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.

NEDA Week 2016

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As Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to an end, I am taking the last few hours of this day to think about how my life has changed ever since I entered recovery.

At age 17, I started dieting to lose weight. When the weight refused to come off I went to more extreme and unstable methods to drop the pounds. I would skip meals, cut out for groups, count calories and run for hours on end. I was scared to eat out, refused to eat sweets and choose salads for meals, only to return home later and binge.

At 20, I began purging and I started getting depressed. I did my best to maintain my grades – which I did – but I was slowly drowning. I’d wake promising myself I wouldn’t binge, but I’d fail. I hated the way my body looked and refused to dress in anything other than black. I hated taking pictures. I wanted to lose weight. I was scared of food.

At 21, I became suicidal. I knew I needed help, but I was afraid of telling my mother. At 21, you’re supposed to be young and free, living your life with adventures and milkshakes, laughing at your mistakes and falling in love and traveling with friends. You’re not supposed to be suicidal at 21.

At 22, I started going for therapy, saw a dietician and trying to turn my life around. My psychologist stayed with me for 1 year to help me work on my issues but unfortunately, my eating did not get any better.

At 23, I doubled up my efforts in recovering. I was going through heartbreak and in an effort to reinvent myself, I focused on becoming a better person. Instead of focusing on eating, I focused on mindfulness and discovered the meaning & importance of self-love.

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Every since then my eating has slowly improved. I immersed myself in the eating disorder recovery and body positive community for support and am slowly emerging from my self-created prison. I’m learning to reject the standards of beauty society has, surrounding myself with people who encourage and support me throughout my journey & working on embracing my body for what it is. I’m learning to define myself in more than just physical looks. I’m slowly finding my confidence, becoming the woman I want to be, becoming more experimental with my clothing and style to express myself because my low self-esteem and self-hatred prevented me from embracing my identity.

I’ve been recovering for 3 years now, and I am still recovering. I don’t know whether I will fully recover in the future and I’m scared to think that one day I will relapse, but I tell myself that no matter how hard it is I will keep going. I will try to embrace every bit of my body and imperfections because I do not ever wish to return to the girl I was 5 years ago. I’ve tasted freedom and I want it. Sure there are days when I choose to eat less because I felt bloated and disgusting, and yes there are days when I hate my body and want to curl under my blankets, and yes I have moments when I compare myself to other girls wishing I had her body and okay there are times when I choose to exercise because I wanted to lose weight to be skinnier. But that’s ok because no one said recovery was going to be easy.

I’m not perfect and all that matters at the end of the day is that I choose recovery over quitting. 

I’m not fully recovered, but everyday I do my best to be the best version I can be and do my best to stick to the habits that promote recovery instead of those that support my disorder because I am worth, and deserve to live a life free from an eating disorder. I am not meant to be dieting and starving and crying. Life is not meant try fitting into a small size, gain approval and validation from others, & comparing yourself to other people wishing you were taller, skinnier, leaner and/or prettier.

I don’t want to be spending the rest of my life worrying about whether or not I ate too much, whether I’m skinny enough and pretty enough, how much exercise I should do to burn off all those calories. Instead I am meant to spread my wings and fly to live my life, gain experiences, make the  mistakes I’m supposed to make in my 20s so I can look back and laugh til I cry, go on whirlwind adventures, fall in love, dance to my heart’s content, wear my favorite outfits without shame or embarrassment, watch sunsets, dance in the rain (yes I love doing that), watch cupcake tutorials without feeling guilt and eat exotic food.

I am not meant to be defined by my weight, my size or my physical appearance. I am more than that. Ever since embarking on recovery I have started defining myself by my strength, my loyalty, my determination, my sass, my passion and the love in my heart.

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To all those out there on the path of recovery – you are worth recovery. You deserve to live a fulfilled life and you deserve happiness. It will be challenging, it will be difficult, it will be effortful and it will be painful, but you will find strength from your struggles and you will realize that the person that emerges from the ashes is one who is awesome and who is powerful, and you will begin to wonder why you haven’t met him/her sooner, and you will want to continue seeing how much this person will grow and see who this person will finally become. 

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Choose recovery. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance. Choose self-love. Choose life. 

