Listen or read below.
Body image - it’s a sensitive subject…
What even is body image?
Is it the way you perceive your own body?
Is it the way other people perceive your body?
Is it the way you feel about your body?
Or is it all of these things?
Well, body image to me is my relationship with my body. What I mean by relationship is how do I see and feel about my body.
We more often than not aspire to the bodies that we see on billboards and Instagram. Unfortunately, in many cases, we will do anything and everything to achieve the perfect body - but I will put my life on one fact - ask someone what is the perfect body and they won't be able to answer you without pointing to a picture of someone else.
This is not about anyone else, this is about you.
I want to share a story about my relationship with my body.
As a kid, I was very comfortable - actually, I look back at some pictures and I think I was slightly too comfortable!
But, when I started school, things changed.
I was bullied, a lot. I don't recall a day without being called fat.
In secondary school, my PE teacher told me to run for the doughnuts before they ran out after a cricket game.
It made me feel uncomfortable, useless, disgusting, unworthy and it shattered my confidence.
Yes, I was big, chubby and looked like a teddy bear - but, I was athletic, a true sportsman. I played rugby, cricket, football and swimming.
In year 9, I made a big decision. I decided to lose weight on a quest to find comfort with my body.
I thought that by losing weight, I would feel more comfortable.
Losing weight had turned into something that I craved. It was like a drug. The more uncomfortable I felt, the more weight I wanted to lose. I lost 2.5-3 stone in 3 months, but my name ‘fat Jack’ lived on.
It was a vicious cycle that nearly put me on my deathbed. This cycle continued for 2 years, until I was so weak that I couldn't walk to school or make it past 6pm in the evening.
I would stand in front of a mirror and scratch my stomach until it was raw. At 15, I was in a hospital room with a machine beeping, flashing red and asking the nurse if I'm going to die - reality hit me.
The next 6-7 years of my life were spent recovering. But recovering from what exactly? Anorexia.
My relationship with food, exercise, body and mind had been destroyed. I felt like a baby learning how to walk again.
I've learnt a lot from my recovery, especially because it's had to come from within. I didn't look at my body for 1.5-2 years when I was recovering. I would put towels up on the mirrors around my house so I wouldn't see my body and I wouldn't dare to look down in the shower. I was scared of what I would see and moreover, how I would feel when I did see it.
I was never a big fan of family therapy, but for the time I was in and out of hospital, I did, unwillingly, attend.
However, one thing that has always stuck with me is when my therapist asked me to write a list of things that I liked about myself.
I came back with one item. My legs. She said, what about your personality? I completely forgot about that...
It's about perspective. Your body is yours. Train it, be proud of it, treat it with respect and most importantly, OWN IT.
Your body does not define you, it's just a shell that allows you to present your unique personality to the world.