THE BLOG
27/02/2015 05:52 GMT | Updated 27/04/2015 06:59 BST

Could Selfies Help You Overcome An Eating Disorder?

I was a slow burner when it came to the selfie phase. Not one to hop on any old band wagon, I pretty much brushed it off as symptomatic of our increasingly narcissistic culture.

For me, it seemed like just another way women are reduced to their looks. Almost like they were objectifying themselves. I laughed at the self-absorption of our generation, with their pouts and filters. Satisfied that I'd smugly risen above the masses.

But somewhere along the line I fully embraced it. And here's why.

As someone with a tumultuous relationship with their body/ face/ self, the idea of a selfie seemed absurd. I'd had anorexia growing up and had trouble seeing myself with clarity since. Through the depression that followed I'd somehow become detached from myself.

I finally decided to get help for my depression early last year. I resorted to anti-depressants, a choice I never thought I would make, but now would fully endorse. It felt like someone had plugged me into a power socket after running on 5% battery life.

I could actually see myself clearly and, for the first time in years, I almost liked what I saw.

Labour councillor, Karen Danczuk, has recently come under fire for her selfie obsession and revealed that for her they served a therapeutic purpose. They enabled her to get control back over her body following childhood sexual abuse by a family friend.

"I can have fun without being ashamed of myself. And that is why I take pictures and put them on Twitter - because I can. I'm now free to do whatever I want," she told The Sun.

And that really resonated with me. Having lived good chunks of my life through the lens of anorexia and depression, I'd become disconnected from myself. I couldn't look at my reflection in a mirror or in a photo without homing in on my perceived faults. And if I'm crudely honest, at times it made me feel physically repulsed.

When I started to get happier, my confidence rose exponentially. I started to embrace my 'flaws'; they were what made me me after all.

Following a break-up, I decided to chop my hair to a pixie cut (yes my life is basically a chick flick) because it was something I had always wanted to do. I'd finally stopped trying to be someone else.

Women's bodies have almost become public property over recent years. They're there to be scrutinised and analysed without consent.

Selfies can seem like just the lazy avocation of the self-absorbed, but what they do is put the camera - and therefore the control - back in the hands of women.

Iggy Azalea's recent departure from Twitter epitomises how much this pressure can effect even the most famous and beautiful. We've also recently seen Beyonce (ie. the most beautiful woman in the world) put under the microscope when her un-airbrushed self was leaked.

It's as if shouting "Look women! She's not perfect either!" is supposed to make us all throw our Maxfactor away with reckless abandon.

This idea that we need to be 'perfect' is really problematic for eating disorder sufferers. I found that I was constantly striving for this unattainable, and inherently dangerous target.

In reality, women (and men) are just little fragile humans thrown into the world, trying to deal with all the stuff life throws our way. How can we possibly maintain this level of infallibility while doing all this? We can't, because it doesn't actually exist.

Taking a selfie doesn't have to be deeply profound of course. For me it felt powerful to reclaim myself and capture it on camera. But if you just think the world needs to know how good you look today, that's cool too.

Luckily nowadays, I mostly see the world as my very own giant oyster. (An oyster that I'd eat without a second thought, if - you know - I liked oysters.) But obviously there are times I just want to curl up into the foetal position and live the remainder of my life sans human interaction.

Those times, as crazy as it might seem, the camera lens can give me the perspective I need.

It's not my place to tell others how to overcome their demons, but I'm happy to share how I overcame mine.

There are still times I blub down the phone to my friends/ family/ call centre workers about my life. (As in, I literally did this last night.) But I've come to realise no one's perfect, so let's just do the best we can.

This Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I'm just going to step back and remember how far I've come. And I implore other survivors to do the same.

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