stop trying so hard

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Why are we trying so hard to fit in? Why do all want to lose weight and get thin? Why do restrict our food (only to binge after) and constantly work out in the gym to get a good body? Why do we care about what other people think about us? Why do we care so much about how many likes we get on Facebook and Instagram? Why do we care whether or not other people see as beautiful and thin? Why do we care about wanting to look a certain way and be a certain way?

Through my years of struggling with my eating disorder and body image issues, I’ve come to realize that much of my problems stem from a desire to look a certain way and gain social approval from others. Blame social media and the current body and beauty trends if you will, but it seems the type of body gaining lots of positive comments are “slim and lean” and “small waist, big booty”. I ask you to take a look at Instagram and look to popular social media influencers such as fashion bloggers and fitness models, and let me know what the most common body type is. I ask you to take a look at beauty pageants, at Hollywood and television and I ask you to tell me what the body type that gains the most positive attention. I ask you to look at magazines and tell me whether you see more titles telling you to embrace your body instead of dieting and losing 10 pounds and how to disguise your flabby belly.

The glamorization of certain female body types are harmful, to say the least. It triggers unrealistic expectations and undeserved body comparisons. It makes many of dislike our bodies and think negative thoughts. We start living the get a body because we want the same validation. After all, who doesn’t want to be complimented and admired and revered? Humans have an innate need for social approval and validation. We want to be accepted, to be liked and to fit in. But at what cost?

It doesn’t matter whether or not we have a curvy figure or not. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have long toned slim legs. It doesn’t matter if have a belly that jiggles and folds that we sit. If I do, does  it mean I’m less of a woman? How am I being judged based on how flat my belly is or not?

We need to stop thinking that being thinner, being curvier, being taller or having certain body types or certain appearances will make us happier. As someone who’s spent years trying to look a certain way, I can honestly tell you that you will be wasting your time. You can never be thin enough or curvy enough or sexy enough for some people. We’re not put on Earth to physically please others with our looks. The only thing that makes us happy, is to live our lives doing what we love without the validation of others.

You are allowed to live and be here and be present in your whole authentic self. You are allowed to post those “unflattering” photos of yourself on Instagram. You are allowed to leave the house without makeup (but with sunblock!) because you don’t need to wear makeup to be yourself! You are allowed to wear a bikini and cropped tops even if you aren’t skinny. You are allowed to be wholly you because you deserve to be here. You are allowed to love what you see in the mirror. 

Stop trying to please others and live for others. Live for ourselves instead. The more we keep trying to live up to the expectations of others in order to gain approval and validation, we slowly begin to lose ourselves. We begin to live for other people’s approval. Our self-worth becomes dependent on them; without it, we don’t feel good about ourselves.

Let’s just and stop sacrificing our happiness and sanity to live up to a certain beauty ideal. Live for ourselves, and live to be the best version that we can be without conforming to the pressures of beauty ideals. Because, fuck its exhausting.

The ones who accept us only if we look a certain way, aren’t the ones who should be in our lives The ones who accept us no matter what shape and size we are, are the ones who truly care for us.

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Valentine’s Day: celebrating self-love

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For as long as I can remember I hated Valentine’s Day. Seeing all these happy couples doing cheesy things like holding hands and cuddling and girls carrying stuffed animals and giant bags full of gifts made me want to projectile-vomit and cut my eyes out because it felt like too much cheesy romantic things. Also, I didn’t need a reminder that I was single.

This year however I’m experiencing a different sort of emotion about Valentine’s Day. Yeah sure there’ll be the usual barrage of annoying couples doing annoying stuff(ugh), but somehow this month I’ve been reflecting on the many events I’ve been pt through that have tested and helped develop my character, and I’ve come to marvel at how much I’m learning what it really means to love yourself.

Loving yourself isn’t just about talking positive about yourself and having a healthy amount of confidence. Loving yourself also involves doing things that remind you of your self-worth & doing things that contribute to your own happiness.

So many young girls and women these days struggle to love themselves because they experience low self-esteem and low confidence, thereby making them feel unworthy of love. They judge themselves too much, compare themselves to unrealistic standards of physical attractiveness and engage in unhealthy behaviors (e.g. excessive exercising or disordered eating patterns) in order to fit into a mold set forth by society, all because they can’t accept and love themselves for the way they are right now.

