It takes some guts to talk about it publicly, as I'm sure many of you can sympathise with; usually I hide behind a confident, self-assured facade. The 'it' is Body Dysmorphia.
From as young as I can remember, I have had issues with my weight and body image. Age 11 and starting secondary school, my life told a totally different story from today. I was petite, with a rather boyish shape, straight up and down; no hips, no bust and no derrière. By year eight, most of my friends had started to develop hour glass silhouettes while I sat back in awe, begrudgingly still in crop tops and the 915 New Look girlswear range. What I would have given to be in a womanly SIZE SIX pair of jeans! I can still remember the embarrassment of having to take part in school swimming lessons. It was my lack of breasts that I found very disconcerting; at every available opportunity I moaned to my mum about not having any and begged her to buy me a gel bra for the school ball! The wishful thinking obviously worked because by the time I was 13, a pair of lady lumps blossomed out of nowhere; 34D and significantly larger than most girls I knew my age. I also triumphantly purchased my first size six item of clothing; granted it wasn't jeans but it was still size 6 - a basic white t-shirt from M&S. At this point in my life, I was almost comfortable in my own skin.
At 15, the battle with my increasing weight began. I was a bit of a tomboy and used to thoroughly enjoy spending my time outside, climbing trees and running away from mischief, or should I say towards it! This all changed when we moved house, further away from school and my friendship group. Missing out on social events, my level of exercise decreased and I found myself beginning to comfort eat to console the loneliness. It wasn't unusual for me to scoff an entire packet of Mcvities Chocolate Digestives upon my return from school, followed by an entire pizza for my tea and then maybe a sweet snack for dessert. I really understood what self-loathing felt like over the subsequent two years, reducing myself to tears whilst I stared in the mirror at my ever expanding waistline. I knew I wasn't the only one to notice it either. My clothes got bigger and baggier, anything to hide my shameful gut, and to this day, it is my stomach that I despise.
When I hit 17, I was in sixth form and gained my driving licence, a rite of passage in to adulthood. Feeling more self-conscious at having to wear my own hand-picked clothes everyday, rather than a generic uniform, being exposed to the 'ideal' and 'aspirational' female figure more frequently and discovering the freedom of being able to drive, I embarked on a strict low-calorie diet. Shrinking from a size 14 to a size 10 in 6 months, which I envy now, still didn't seem enough at the time and although I was happier, I lacked that washboard midriff. I sustained my weight until the dreaded Freshers' year; sugary alcoholic drinks and fatty fast food were in abundance and I took full advantage of both! Summer of first year arrived quickly and determined to shed the weight, I managed to lose 18lbs. After yo-yoing for three years, I surprisingly managed to keep the weight off until I graduated but with post university blues, it slowly started to creep back on and has continued to do so ever since. I have started Slimming World but it's a vicious circle; I comfort eat because I'm dissatisfied with my appearance!
Body Dysmorphia has extended to me disliking my fair skin, my nose and my teeth, but that's another story! For now, I must focus on looking forward with optimism in my sights, pinning my attention on my hopes, dreams and aspirations of becoming an established Fashion and Lifestyle Journalist. Apart from my family and friends, there's nothing I love more than to write!