Eating Disorder Awareness Project
This project begun with the ambition of telling inspirational stories through a single image. These pictures act as a form of poetry: a moving project that depicts the devastating realities of eating disorders, whilst working to eliminate any associated stigmas. Every individual is different, and eating disorders are no exception to this trend. The visual imagery in each picture is unique to the models personal experiences. The framing of the white background illustrates the correlation between the stories, a clinical setting representing difficulties in overcoming eating disorders. I feel so honoured to have worked with these five incredible people, each of whom has taught me so much. I really hope this post continues to remove the stigma associated with eating disorders and spreads awareness that recovery is possible, and you are worthy of recovering!
I was 13 years old when my ED driven thoughts became apparent. I definitely struggled with self acceptance and eating was something I didn’t feel like I deserved. Over time things got progressively worse and resulted in being admitted to an eating disorder unit straight after being discharged from general hospital. I spent 8 long months in the unit which was a really tough and dark time in my life, although I will never forget the people I met and the fact that it has shaped me into the person I am today. This picture was not necessarily about putting my whole story into a photo as it would be impossible to portray what I went through in a single image. Instead we included small details that stood out. I was once called “tree trunk legs” at school. The tree symbolises this detrimental time in my life as well as the woodlands which surround the ED unit. I was allowed to go on 10 minute walks a day, and also read to keep me busy during my recovery. I am so much happier now, and although I look back at my time in hospital as dark, I appreciate everything I went through as I wouldn’t be half the strong person I am today who has learnt to accept and love herself if it wasn’t for all that I have overcome.
By Ellie Kosky
From a young age I always felt as though I wasn’t enough. I would look at the unattainable beauty standards being portrayed on TV shows, movies and, as I got older, on social media. It created a toxic ideal that I placed my self worth on. The media imply that if you didn’t have attention, you didn’t have value. I became obsessed with just losing ‘this much more’ at 8 years old. I didn’t feel adequate or important because I didn’t look ‘right’ so in turn avoided pictures and people due to the shame I carried with me for not fitting the mould. I learnt to place my self worth in how I look and how I thought others valued me, believed that by weighing less, I would be worth more. There in-lied my unhealthy relationship with food and what I felt I deserved. I had convinced myself that if I control my diet I could control how others viewed me. Being privileged enough to look back at my worst times has taught me that value is placed by me and that by going through my journey I am learning to accept myself and take the bad days with the good. I have learnt to love the pieces that don’t fit the mould, they make me who I am and have shown me that I am deserving of health and happiness, even through food.
By Saskia Manzi
Comparison really is the thief of joy,
But no one is perfect? You’re not a toy!
My eating disorder stemmed from only seeing my faults,
My mind was in negative nelly mode, it was just my default.
Prom 2016. so naive and young,
But sadly that’s when my anorexia, really begun.
Cutting out foods daily, so I could just shrink,
It wasn’t happening fast enough! I wanted to look perfect, just in a blink.
I would look in the mirror, and punish every part,
It was my tummy I focused on first, that was where I would start.
Everyone around me, I believed to have it all,
I really thought, I was the only one who would look, embarrassing at the ball.
But how boring is that! To think it that way?!
There are so much more interesting things, to think and to say!
What’s the point in punishing you mind, day in and day out?
Why compare yourself to an Instagram square, just a filtered pout?
As I have grown older, I am so glad to have worked on my comparison the thief,
As although it’s not always sunshine’s and rainbows, I don’t want my head causing beef!
Life really isn’t about your appearance and how much you weigh,
But rather the love and kindness you give/receive, and the words that you say
By Liv Baxter
I always struggled with disordered eating in a way but I mostly started struggling with purging at 13 and binge eating disorder at 14. I had just moved school, was under a lot of stress, struggling with my mental health and was going through sexual abuse. Overall i was going through a lot in my life and eating was a way to comfort myself, but it slowly took control and isolated me. My room was where I mostly was, besides school. This image represents how I felt ‘controlled’ by something, most of the time it didn’t feel like it was me, it felt very forced. I also used to stockpile a lot of food in my room, I felt very embarrassed and so I would hide a lot of it. Later on I struggled with laxative abuse when I started eating better, which caused me to have issues with my digestive system, even to this day. I can proudly say I am 6 years clean. To this day I still struggle with binge eating disorder however I am now in a way better place, physically and mentally. I want people to be aware that less spoken about eating disorders exist, and are just as hard to live with. Eating disorders don’t fit one mould, anyone can struggle, but anyone struggling can also beat this!
By Ellie Greenfield
I will never be able to pinpoint what solely caused my eating disorder but to this day my need for control and my perfectionist nature are definitely factors that impacted it. For me it was nothing about losing weight or the fear of gaining it - that came after I was diagnosed with anorexia. My problem was everything had to be perfect all the time - not my appearance but my life. When things went wrong and I felt out of control, I instantly held onto the only thing I was able to control - food! It then spiralled totally out of control where I completely got caught up and gave up on being perfect and lost care for anything other than the illness. It was as if I didn’t care if life wasn’t perfect (because life with an eating disorder is quite the opposite) but more that I was the perfect ‘anorexic.’ The Mad Hatters Tea Party plays on the idea of perfectionism and control. The table laid out ‘perfectly’, the scales representing the control of weighing out the food, and the ‘eat me’ and ‘drink me’ signs showing the temptation of giving in to my eating disorder. It’s been almost 4 years of struggling to get to where I am today where I finally look in the mirror and recognise myself! That doesn’t mean that everyday is challenging at times. I now know that recovery is certainty not linear - but it IS possible
By Olivia Marcus
Body Positivity Project
Liv, Evie, and I created this project on 20/07/2020. Our goal from the start was to promote and spread so much needed body positivity. Please feel free to checkout the link below which is an article written by the amazing Summer Goodkind, explaining all in more detail. I hope you feel as empowered looking through some of the pictures as I did taking them.