This Valentine’s Day I’m taking a different approach. Instead of celebrating love for a guy I intend to celebrate love for myself. The many years I’ve spent struggling with an eating disorder and poor body image has made me realize that many of the things I’ve done were done out of self-hatred. Starving myself, binging, cutting, criticizing my looks, obsessively counting calories, rejecting compliments, hiding under ugly baggy clothes, were all things that were done out of self-hatred. When you love yourself, you nourish your body right rather than starve yourself. When you love yourself, you don’t punish your body for eating because of the unnecessary excessive guilt it inflicts upon you. When you love yourself, you dress to express your personality instead of hiding your body out of shame.

Also, this Valentine’s Day I’m celebrating my capacity for self-love by recognizing my worth and value as a woman. I’ve abandoned toxic relationship because my worth as a person, be it as a friend or romantic partner, wasn’t being sufficiently recognized and was making me unhappy. Through various situations I’ve faced & that has tested me, I’ve learned to recognize my self-worth, remind myself of the value that I am, be kind to myself & not disrespect myself in any way by compromising my beliefs to please others. When you love yourself, you are kind to yourself & make choices that you’re comfortable with. When you love yourself, you don’t change to please others; you be yourself and the right people will come to you. When you love yourself, you come to realize that self-criticism is a dangerous method of self-destruction & you mindfully engage in less of it.  

This Valentine’s Day, learn to fall in love with and embrace your imperfections, your flaws, the physical parts of your body that you want to change, your fears, your insecurities, your quirks because they are what make you uniquely you.

This Valentine’s Day, appreciate the love and passion that rests in your soul. Appreciate how sensitive you are, how kind you are, how loyal you are, how loving you are, and how giving you are. Don’t let heartbreak and loneliness douse the fire in your heart. Appreciate that you make mistakes & learn from them because you’re human. Appreciate that you can never be as strong as you want to be all the time, and allow yourself to be vulnerable and learn from being outside your comfort zone.

Finally, this Valentine’s Day, this photoshoot is to celebrate my love for myself because after years of hating my body, I want to live in the moment and enjoy exactly how fabulous and great I felt in that smashing bodysuit and tights.

“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”

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I’m tired of hating my body cos I don’t.

Dancers face their own personal body images issues as well and as a chubby dancer myself, I completely relate to what Azzura has blogged about here. For those of you dance, do you face any body image issues? What are they? Am also in the process of interviewing Azzura (read: creating interview questions hehe) so stay tuned!

Inspiring People.

I actually grew up with various issues about self-image; as a part Indian-part Malay chubby Muslim Malaysian female, social situations can take sudden hostile turns at any point when people find it frustrating when they can’t put you in a ‘category’. Growing up, I felt confused and often nervous to explain my background….. it just seemed like whatever my answers were, I was always giving the WRONG answer. How can I look Indian but have a Malay name? How can I be Muslim but look Indian? Etc etc. I just AM, ok.

However, luckily I had a loving family that nurtured me into an outgoing child, and somehow I was able to get past all the identity-crises and I grew up a confident child and teenager who had lots of friends. There might’ve even been a boy or two who liked me in school — but well, it was usually…

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Love Your Body Week: Look 1- Back to Black

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This week I shall be dedicating posts in support of Love Your Body Week (7 Sept – 11 Sept), that’s jointly launched by the Butterfly Foundation and Sportsgirl. To those of you who may not know, the Butterfly Foundation is a organization in Australia that not only provides services to individuals affected by eating disorders and negative body image, but also reaches out to friends and family members of affected individuals to give all of them the care and support that they need. I love this because eating disorders don’t just affect the individual diagnosed with it; it has an indirect impact on those closest to him/her as well. The Foundation also advocates for the development of a healthy body image and they do so by offering a series of workshops to schools & programs to raise awareness about the role of eating disorders in body image and instill body confidence in everyone. In line with the Foundation’s overarching objectives, the Love Your Body Week aims to emphasize the importance of having a healthy body image, developing body confidence & also to remind individuals that our self worth is not based on our body shape or size

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What exactly is body confidence? Body confidence isn’t just about feeling and looking good. Its about being confident with the body that you have. With th Throughout my years of struggling with body image, I’ve learned that body confidence comes to us when we do these two things: when we accept our body and then embrace our body. It means:

  • Accepting and acknowledging that the body you have right now is the best and only body that you will have at this very moment & choosing to be okay with it.
  • Accepting and acknowledging that you have a body shape that’s different from others,  that there are women who are thinner than you, curvier than you, leaner than you and/or taller than you.
  • Accepting and acknowledging that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes but instead of criticizing yourself for not being as thin as others, you choose to be okay with it instead of spending the next few days/weeks/months/years mentally bashing yourself over it.
  • OWNING YOUR BODY LIKE YOU MEAN IT BECAUSE YOU ARE A QUEEN