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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how to achieve body confidence

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this marriage of billowy culottes and the modern jumpsuit screams versatile and oh so comfortable in Singapore’s hot & humid weather

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I first started this blog with the intention of documenting my journey with recovering from an eating disorder and developing a more positive relationship with body. To further my progress in achieving a healthy body image I began doing some “photoshoots” to capture my outfits and incorporating them into my blog until it became something of a body-positive-eating-disorder-recovery-kinda-sorta-fashion blog. I’m not an exclusive fashion blogger. I don’t go on photoshoots & I tend to write more about body positivity & ED recovery than fashion, but I do love dressing up & sometimes use photography as a way of developing a more positive body image because I have always avoided expressing myself through my personal sense of style during the height of my eating disorder days. I felt so miserable not only hiding my body in baggy loose shirts, but also avoiding mirrors so I wouldn’t have to look at my body & ended up hating the way I look. 

Throughout my recovery journey, doing these #semiprofesh photoshoots (because you know I don’t have a camera and use my phone instead), I’ve come to learn some things about achieving body confidence:

Wear the right clothes for your body & wear clothes that reflect your personal style.

I know that the body-positive community urges women to ignore these so called “fashion rules” and to “wear it if they like it”. Here’s my 2 cents and you can either accept it or reject it but let me just bring lay my own perspective on the table all right. I do agree in “wearing it if I like it” because after all, I’ve passed over many many outfits that I liked but never had the courage to wear because I felt I wasn’t skinny enough to look good in them. However ever since I embarked on my eating disorder recovery I’ve taken baby steps out my comfort zone and started wearing sleeveless dress, jumpsuits and even a body con dresses once because…well, because I can and because I’ve slowly developed a more positive relationship with my body to allow myself to don these frocks. However, having said that I also believe in striking a balance and actually choosing clothes that are both suitable for your body type AND reflect your personal sense of style. 

Wear clothes that reflect your style

Listen, not all trends will work for us, its not your responsibility to follow trends. Just because people are telling you to “wear it if you like it” doesn’t mean you should follow them and that it will work for you because it just ain’t you. Wild retro or animal prints may be the rage but I’m not about to jump on the bandwagon and deck myself in them because…its just not me. Find clothes that express your unique personality and work it, because confidence isn’t about following trends and looking like every body els;  its about letting your inner personality shine through your clothes and being yourself without the need to conform to something else. Know what styles work for you and what doesn’t. Don’t compromise your style to fit in with others, coz it ain’t worth it. You are a work of art. So work it.

Wear the right clothes for your body

When I say to wear the right clothes for your body, I’m not talking much about dressing to look thinner. I’m talking about wearing clothes that are of a good fit so that you feel comfortable and confident in it. For instance, I have broad shoulders and thus, am top heavy and let me tell you, I’m not going to wear large, oversized kaftan tops because it will exaggerate my frame and make me look disproportionate & with extra fabric floating around my body, I’m just going to look like a disheveled frump. I’m not going to wear something that’s too small or a “just-nice” fit because it makes me feel uncomfortable or like I cant breathe or that makes me keep tugging at the top so that I have room to move my arms. Yes, I can wear the top if I want to if it looks absolutely gorgeous and stunning, but at the end of the day, I personally don’t want to look frumpy; I wanna look good. If you choose good fitting clothes that suit your body, you will look good and you feel good. No scratch that, you feel #badass.

If you don’t want to wear a certain something (e.g. cropped tops / high waisted jeans) because you’re still struggling with bad body image, then don’t, simple as that. You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon and wear something if it doesn’t make you feel good about your body. It doesn’t make you a body-shamer. It makes you…well…you. It just means you don’t feel good in it, end of story. Don’t force yourself to do something if you’re not ready for it because it’ll do you more harm then good. The priority is to take the time to understand the relationship you have with your body, and work on ways to improve it. When you’re ready, then by all means rock that outfit like you were born to wear it no matter what size you are. 

Stop fat-talk; change your inner dialogue

 I talked about the importance of positive self-talk in my previous post here: [ positive self-talk and body image ] . How you talk to yourself about how you look and how your body impacts body confidence. You can’t expect to be confident about your body if there is a voice saying that you look ugly and you look puffy in an outfit and telling you that you need to lose weight and you need to change out that outfit because it looks better on a thinner person. Criticizing yourself won’t change your body, and it’ll only attack the confidence you have in yourself. You can’t change the situation, so change your attitude. When you find yourself automatically pointing out your flaws when you look in the mirror or looking at the photos of yourself, STOP IMMEDIATELY. Change the channel and reframe your thoughts and and highlight the positives. “I am not fat, I am curvy and I can rock this dress” – stuff like that. The more you look out for imperfections, the more likely you are to make looking out for it a habit. Remember, what your mind says, your heart follows.

