What 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, disgusting, 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 everything in between. In fact, my nickname at rugby was "the cube".
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. The more uncomfortable I felt the more weight I wanted to lose.
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 6 pm in the evening.
My relationship with food, exercise and my body had been destroyed. I felt like a baby learning how to walk again.
It's about perspective
I've learned a lot from my recovery, especially because it's had to come from within. I didn't look at my body for nearly 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 the hospital, I did, unwillingly, attend.
However, one thing that has always stuck with me is when the 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.