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Everyday we are flooded with messages from the media, from society, from the diet, fitness and fashion industry, and sometimes even from our friends and family that out lumps and bumps should be flattened, covered or sucked out to achieve a svelte body. This causes so many of us to question our looks, cause us to lose confidence in ourselves & look into ways to alter our appearances to live up to a standard that is almost imposible to achieve unless you have Kim Kardashian’s parade of stylists, nutritionists, trainers and makeup artists in the palm of your hands 24/7. The unhealthy messages wasseverely impacting my body esteem and I spent a long time believing I had the wrong type of body; a body that’s unworthy and ugly.

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When we accept our body the way it is, we treat ourselves with love and respect; I believe body confidence is reflected not only in the way we speak about our bodies and how we carry ourselves, but also through the way you dress. When I hated my body so much when I was younger, I blatantly refused to wear dresses, short skirts and sleeveless tops. I hated that my arms were skinny enough. Cropped tops frightened, and I guess to a small extent, still frighten me because I don’t have a flat stomach and I was wearing black most of the time. I love dressing up, but my body image problems overwhelmed and prevented me from expressing myself through fashion. The only outfit I’d considered safe was big baggy black long sleeved tops with blue jeans or denim shorts. I rarely/hardly wore sleeveless things or slim-cut clothing. White pants were out because the magazines say white isn’t slimming. Dresses were too feminine for my unfeminine body. I felt trapped and unhappy.

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Since I embarked on my eating disorder recovery, I’m learning how to respect my body more. Its taken me a long time to accept that my body is curvy, yet there are days when I have trouble embracing my body because some part of me still wishes I were taller, thinner and leaner. However my acceptance journey is reflected in my choice of clothes. I’m slowly stepping out my comfort zone and experimenting with different styles, cut and even color.

HENCE, in honor of Love Your Body Week, I’m going to combine body-positive blogging and fashion blogging in which I will share some of the outfits that reflect my style, and acceptance of my body that pushed me to step away from loose baggy ill-fitting black tops and jeans into things that actually make me feel beautiful and good about my body. And, also because I love fashion 😀

Today’s post will be a MAJOR MAJOR throwback to the very first official photoshoot I did with a friend last year at Gardens by the Bay. It was probably my first time doing a photoshoot in collaboration with another body activist (HI NISSA WE GOTTA DO THIS AGAIN) for a post which I did last year about fashin and body empowerment and so I thought it apt to revive it for this occasion because it

100% carries the message I want to spread to others about body confidence today, especially if you yourself have low body confidence which makes you feel ashamed about wearing certain clothes so go read it thanks & i know it might be a slightly long read but it’ll only take up like 5 minutes of your time or even less! (read it here).

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Fashion isn’t just about showing the world your style, wit and flair. Its also a reflection of how you feel about your body. If you’re confident about your body, you don’t choose outfits that hide your body out of shame and hatred. You choose to wear a particular outfit because you feel confident in it and confident about your body, you feel fabulous in it and you choose it because it screams “I’m wearing this outfit because I’m okay with my body and I don’t care if you have a problem with it and I am going to rock this!’

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A black dress is a must have for every woman. I have 4. They’re clean, simple, classic and versatile but sometimes I feel the need to style it up with accessories to showcase my own personal touch. I paired this black bowler hat for that off-beat hippy vibe to add some edge to this classic straight-cut midi dress, before finishing the look with ankle boots. Sometimes when in doubt, you just have to go back to black.

positive self-talk and body image

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Have you ever noticed how you respond when you look at a picture of yourself, or even as you stand in front of the mirror? You spend a good amount of time getting dolled up(or not) and pick out that decent-looking outfit and think you look fabulous. But then when you finally see those photos when the day ends, you look at yourself and after a nano-second, go: “Oh god i look so fat” and/or “How do I lose 10 pounds in 2 days because I really need it.” and/or “My arms looks like chunky sausages”.

I met up with a close friend the other day at our alma mater. It was a fabulous day. The skies were brilliantly clear and blue (though the sun was burning & bright I couldn’t even open my eyes properly for pictures) and the school grounds were mercifully empty due to it being study week. When I looked through the pictures she took for me while on the bus home (because who can wait til you get back home?!), I was a little taken aback. I thought I looked…well…bigger…than what I thought I looked in the mirror. And without any hesitation, in less than a nano-second, a nano-nano second really, I automatically starting pulling and picking myself apart “Oh my god my arms are so fat I hate it.”, “My calves look disgusting”, “I need to lose weight”.

