Blog Post

What Really Happens When…You Stop Hating Your body

As a child there were many influences that triggered my depression and Body Dysphoria. I dealt with bullying in my home and at school; my parents, my peers, even my best friend filled my head with thoughts like, “No one will ever truly like you or respect you until you lose weight”, then of course toxic media that manipulates your self-perception and self-esteem to then make a profit off it.  I spent most of my childhood and adolescence feeling as though I was not worthy to appear in public, that people became sick at the sight of me. No exaggeration, I would literally apologize to people for having to look at me. What WAS an exaggeration was what I saw in my reflection.  I always saw myself as though I was consistently looking in gag mirrors; 5 times larger, my nose took up half my face, my skin color and scars and fat were all offensive to my eyes and, I believed, to everyone else.
In college I secretly started taking diet pills and tried to eat as little as I could, and worked out in dangerous amounts. This all made the depression worse; I hallucinated, I couldn’t get out of bed, I would break down all the time. It came to the point where I had an emotional breakdown in a meeting with my professors and one of them asked me to meet her in private in her office; this is where I would have a conversation that would change my entire life.
In this office I would hear this sentence for the first time, “Annie, I don’t think you see yourself clearly.”  She asked me, “Can you even look yourself in the eye and tell yourself that you are worth it?”  My eyes began to water and I shook my head.  She took out a hand mirror from her desk and told me to tell myself I was worth it, I tried to look at myself but I burst into tears, “I can’t!”  But she wouldn’t let me leave the office until I did.  After a few minutes of crying, I tried again, “I’m worth it.” I broke down. “Again.”, she commanded. “I’m worth it!”
She told me that I needed to make an effort to put myself first, to not feel guilty about it, that I deserved it; I deserved to love myself.

tumblr_mznxad4a0B1smlim8o1_500Image: Arthlete

I finished that semester and decided to take time off from school and focus on recovery.  I went into self-therapy mode, which took a lot of discipline but I was determined to heal.  I distanced myself from toxic influences; family members, friends, my roommate, I unplugged my cable, I secluded myself, just work and home.  I practiced mirror work, inspired by my talk with my professor, when I thought a negative thought, I would replace it with a positive one.  I became the subject of photo shoots and pushed myself to do social activities that terrified me (such as the beach in a bikini).  Isolation was important in helping learn who I really was and to love that person, so I traveled by myself a little.
After a year of hard non-stop work, I finally reached a healthy, happy, and loving relationship with my body and myself.  I felt so inspired; positive body image became a hot topic of mine on my personal blog and I posed for pictures and told my story.  After I realised I was regularly asked for advice, I created Stop Hating Your Body; a blog that promotes body positivity and positive self-esteem, currently over 56,000 people follow the blog and I’m very proud of all of them because no matter where they are on their journey, they’ve got that spark, that idea, to start putting an effort towards body peace.
Every day is not perfect; I still get episodes from time to time where I see something that isn’t there, but for the most part I love my body, I feel happy with myself, because ultimately my body is just a part of me, not ALL of me and I love myself entirely.
annie3150Annie is the creator of the Stop Hating Your Body blog, a performer, activist and novice photographer and you can follow her on Twitter: @annieelainey