Interview 20 of 52: "Rising above negative self image"

I am excited and slightly terrified to write this week’s interview. Why? Well because this is the first interview where I didn’t actually SPEAK to the person I’m featuring.  I asked Jess to be a part of the series and she said yes!  As we picked a time to get on the phone I realized she was not just out of my time zone...she was on the other side of the world!  Jess lives in Australia and so we decided to do it over email.  I sent her my questions and she typed out her answers.  My hope is that I do her story justice and her heart comes through!

I started following Jess because she looked like a fun loving, social butterfly who kicked butt in the gym and had a passion for spreading a body positive message.  What I learned from her response is that she is all of those things and her body positive message comes from such a deep place.  Jess is a recovering Bulimic and girl who was obsessed with body image.  She’d been been diagnosed with a body dysmorphia and was teased relentlessly as a child about her body.  Having gone through that, her passion now lies in helping others rise above the negative self image of social media and combat eating disorders.

I truly applaud Jess for this.  It's bold and necessary.  You know, if you look at Jess's feed she is a beautiful, fit, confident woman. I think to often we categorize these images and say things like "oh it's easy for her" or "ugh her body is perfect."  By doing so we don't acknowledge their journey and what it took for that person to get to where they are.  Social media is awesome for so many reasons but it can distort the way we view our own progress and we can feel defeated before we even begin.  Having more voices speak on the struggle, the journey and the process as opposed to glorifying the image alone, I believe we will be a more compassionate and healthy society.  In doing so we will remove some of the pressure of having to achieve someone else's results over night and give ourselves credit for simply beginning our journey. 

Jess has been a personal trainer for a few years and it took some time to get on her feet.  She shared with me how she has struggled with not feeling physically “good enough,” “strong enough,” definitely not "skinny enough."  I totally related to her.  When I first became a trainer it was to heal myself from my own eating disorder and body dysmorphia.  I figured if I could teach it to others I would have to be the role model and by teaching I would learn myself.  While that definitely happened over time and I am so grateful it did, I was constantly in that comparison complex mindset.  I would analyze my body compared to the others in the gym and let my past disorder creep in making me feel small and “not enough” like Jess says.  

Jess shared that her eating disorder weakened her for a few months this past year but she was able to turn it around.  She put herself through it again and by going through it and coming out on the other side she is now stronger, more empowered and more empathetic to herself.  “I’m not as hard on myself as I used to be and my body is accepting all of this.  I’m actually the happiest I've ever been with the physical shape of my body” she shared.  

One of my questions asked where she continues to still struggle and what her self limiting beliefs looked like?  She shared that it all comes down to confidence.  “I am the most confident / unconfident person” she said.  Reading her description of being a talker, laughing and smiling all the time but as soon as she is put in front of people she loses her nerve and feels ill.  She runs through all the ways others are “judging her” (or what she manufactures in her head) when in reality it’s not even a thought for them.  They are probably looking at her as I do with admiration and respect!  

I think we will always be in a growing relationship with confidence.  The stories from our past and the experiences along our journeys have shaped the “truths” we’ve created about ourselves.  Those truths either build up or tear down our confidence.   It’s up to us to do everything we can to nurture our confidence.  A big reason I wanted to do this blog series is this ebbs and flows we have with confidence as women.  In large part it has to do with what we THINK people are “thinking” about us.  When in fact it doesn’t even cross their minds.  But through this series I wanted to add one more brick to build their confidence.  I think the stronger we are as women FOR women the faster we can break this pattern in younger generations.  If we can all be brick layers for each other we will create pillars of strength within our communities.

Jess is still working on removing self judgement, treating herself kindly with food and exercise and working up to her goals of public speaking.  Her story and experiences will help so many young girls and it is her goal to one day speak to large groups of girls on the negative self image of social media and eating disorders.  She’s getting out of her comfort zone so she can serve those who need to hear from her.   

Today Jess loves life and lives it to the fullest. She is in the midst of yoga teacher training and diving deep into personal development.  She knows these practices and teachings will be vital in helping others find peace in their lives and achieve their full potential.  She has a drive and fire in her belly to serve.  Her email to me was littered with big dreams of the people she wanted to help.  I could feel the heart behind her words and I don’t doubt that Jess will be living this life very soon.  

I asked her to share her top tips with you.  To share what keeps her fire going. Here is what she said: 

1. Healthy mind, healthy life!!! I cannot stress this enough!! So important to think great nourishing and positive thoughts.

2. The law of attraction works. Think, Believe, Achieve.

3. Never miss leg day! :)

4. Something is better than nothing. Even if its taking the long way home, not getting chips with your chicken or buying water instead of a juice or coke. Be mindful and remember a start is still and always will be a start.  You will only feel better than the first day you started.

It didn’t matter that I had never spoken to Jess or heard her voice...I could feel her heart through her words.  She is truly a beautiful soul and I am grateful she took the time to be a part of this series.  As a recovered anorexic myself, her message spoke to me and I know it is vitally important to talk more about this.  I hope Jess’s message of growth, continued self development and the courage to take action resonates with you!  

xo
Becky

Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 20th interview of 52 inspiring women!  Please feel free to share your comments, feelings and send this to a friend you think would benefit from reading this!  If you want me to interview someone you find incredibly inspiring, I would be truly honored to meet them!  This is a journey that has no parameters or rules!  Let's have fun with it and continue to spread the message of empowerment, love and kindness - to ourselves and others.  

You can follow Jess on Instagram at @Jessie.tbf