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 Why is it so easy to point out the flaws in ourselves than it is to notice the positive? Naturally I felt like crap afterward, but then suddenly, and very inexplicably there was a small part of me that went: “Stop it Serene. Just stop. This is what’s going to make you hate yourself more. This was what you did before. You’re different now. The old you would tear yourself apart from limb to limb. The new you is embracing yourself and trying to love yourself more. STOP. This is the body that you have. You can’t force yourself to lose weight in 2 days. This is the best version of yourself you can be right this very minute. You may not be skinny but you have curves. STOP.”

I guess after 1 year of hard work at practicing positive thinking has finally sparked some change in my thought patterns. Its like my mind has quietly developed the ability to detect disturbing anomalies in my thinking; anamolies that threaten to take me back to being the old me, the depressed, self-hating, constantly counting calories and avoiding “bad” foods me. A different person came up. A more positive, self-loving person determined to rebut whatever it is that my ED voice is telling me. So all the way on the bus ride home, my internal dialogue shifted and I repeated that positive affirmation to myself. And I could feel my emotions changing for the better. Just half an hour ago I was upset & downcast & ready to hide in my baggy clothes for the next 53 years. But after changing the way I thought about myself in those pictures, I felt so much better. I felt calmer and thought less about losing weight. Sure it took a while, but hey, I felt much better.

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Here’s the hard truth: when we don’t love ourselves, we’re forever constantly picking out flaws. And we do that because we don’t love ourselves enough to see other positive qualities in us. We pick out our flaws, because we don’t live up the the expectations that we have of how we want to look like. When we see that our arms aren’t muscular & toned like we expect them to be, we say they’re fat. When our tummies aren’t tight and toned like we expect and want them to be, they’re jiggly & disgusting. Our expectations of how our bodies are affecting our dialogue with our bodies.

So while I’m working on trying to accept myself, it turns out I still have some expectations about my body that might have been a little….well…not so good because there I was, sitting in the bus and flipping through the photos which my friend took for me & constantly picking out flaws and dismissing myself as fat.

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You see, when we talk harshly about our body parts and criticize them repeatedly, we become susceptible to negative perceptions and emotions. After all, what we think, we feel. And vice versa. When you think you’re ugly and fat, you automatically put yourself in a bad mood. When you overload your brain with negative dialogue, there’s less room and effort for (1) focusing on the positive things about yourself and (2) reframing the negative into positive talk. When you continuously pick out flaws in yourselves, it becomes a habit and every time you look at yourself in the mirror or in a picture, or even just by yourself, you’ll automatically start tearing yourself apart. Imagine doing that for the next 20 years. 20 years of picking & pulling, criticizing & complaining. Its no wonder we hate ourselves.

When we automatically engage in negative internal dialogue about ourselves, it becomes easier to fall into the trap of making lists of forbidden foods and starting to count all those calories until we end up developing terribly distorted body image, low self-esteem and confidence & disordered eating patterns. We start to feel overwhelmed. Powerless. The old me was constantly picking out physical flaws, aspects of myself that didnt live up to the standard of phsycail attractiveness that I so strongly adhered today before. I was therefore, constantly striving to repair my flaws. I ended up developing disordered eating and obsessively exercising which only fueled the nagyve self-talk when I wasn’t able to live up to my expectations and lived in failure.

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So maybe my arms and abs will never be as toned and small as Jillian Michaels and I won’t ever be as thin as Kendall Jenner, but it doesn’t mean I have to beat myself over it. Body positivity involves acceptance of yourself, loving yourself and also being kind to yourself. Unless you have Aladin’s genie, you can’t change your body overnight. You’ve been at war with yourself for such a long time and all that negative self-talk got you to such a low depressed, self-hating state. Its become a habit. A disease. A healthy body image requires one to have a positive dialogue with oneself. It won’t occur overnight. It’ll take time and effort, but it’ll change you for the way you think about yourself, and for the better.

So next time when you start thinking negatively about your body, make the conscious effort to stop and reframe those thoughts. Think back to how you felt about yourself whenever you engaged in negative internal dialogue. Do you still want to continue feeling that way the rest of your life? NO. So do something about it. Make the conscious effort to change your thoughts, because when your mind makes the effort, your heart will follow. 

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10 minutes with Anastasia Amour

  Hey guys! For today’s blog post I thought I’d take a different approach & introduce to you one of the bloggers whom I follow on social media. In our quest to be more body-positive and break free from the cycle of disordered eating, we look to others for inspiration, to give us hope, love and support, as well as the derivation of comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone in our fight to recover and develop a positive body image.