 Stop avoiding mirrors or pictures of yourself 

This is the one thing that I myself am also working on still. Too often those of us struggling with body image tend to avoid mirrors because we don’t want to see our bodies. But the truth is, its just keeping us in denial. To have a positive relationship with your body and be confident with it is to accept that this is the body that you have right at this very moment. In the past, I absolutely hated taking pictures, looking at myself in pictures and sometimes even standing in front of the mirror because I didn’t like what I saw – the rolls, the flabs etc. I didn’t like the body that I had because it disgusted me. But I believe its essential to spend more time with the mirror to come to terms with reality and learn to stop picking my body apart and criticizing it. That was why I started incorporating photoshoots in some of my blog posts – it was a journey of coming to terms with my body, that these pictures are a reflection of what my body truly is and to learn to stop picking it apart to love and accept myself more. 

Hang out with body positive people 

This is like a total no-brainer. If you hang out with people who are also tearing themselves apart, picking their flaws and constantly complaining about their thighs and stomach, you’re going to end up being just like them and feel even worse about your body. The key to improving your perception of yourself is to associate yourself with people who is body positive and who don’t rag on and on about their body. My best friends are super body-positive and I rarely hear them talk negatively about their own body and trust me, its great to be in the company of people like that because it makes you think of all the negative things you’re saying and how awful they actually sound. Like, would you even say that to your friend? Plus, it also motivates you to want to stop saying them. After all, who likes hanging out with people who are always complaining about cellulite and fat and whatnot? Its just depressing. You don’t need that shit in your life.

Stop caring about what others think

The reality is that there will be people who will have negative opinions about you. They don’t know you and they don’t care about you. Not everyone is going to be kind and accepting. People are judgmental and no matter what we wear, what we look like, how much we weigh, how we dress, people will always have something to say. If you’re going to be “oh my god I don’t have thin arms and what if I wear this sleeveless top wont people think I’m fat?” or “oh my god my legs are so muscular people will think I’m so unfeminine” you’re not going to be happy and you’ll probably end up just staying at home and dwelling in your misery. I mean, why place your happiness and self-esteem in the opinions of people whom you don’t even know and whom you will never even see again? Even if you do know them, why place your happiness in their hands anyway? Don’t let their opinions be the be-all and downfall of your self-esteem.  

Find a role model

I’m not sure about you, but for me, I find it helpful to have a role model to look up to, especially in times when I’m feeling vulnerable about my body. I’m not skinny, and in a society that continues to glorify thin bodies, I sometimes feel ashamed about my curvy/muscular body and find the confidence in myself depleting as fast as women running toward the sales. I still have problems accepting my body, especially my arms, legs and my tummy because because they’re not toned or thin as society thinks should be. So I look to role models such as body-positive people I find on Instagram who share in my struggle with accepting their body but find ways to embrace themselves. I also look to fashion bloggers and some plus-size media personalities such as Ashley Graham & Nadia Aboulhosn who rock their bodies in whatever they wear. They inspire & motivate me to want to channel their confidence and remind myself that even though I’m not be skinny, I don’t have flat tummy or a tall thin body, I sure as hell can still rock a body con dress if I want to. 

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  Stop holding yourself to unrealistic standards 

Be kind to yourself and stop comparing yourself to others, especially people who seem to fit the physical standards of what society, or even what you think is perfect and ideal. Perfection doesn’t exist, beauty is subjectve and you can never be beautiful or thin or curvy or lean enough for anybody. When you compare yourself to unrealistic standards in the media or to other people, you’re treating yourself to a one-way ticket to poor self esteem. There is beauty in diversity so embrace your body type for what it is. You may not have some things other girls have, but then again, you yourself have some things that other girls don’t that they wish they have. 

When you are confident with your body, you unleash your inner queen and your confidence shows in the way you carry yourself. 

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What are some ways that you guys use to get body confident? Leave a comment and let me know!

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.

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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