My Body Image Story: Part One – Childhood and High School

If you’ve been following my blog since I started it you’ll know that this is not the start of my weight loss journey. But before I get to that, I thought I should discuss my story from the very beginning to give you some insight into why I’m focused on creating a healthy life for myself. It’s a long story, so grab a cup of green tea and settle in for a good read.

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I remember being a fairly active kid. Although I spent a lot of time sitting inside drawing all day, see above, I was very much a tom boy and liked being outside with the boys; playing rough and tumble, football and bull rush. Growing up in New Zealand and Australia, being outside was a given. I took dance class and gymnastics after school, but gave it up for drama as I was determined to become an actress (until I was 17, no joke – still holding out for that Oscar).

I didn’t give my body any thought until I moved to Wales when I was 9. Again, I was fairly active taking ice skating and trampoline lessons on top of being part of a football team and taking drama classes. I continued to play outside with the boys. Despite being active however, I became chubby with a big belly and developed a love for all of the delicious British sweets, cakes and treats. This is also when other kids made me aware of my body. I was bullied for being ‘fat’ by kids who were bigger than me, and I started taking this to heart.

This bullying continued when I moved back to Wellington aged 11 (and didn’t stop until I was 16, whatever, kids are mean and I was, and am, awesome). I couldn’t fit the kind of clothes the ‘popular’ girls wore at primary school; surf labels galore. Towards the end of primary school is when I developed the notion of “healthy” and “naughty” foods. I would secretly eat the “naughty” food we had in the house when no one was watching, hiding chip and chocolate wrappers at the bottom of the bin. I picked this habit up from my Mum who was a constant yo-yo dieter and very overweight, I don’t blame my Mum at all, but the environment I grew up in definitely contributed to my body image issues.

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Becoming a teenager shifted my belly and puppy fat to my booty and thighs. I played football throughout high school and loved it. I was always busy with drama or art or music or socialising. High school was also when I started to obsess about my body. I continued to secret eat, I would gain weight then lose it, I was fit, but in my head I was fat and I saw that as a very negative thing. My Dad was terrible at this time of my life, sorry Dad! He would tell me that if I “lost 10kg I would be so much faster on the football field” or things like, “you’re a very pretty girl Anneke, if you lost a bit of weight boys would like you more”. I know now that he was worried and trying to help, but my Dad is just bad at putting things right and being encouraging. If anything, it made my thoughts on my body more negative and made me turn to food instead.

I wasn’t actually that overweight – 68kg on a 158cm tall frame (4kg heavier than the top of my healthy weight range), yet I would obsessively read my Mum’s diet books and write big notes in my journal about how I wanted to lose weight to make boys like me. Yep. I was so insecure, and I binge ate a lot of ice cream, fries and brownies in secret.

In my last years of high school I began to be a lot happier and more secure with who I was growing up to be, I started to not care as much. A boy fell in love with me which boosted my confidence, but I strung him along for a year before heading over to the UK for a month, gaining a bunch of weight, having a revelation moment and then returning to tell him that I liked him, albeit several months later…

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TO BE CONTINUED

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