I’m always on the lookout for people to follow, be it through blogs or Instagram, to get inspiration and encouragement for my own journey & always want to find out more about their own personal journey, their personal stories, and their personal perspectives on issues that are important to me. So today I’d like to introduce you to one of the very first persons I looked up to. Say hello to…Anastasia Amour!

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Anastasia is an eating-disorder surviver (read her story About Anastasia) & body-image educator and blogger from Australia, where snow falls in June and where the summer heat sears in December! She is the founder of her blog: http://www.anastasiaamour.com where she dishes out practical and empowering advice about developing a positive body image, being an empowered, self-confident woman & well as coping with the challenges of an eating disorder based on her own experience with anorexia. Anastasia’s was actually the first blog and IG account I followed when I was searching for body-positive and ED recovery accounts to follow (hehe) and hence, I thought it fitting to dedicate this first interview to her & introduce this wonderful woman to you, & also to pick her brains about her  thoughts and reflections about some of the tribulations and triumphs of eating disorder recovery.

 I love her blog and her other social media accounts because its just jammed-packed with so much empowering and positive posts that cover the tiny little everyday things that affect the way we see ourselves – such as the words we use & the things we do –  to dead-serious issues that make you stop in your tracks and wonder why you’ve never thought about it impacts women. She posts encouraging motivational quotes to remind us of our worth, what it means to be an empowered womb, as well conducts her own social media movements, such as the Fearless Body Confidence, to spread messages of body-love, healthy, diet-free living, confidence & self-acceptnce.

Plus her blog & all her posts are so pretty!! ❤ ❤ ❤ Makes me wish I knew more about HTML! Sigh pie.

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I think what made me decide to want to personally reach out to her is because I wanted to create a bridge from the superficials of what I know about her and what she does, as well as gain insight into what she really thinks about some issues that I, as well as other women, go through during an ED recovery. Sometimes, when I read blogs or even Instagram feeds I feel a slight sense of disconnect from the user even though we share the same struggles because while I love their work, part of me always yearns want out to find out more. I wonder if she felt this way. Did go through the same thing I did. Does this affect her as well? I wonder what she thinks about this issue I’ve been thinking about.

When I read her responses to the questions, I was so floored! I kept going “OMG yes exactly this is what I’m thinking too. OMG yes, girl I know what you mean. OMG yes now somebody i know feels the same way about this. OMG yes, this was what I went through.”   Hence, I wanted to introduce you to her and the awesome work she does to uplift women because isn’t that what the blogging and body-positive community is about? 😀 Also, I think it pretty much reinforces this important fact: you’re not alone in this struggle. Sometimes I keep thinking that I’m the only one feeling this way because I can’t seem to find anyone sharing the same experiences. The information I source online are all…impersonal. If you get what I mean. Written by the hands of a journalist or researcher instead of one who has actually experienced what I’m going through. But then there are people like Anastasia, advocates who reach out to other women in wonderful awesome ways to empower them, to help them reinvent themselves and be confident queens ❤

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Anyway, here’s Anastasia for you ❤ For those in recovery, I hope her responses strike a chord in you that motivate you to continue reaching for that shining light that will help you stay on recovery!

heart border1Hi! For those unfamiliar with your work and what you do, please introduce yourself.

Hello! My name is Anastasia and I’m a Body Image Educator from Australia, writing at anastasiaamour.com. Suffering from Anorexia Nervosa in my teens, I went through some very dark things – now having recovered, I’ve gone on to study Psychology and Mental Health, and I dedicate my life to empowering all women to feel beautiful, whole and amazing in the skin that they’re in.

What made you decide to reach out to others?
I know that there’s such huge power in community and sharing our stories and when I was at my lowest points, I longed for a sense of camaraderie with other people who were going through the same thing. None of us are truly alone in life.

