When asked if I would be interested in modelling in a swimsuit shoot, I thought that the world was trying to mess with me. I thought, “you’re joking, right?” Every part of my brain was yelling at me, telling me to say no. Not a chance on this earth would I willingly subject myself to that. I almost shocked myself when my fingers typed out the happy response, “that sounds fab!”
Um. pardon me?
Through the past few years I’ve struggled with an eating disorder. I battle an obsession with food that, at times, can be all-consuming. Daily weigh-ins, crying over eating a cookie when I “couldn’t afford to eat it,” becoming enslaved to counting calories. I’ve lived a life of feeling impeccably average. At times, rather below average. I’m pressed to tell you exactly what led me to develop an eating disorder. I could speculate – perhaps it was the bullying I experienced as a youth, or my experiences living with bipolar disorder. Maybe it was my need for perfection or my complete lack of self-esteem. Be what it may, in my late teens an eating disorder emerged.
So when approached with the prospect of baring it all in a bikini for a magazine, it would be an understatement to say I was terrified. In fact, I felt almost queasy at the thought of it. My gut reaction was to say a resounding “no.” Yet for some reason, there was that quintessential little voice in the back of my head. You know which one I’m talking about: The voice that turns the smallest of thoughts into a resounding orchestra. What’s that called? My conscience, my gut, my wiser senses – whatever. Call it what you will, that damn little nagging feeling urged me to commit to the swimsuit shoot.
The concept of the shoot was to show beauty of all varieties; we gurls are gorgeous without being a size zero. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and colours. This shoot would be about embracing ourselves for exactly who we are.
Pretty hypocritical for someone with an eating disorder.
With every part of me wanting to scream no, that little voice whispered yes. I needed this. I needed to learn that the size of my clothes does not equate my worth, my beauty, my value to society. The amount of calories I consume does not make me any more or less of a human being. This is something I wanted, I needed.
So I said yes.
The road leading to the shoot was not an easy one. I had to constantly fight the urge to back out. The morning of was nothing less than a nightmare. I got lost, I got stuck in construction. I was THAT girl – you know, the one that breezes in an hour late, and then is too shy to talk to anyone? Yeah, that was me.
I walked into the health club of Hotel Macdonald, and once again, felt that overwhelming feeling to run for the hills. Holy hell, everyone there was beautiful! I sat there awkwardly, fiddling with my phone, feeling too self-conscious to jump into any conversation.
These people around me were captivating. They were gorgeous, funny and welcoming. Slowly, I started to feel a little more comfortable. I began to think less about my weight, and more about the brilliance of the personalities around me. This was beauty.
The rest of the day followed suit. Laughing, chatting, attempting not-too-shabbily to model. My earlier fears began to dissipate, eased by the sheer awesomeness of those around me. I felt like the Grinch, when he starts to think that Christmas is more than just packages, boxes and bags.
I walk away from this experience changed. While I am certainly not cured, I am changed. Slowly, my perceptions are shifting. They are fading from obsession to tendency – perhaps one day to just a blip on my radar. This is the start of my journey.
I ate a cupcake on the way out.
See more photos of the swimwear shoot in Flurt! Magazine’s Summer Issue, available in July on iTunes.