I’m sure my story is one that many women can relate to
I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror
I was ashamed of my ‘thick thighs’, ‘broad shoulders’ and ‘cellulite’.
These aspects of my aesthetic were frowned upon in western society.
Women are meant to be tall, slender and smooth.
The first time I realised something was wrong with my body,
I was at rowing training standing in front of the locker room mirror.
I was 12, and my best friend was standing next to me.
She was smaller than I was and had narrower shoulders and skinny thighs.
She had no dimples.
But I did....
I remember not really understanding why she looked different or why I was ashamed in that moment.
But I was.
I felt embarrassed about my body.
I knew my body wasn’t what it should be.
That the features I possessed were not beautiful.
My self-confidence took a dive, a punch to the gut and it was the beginning of a new era in my life.
An era of obsession, anger and frustration at myself.
I know you’ve felt this before too, because 92% of women hate their body.
I can tell you now, if you saw a photo of me, when I was 12, you’d want to hit me, slap some sense into me.
I had hit puberty a year before, and developed hips, was muscular from sport.
I was by no means overweight or unhealthy.
But beauty in Western cultures was dominated by heroin chic
The basic premise was, models who do heroin were much skinnier than models that don't, so they were hired more.
This perpetuated the belief that skinnier was better even at the risk of being a drug addict, or starvation.
Not that I realised it at the time, but this pitiful look was what I aspired to for years.
The idea of this trend makes me quite angry, now that I realise how detrimental it was.
How can you take the human body, make it as weak and malnourished as possible and then make that "look" popular?
Heroin chic did it's job.
It took me until I was 21 to stop purging
To like myself enough to stop being bulimic.
To discover that health makes you much happier than chasing skinny.
I love sport, so when I started weightlifting and functional fitness I loved how the workouts felt.
I discovered a passion for weightlifting and rediscovered my gymnastics roots.
I was getting fitter, stronger and healthier every day.
I learnt about nutrition and how to move properly, good technique and efficiency.
I competed and was with a group of like-minded people who boosted my self-confidence.
They celebrated my fitness achievements as I did theirs.
Functional fitness and weightlifting helped me to redefine how I felt about my body
I learnt to love it for the first time.
I was happy.
Then the comments from people started...
“oh, you’re lifting weights? Don’t get too bulky!” “God, look at your arms, there so… big!” “Ellie, your legs are out of control”…
It never ceases to amaze me how people think they have the right to comment on, not just mine but, anyone’s body like this.
You’ve felt the pinch too – everybody has something to say, commenting on our bodies is common enough.
There are positive comments too.
But some seem to struggle when facing athletic women.
Is it because we have more muscle than people are used to and it conflicts with their version of beautiful?
Is it because I’m not heroin chic and it's hard to believe that someone would want to move so far away from that idealised look?
I could let these things bring me down,
I am healthy
My body is capable of amazing feats
I am strong
I feel great
And I love training
At the end of the day eating well, training hard and seeing results makes me one thousand times happier than throwing up and constantly scrambling to look a certain way.
My body and my health are way too important to me for that
And I know your body and health are too.
I am forever grateful for training, the community and the values it has taught me over the years.
It's the value of living life to the fullest and feeling beautiful in your own skin.
And I’m not passing it up for anyone.
We all have a story, a struggle that we perhaps still haven't overcome.