It’s Love Your Body Week! 💙
This week is a Butterfly Foundation initiative and aims to raise awareness of body image concerns and to promote body confidence in all Australians by celebrating body diversity.
Our speaker Cassandra shares her story.
Did you always feel the way you do now about your body? If not, what helped you to accept your body?
When I was much younger I had very low self-esteem about my body. I was bullied about my weight from a very early age by my stepfather, and surrounded myself with peers who had a negative self-image, which effectively became my own way of viewing myself too. I developed an eating disorder in high school after years of obsessing about my looks and trying to conform to what everyone else wanted. In reality, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me but it’s hard to talk yourself out of that at the time.
When I was 21, I was hit by a car and was left very much sedentary for two months. When I made a full recovery, I was told to take up sports to rebuild and strengthen my muscles. I used to hate sports and exercise as a teenager as I pushed myself to do it for the wrong reasons.
However, it was in doing sport for healing my injuries that I slowly learned to appreciate my body not for how it looks, but for what it does for me. I still have my downer days, especially as my body has changed so much from my teens after my injury, but I’m at a place now where I genuinely feel confident within my own skin as I know exactly what it has been through – and I really appreciate it for still being there for me!
Do you have any tips for how to stop negative self-talk?
There is a lot of advice out there that promotes turning a negative thought into a positive one. You know, the whole “I hate myself” to “I love myself”. For me, personally, that didn’t work, and I’ll bet for some it doesn’t always work for them either to simply ”change your thoughts”.
So my tip for stopping negative self talk? Challenge it. Debate it. What is the evidence for this thought? What is the evidence against it? Who would actually agree or disagree?
Another really good point with challenging your thoughts is to see it from another perspective. For example, how would an anthropologist view this? A medical professional? How would your mother see this?
Another tip stop the negative talk! Ban language like “fat” or “ugly” in your own self talk with friends and see what happens.
What would you say to your younger self if you could go back in time?
I would tell her that despite what you do now, your body changes so much throughout your life. Your skin and hair will change and your shape will too with age and injury. You will change along with your lifestyle as you travel and fall in love, and you will change when you go through pregnancy and turn grey. What is now will soon pass and this is just superficial. No one will care what you look like now like in 50 years. No one even cares today. What they will remember, however, is how you made them feel.
Are there any Instagram accounts you follow that make you feel good about your body?
Yes, and, on that note, if you’re following an account that makes you feel bad about yourself: CONTROL, ALT, DELETE.
However, for some positivity: @bodyposipanda
If this story has brought up strong feelings for you, please contact the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline on 1800 33 4673.