From the time I hit puberty until now, my body image has changed a lot.
I hit puberty at a young age and didn’t really get what it was all about. It was all so foreign to me. The extent of my talks with Mum was boobs, bras and periods, which I did not want to talk to her about at the time anyway! I would usually read Dolly and Girlfriend magazines to find out what I felt I needed to know.
I remember when I started growing boobs and armpit hairs in primary school my teachers suggested I get a bra and buy deodorant. Oh the shame! Going through puberty in primary school I felt embarrassed and clueless. I was just glad I had a couple of close girlfriends I could talk to.
I didn’t realise I had poor body image by the time I reached high-school but I remember reading an old journal entry that talked about having to exercise and restrict my eating to stay thin. I had a sister who was quite curvy and was fat-shamed by our brother and father. This may have stuck and made me think thin was beautiful.
I remember looking at pictures of myself at about age 14 and being shocked at how tiny I was. I definitely did not realise that at the time!
When I was 16 I had a mental breakdown and went to hospital and was put on medication. I’d always been quite small and this particular medication made me gain weight rapidly. I was hungry all the time and constantly eating. I remember hopping on the scales and getting upset over how much weight I had put on.
I went off my medication without telling the doctor because I didn’t want to put on any more weight. I got sick again. Eventually the doctor found a medication I was happy with.
After high-school I took a year off and lived with my parents. I was unemployed and looking for work. I was depressed and turned to food for comfort. I stacked on the weight and tried all sorts of diets to bring the weight back down. I wasn't happy with where my life was at that point and my eating reflected this.
Throughout adulthood my weight has fluctuated considerably. I’ve joined gyms, dieted, lost all the weight - then gained it all back - and then done it all over again! Now the weight is starting to creep back on. But at this point I am happy with where I am. I am sick of all the diets, the constant battle of weighing myself in the morning and being dissatisfied, the constant voice in my head telling me I shouldn’t eat this or that and looking in the mirror, being disappointed because I don’t look how I did three years ago.
But you know what? I’ve realised what crap that all is! I am enough and I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m not… not even that voice in my head. I’m not going to feel guilty any more. I’m going to be happy with my appearance and thank my body for all it has done for me. I’ve recently chucked out my scales and I couldn’t be happier.
The next time you step on the scales consider this question - “Do the scales define who you are as a person?”
You are more than what you look like.
by Sheena Shewell
photography by Kandice Orford