I walked down the London street with its imposing white houses and traditional black wrought iron railings. With every step that I took, I could feel my heart beat speeding up. Maybe, it was the strong, milkless (too many calories!), cup of coffee that I had for breakfast, or it could have been because I knew, in my gut, that what I was about to do was wrong.
I rang the buzzer of the Harley Street clinic and, as I entered the waiting room and approached the receptionist’s desk, I suddenly felt incredibly young. When the doctor was finally able to see me, I will never forget the confusion on his face as I entered his imposing office. He couldn’t believe that this healthy looking, young girl was there for a liposuction consultation.
Looking back, this was my worst day. I just didn’t realise it at the time.
I was so far down a deep and dark rabbit hole that I honestly believed liposuction would be the answer to all of my problems. Even though the doctor knew I was lying when I told him my parents fully supported this crazy idea, he still marked my body in blue marker in all the places he’d make the incisions and suck the fat out of my body. I didn’t care about the scarring this might cause – all I knew was that I would be one step closer to looking like the images of “perfection” I had pinned on my wall. And then, maybe then, I could finally be happy.
As I left the cosmetic surgery clinic, I persuaded myself that it was the cold air hitting my face that caused the tears to roll down my cheeks. But really, it was the deep pain I was holding onto and the shame I felt at the wannabe science experiment my body looked like underneath my clothing. I couldn’t wait to get home to wash off the blue dashes defacing my body.
When I look back on that day, it is as though I am discussing a completely different girl to the one that now promotes body positivity. All I want to do is wrap up that girl in my arms and tell her that:
She is enough.
I would tell her that the way to get the body she wants is to start loving the body she has and to treat it with the care and respect it deserves. I want to tell her that when she treats her body with love and appreciation for all the amazing things it does for her, her body will respond in kind.
After struggling with body image issues, yo-yo dieting and bulimia, I finally realised that I couldn’t go on living that way and I began a healing and empowering journey of learning to love the girl in the mirror. And although considering having liposuction may seem extreme, so many young women suffer with similar body image issues and eating disorders. This has a huge knock-on effect on their confidence, their physical, mental and emotional health, the quality of their relationships and their life. Enough is enough.
To any woman out there who is struggling with an eating disorder or negative body image issues, I want to say accept yourself, just as you are right now. When you approach your body from a loving mindset you will begin to know intuitively what it really wants and needs.
If you listen carefully, your body will let you know what food it needs to thrive and find balance. The most important relationship you will ever have is the relationship that you have with yourself. The moment that you decide to treat the girl reflecting back at you in the mirror with love and respect, that will be the moment you begin to step into your power.
Over 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by eating disorders, with 89% being young girls. If you, or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder call Beat’s helpline today: 0808 801 0677.
Helena Grace Donald is an empowerment coach, teen mentor, and the author of Learning to Love the Girl in the Mirror: A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living a Happy and Healthy Life For more information see: https://www.girlunfiltered.com/