Your eating disorder story that you’ve shared on your blog touches the hearts of so many women struggling with the same things! What were some initial struggles you faced with your recovery?
The hardest thing about recovery for me was the fact that I chose to do it all myself. I was very secretive about what I was going through and although my parents and friends could easily tell I had an eating disorder, I never actually said the words to anyone or let them in on what was happening to me. I felt sure that I would fail everyone around me if I told them and I falsely believed that needing help would make me weak, so my recovery was entirely self initiated and managed. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

As someone who’s recovered from your eating disorder, have there been times when you felt tempted to return to your old habits? How did you overcome them?
Plenty of times! Relapses are real and sometimes no matter how well you think you’re doing, those old thoughts and habits can infiltrate your mindset. With many cases of Anorexia Nervosa, even when a sufferer has “recovered” there will still be old thought patterns and pathways within the mind. I say many cases because in some ED sufferers, the triggers for their ED are largely internal but for most, external variables are merely the catalyst that sparks an internal imbalance caused by a complex series of processes in the brain that misinterpret hunger and emotional cues, to name just a few elements. Knowing this, relapses are inevitable and for me, knowing that my ED is always going to be a part of me, it’s about prevention. If I can take steps to minimize the impact of relapses, they’re usually much less severe.

There will be times when people think about cutting back their food intake, or exercising to compensate for their meal & sometimes wishing they were thinner, even when they say they are fully recovered. What are your thoughts on that? What is recovery, then? Do you think that one can be “fully recovered” from an eating disorder?
This ties back to what I mentioned in the previous question, and the definition of “recovery” will vary from person to person depending on what they’ve been diagnosed with and whether the triggers for them are internal or external. It’s a complex subject because the definition of “relapse” may also vary between sufferers – for example, one sufferer might count a relapse as any thoughts of bingeing/restricting whereas another sufferer might only count a relapse as a full blown episode of disordered behaviors. For me, recovery is a symbolic concept of inner peace and acceptance, and knowing that even in the midst of my relapses, I have the strength and tools to handle it. Personally, tying recovery to a concept that comes from within is much more satisfying than putting a condition on it because I don’t consider my relapses to invalidate my successes and triumphs. After all, mental illnesses aren’t a choice.

What has changed since embarking on recovery, in terms of your perception of yourself, your mindset or your attitude? What prevented you from relapsing?
I’m constantly changing, learning and growing and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m not the same person as I was yesterday, and I’ll be slightly different again tomorrow. I don’t want to hold myself to a definition of what I “should” be because I know that we’re all ever-evolving, and I want to embrace that. And like I said, relapses are very much a reality for me sometimes. You can’t predict that, so the best you can do is to be well prepared knowing that they might happen again at any point.

How do your blog and Instagram help girls and women struggling with body image issues & eating disorders?
I’ve had a lot of comments from girls & women suffering telling me how helpful it is just to see a range of bodies. I’m all for diversity in representation of the female form in the media, and I want to shatter the idea that only a certain type of woman’s body can be attractive. I love disconnecting the notion that your worth as a woman only comes from your appearance; instead embracing the idea that it’s totally okay to be at peace with your body and love it.

Losing weight can be a very personal decision & can be motivated by many reasons. The body-positive movement encourages women to accept & embrace their body; to exercise to reap its health benefits more than to achieve aesthetic objectives, yet there are people who choose to embrace the latter. What is your response to that? Can a person struggling with body image issues learn to be more body-positive yet still want to lose weight to look a certain way?
I think it would be naïve to attempt to completely disconnect body satisfaction with wanting to look a certain way, and where you draw the line at wanting to change your body and how that affects your mindset varies for the individual – one person’s obsession is another person’s norm. It’s entirely possible to love your body but still want to change it in one way or another, and whether or not the desire to change is “healthy” is largely connected to the motivation behind the change.

Recovering from an eating disorder is slow and can be tiring and equally stressful with lots of obstacles along the way. What advice do you have for other women struggling with their own eating disorder journey?
Recovery can be exhausting and it’s hard to explain that feeling to someone who hasn’t been through it! Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that even though those around you might not understand what you’re going through, they want to help you. If you can’t talk to a friend or parent, there are counselors and psychologist and help line workers who are all happy to listen to you, and sometimes it’s so helpful just to get your feelings off your chest. Never underestimate the power of talking about what you’re going through!

People struggling with eating disorders have a distorted relationship with food. Based on your own recovery journey, how can one reframe his/her thoughts about food to see it as fuel instead of as the enemy?
One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people (including those who aren’t suffering from ED’s) make with food is forming these intense emotional connections to it, especially around the emotions of guilt, fear and loneliness. It’s very hard to see food as just fuel when you lock yourself in a cycle of treating food as this big, scary and highly emotionally stimulating trigger. Again, this is going to vary for the individual and their specific issues but it all starts with tracing back your relationship with food to understand when you first started to form emotional relationships with what’s on your plate. You can then begin to unpick that and work from there.

