CW: DISORDERED EATING.
Ever since I can remember I wanted to be thinner.
I always assumed that it is just the way it is supposed to be- I am a woman, I should be sorry for eating- I should apologize for my body- I should want thinner thighs. Then, at the age of 19 I was scouted and became a model. I was asked to lose a lot of weight- and suddenly all my negative thoughts about my body were validated. It was not just too big- it was also a barrier to my career.
With a lot of effort I lost about 20 kgs. Suddenly I was living in Paris and then NY doing big editorials and campaigns- I was living my dreams. But there was a problem: I was not happy. I could not stop obsessing about food, all I could think about was exercise and diet. Eventually I realized I was not a free person anymore- I was a slave of my diet routine, and it was hurting me a lot. I was a total mess but at the same time looking from the outside I was looking pretty ok: I was working a lot, I was making money and many people thought I looked really beautiful (even though I was clearly too skinny for my body type). Many people would ask for dieting advice from me as I was all about health, organic food and working out. But in my intimacy I was slowly (actually, quickly) killing myself with disordered eating and extreme exercise. I felt like a big fraud.
Eventually I had an epiphany that I had to be free from this. I had to reclaim my body. It was a long and arduous fight to recover but every tear and fear was totally worth it and I was lucky enough to have the support of amazing people and now I can proudly say: I am a healthy person; I learned to love myself again. Or even better: I unlearned to hate myself. I am basically living the nightmare of my my previous self, as so it happens my recovered body is a size 12 at this moment. If someone told me I would be even a size 6 about 2 years ago I would have completely freaked out. It is so ironic how amazing my life became at the same time the "worse" thing happened.
I am not happier because I like the way my body looks or because I am a successful model or a good student or whatever: for the first time in my life these things are not my primary source of happiness anymore. That was the big change: TRULY understanding that my value as a human being goes beyond a beautiful body, money, success, reputation or whatever. My (and also your) value is in my compassion, my love, my peace and my beautiful brilliant mind that has so much to give to this world. I learned that I did not have to impress anyone- I am (again, as much as you) impressive by definition. I am not saying that my life is perfect now, that I never feel insecure or that I don't wish for things anymore. But for the first time in my life I actually understand what it means to own my body- to own my life. It feels deliciously awesome... It changed everything.
I have two messages for you. first, as cliche as it sounds: looks are deceiving. Most of my successful beautiful model friends struggle with self esteem and disordered eating. Of course not all models are like that- but I guarantee you- people do not get happy by looking a certain way or having a certain career. Take my word. Good looking people can be happy- but they are definitely not happy because they look good (I know it sounds obvious but... ah, if only everyone actually understood this).
Also, I want to tell you that trying to change our bodies in a mindset that looks at it as an enemy or something wrong is like chasing a rainbow: failure guaranteed! It doesn't matter how much you change it, how many kgs you lose, how fit you get, how many surgeries you get or whatever it is- you will always want more. I was pretty close to the "golden pot"/ the "ideal body" and honestly- close enough to understand that it doesn't exist.
I could not find anything. I felt empty- There was nothing to fulfil my soul there. So please, Do not chase it. Drop this fight against your body- become its ally- it's best friend- work with it- understand it and most importantly, respect it! Chase your actual health and wellbeing. Not to look a certain way- but to feel a certain way. You will only be happy with your ideal body if you are able to be happy with your body right now. Let's claim our bodies back! You are free, you are powerful, you are brilliant, you are important, you are perfect, complete... right at this very moment. Enjoy your food, enjoy your life unapologetically.
Ah, and in response to Kate Moss: Nothing tastes as good as freedom feels.