict with myself before.
“I am confident in my body and being healthy and I think it’s really important women don’t keep feeling dissatisfied with themselves because people tell them to lose half a pound.
“I’m happy to be curvy and I’m proud to be curvy and I think that’s important.”
Jackson, whose friends entered her into the Curvy Kate modelling contest, has made the finals and is now up against 30 other curvy models competing in an online vote to sport next year’s range of underwear.
The results will be announced later this year.