We live in a society that continues to glorify thin bodies. Despite your acceptance of your flaws and your vulnerabilities, have you at times, wished you were thinner? How do you overcome that? What can we do?
For sure. I don’t tend to think of my body in that way any more and glorification of thin bodies doesn’t have to come at the vilification of larger bodies, and vice versa. For a long time I perceived my body as the polar opposite of thin, and it’s that “black and white” thinking that can be particularly damaging, particularly to ED sufferers. These days I prefer not to slap a label on my body, as seeing where my body fits on a spectrum doesn’t necessarily add anything to my existence. My body is just my body, and I don’t need to label it as fat or thin or anything in between. It’s just mine.

When you look back to who you were before embarking on your recovery journey, what are some thoughts and feelings that you have about how far you’ve come in terms of how the process of recovery has empowered and changed you?
The transformation within myself has been huge. I’m sure those who’ve known me for the entire time can certainly see that change but I think the full extent of the person I used to be vs. the person I am now is something that only I see fully – I’m a fairly private person and at the height of my struggles, I didn’t let anyone in on with what was going on with me. Even after recovering, there are still maybe 60% of the details of what went on with me that no one else knows. So introspectively, the change is really noticeable to me. These days I find empowerment in sharing what I’m going through and overall, I feel whole inside. The crushing emptiness and nothingness and great hatred and sadness that used to live inside me is now filled with light. And that’s not to say that I don’t have my negative moments because I certainly do, but I don’t actively open the door to negativity anymore.

What do you think it means to be an empowered woman?
The beauty of empowerment is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean – it’s up to you to define it! Personally I feel empowered when I’m not comparing myself to others and when I’m celebrating the success of some of the amazing women around me. I know that someone else succeeding doesn’t invalidate my own success, and it’s such a gorgeous feeling to be able to embrace that and lift up others

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Follow Anastasia’s journey and learn to be an empowered confident woman at: Anastasia Amour

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being confident with who you are just the way you are

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Let me ask you a question: if I were to get you to take a picture of yourself right now without makeup – yes you heard me right, no makeup no eyeliner no mascara no foundation no bronzer no nothing – would you find it attractive enough to post it on social media?

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     Have you only felt beautiful when dressed in certain clothes or when only when you’re with makeup?  Have you ever looked at yourself bare-faced or dressed down  and felt that you needed to wear full eye makeup before you can step out the house because you anticipate the day being filled with pictures being taken and you might end up looking drabby on Facebook, Instagram or someone’s blog? Have you ever looked at yourself all made up in pictures and in some weird way, recognize but don’t recognize yourself at the same time & think “I look drab without makeup”

A days ago I was looking back the pictures I’ve taken for my blog posts and I’ve noticed that in most of them, I’m more or less dressed more fancy that average. I’m taking fancier clothes, makeup and heels with contacts. When I dress up and get dolled up for special occasions for a fancy night out, my make-up routine consists of: sunblock, BB cream, eyeliner/eyeshadow, bronzer if I’m in the mood for it though I usually skip it because I feel like its too much, along with oil-absorbing powder for touchups because I’ve combination skin. I don’t put on full makeup because (1) there are too much things to buy like where am I going to get the money for all that, (2) I need a lot more time to put my face on and therefore, more makeup to remove at the end of the day, and (3) I don’t want to get used to wearing too much makeup such that I feel only comfortable when my face is fully made is up.

  Don’t get me wrong I’m the same person but I suppose for the lack of better words, I’m physically enhanced with the help of my heels and my trusted Bobbi Brown eyeliner. With my physical insecurities about my arms and legs,  I sometimes prefer only be photographed when I’m wearing jeans, long skirts or long sleeved tops instead of shorts because sometimes I end up wondering how fat my arms and legs would be and start worrying about baring them in public & feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes when there are phases during which I wear eyeliner everyday and take my eyeliner off in the shower when I get home, I suddenly notice how my bare eyes and think “God I hate my eyes they’re so small”. It was then that I realized: I’m addicted to my eyeliner. I feel ugly without my eyeliner, or even when I’m not dressed up. I try to preach the importance of loving your body for its current physical appearance, but here I am, moaning about how ugly I look without eyeliner.

That’s when I decided to do a post on just that. Sometimes when I go out to town I make extra efforts to look better “just in case” I end up taking pictures so I don’t go home at the end of the day looking back at the photos and cringing at myself because I’m not used to see myself dressed down with my face au natural. To celebrate the end of our part time working stint as facilitators for a school program, my bestie and I hit the town to go shopping for work-essential clothes. I knew I had wated to do a “photoshoot” for my post, so I started mentally preparing my outfits and getting ready to get my contacts out, but yesterday I decided, “darn this”. I don’t want to constantly hide myself under a layer of makeup and fancy clothing. Who says I can’t feel beautiful in just a plain top and shorts with my glasses? That’s who I really am. Sure I wore a bit of eyeliner and my sunblock just so I don’t look washed out in pictures and also because I ned my protection from the blasted sun but hey I wasn’t decked out in 10 layers of foundation and mascara and eyeliner and blush til I’m unrecognizable. I was showing me. The bare me. The real me. Not the me in contacts with lined eyes and fancier clothes that you usually see on my blog or on IG because I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I think I look better  when I’m dressed up in nicer clothes, and because I look nerdy with my glasses or washed out if I don’t wear full eye makeup. I’m not perfect. I’m human and sure I do want someone to look at me and say “wow you’re really beautiful!”.

Nope. Today. I’m showing the real me now here because that’s who I am. The person who I want to be comfortable with. I want to learn to start feeling more confident with how I look and the current size and shape I am now instead of constantly thinking I need to disguise it, because when I do I’m not really accepting myself for who I am. And I want to.

If you only feel good when dressed in a certain way or only when fully made up, then you haven’t truly accepted yourself. To accept that you look a certain way is to feel comfortable with the physical features that you were born with. Au natural. You shouldn’t have the live a life where you’re under the shadows of a certain style or with full makeup or not. There’s a difference between using makeup to enhance your features and using makeup because you need it to feel good about yourself. If you fall in the latter category, its probably time to do a make-up fast. If you shy away from camera because you happen to be dressed down on a particular day, then you probably need to start questioning yourself: why are you only comfortable when photographed wearing heels or dresses when you’re out but not when you’re in flats and jeans or when with your glasses? Is it because you feel you look better and prettier when dressed smarter? Because you anticipate posting your picture on social media and not getting enough likes on it? If taking pictures, even if its just with close friends, makes you uncomfortable because “I’m not wearing my contacts” or “I’m not wearing makeup my eyes look small” or “I’m wearing shorts everyone can see my legs”, then the question you need to ask is “who exactly are you dressing for?”

Just because you receive compliments from others when you wear makeup or fancy clothes doesn’t mean that you don’t look pretty when you’re dressed down. If you’re constantly covering up your legs and/or arms because you’re not confident of them and are afraid of showing them to other people in public, here’s something I tell myself when I start thinking that: (1) fake it til you make it, & (2) you’re never going to see those people again. Life is too short to be worrying about what other people think of you. Plus, chances are, they’re not even going to be zooming their attention on your arms and start talking smack about it. You’re a busy girl you got other important shit to do.

Beauty is skin deep and beauty isn’t fully defined by physical appearances. Don’t base your confidence on how you look on the outside, but rather, your inner qualities. You are not defined by what others think of you. Instead, you are defined by what you think of yourself. If you think you’re ugly without makeup and can’t leave the house without a fully made up face or without your heels, you are going to start to rely on others to receive affirmation of your beauty in the long run. You shouldn’t. Empowered and strong women don’t give a hoot what other people think of them. Empowered women think “I don’t care of they think I look this way”. They don’t need affirmation from others. They ain’t got no time for that shit. Their confidence comes from within.

I’m not saying you should now start looking the house with your drabby shorts and shirts with holes and slippers now. I’m not stopping you from dressing up if you want to and putting on makeup if you want to. That’s a girl’s right and privilege. Heck its fun to wear great clothes and apply makeup because seriously, the right clothes plus red lipstick can make you feel like a bad-ass bitch. Personally when I want to make an entrance and channel some Rhianna vibes, I wear my heels. You can’t feel and be a bad-ass bitch and shorts and slippers. Besides, we do need to dress a certain way and wear some makeup to look presentable in various situations. Like when we’re at work or at a social event. You can’t show up at work with a sallow complexion you got from staying up late last night binge-watching Sex and the City. What I’m saying is, if you are dressing up and wearing makeup everyday because you feel ugly and insecure with your looks its probably time to start thinking about who you’re dressing up for and why.

If you can’t accept yourself for the way you look au natural, how can you expect others to accept you? Don’t lose yourself until you become somebody that you no longer recognize; don’t love that person and lose the love for yourself because at the end of the day, the most important relationship you have in your life, is the relationship with yourself. And I mean your natural, sassy, fabulous and confident self.

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And this is my #nomakeup selfie. Check out the fab Marilyn Monroe fabric/curtain/thing to block the sun. My bestie gave it to me as a 24th birthday gift and I am completely in love with it

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