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Hi Steph,

I read somewhere that you work with eating disorders and stuff like that…well I don’t have an eating disorder but I really don’t like my body, like at all. I’m bigger than all my friends, and I’m taller too. We’re going into 5th year now and I know the girls will be starting to hang out with boys but boys will never want to hang out with me and I just know that I’m going to be left behind. It really gets me down – I’ve tried diets but I just end up hungry and annoyed with myself because it doesn’t work. I play sports, but we haven’t been able to train or do anything all over the summer which I really missed…anyway, I don’t even know what I’m asking you but said I’d give it a shot. Thanks.

 

Hey young lady! Thanks for getting in touch! I’m so proud of you for talking about this. It’s a really important issue among young people, and females in particular. Just by sending me your email, you’re going to help a lot of other young gals out there too because there’s some important info in here!

 

So…it’s tricky isn’t it, there’s no denying it. We judge and are judged by how we look. A sad fact of the universe. BUT, fear not! There are lots of little tips and tricks, and things to remember, that will get you feeling good about your body again. You’ve come through, and are still going through, a lot of changes in terms of your body. It’s growing and stretching and changing and getting stronger. It looks different from how it used to look, and it probably looks different from your friends’ bodies too. Here’s the catch: it’s meant to! We are not meant to look the same, how would that even be possible?! 

 

You’re going to have a craving, and a longing, to look like your friends – to A, fit in, but also B, because of society’s beauty ideals. You may find yourself wishing that you were the same as them, particularly the smaller, slimmer, prettier ones – because we’ve all been programmed to believe that that’s what is most beautiful, most valuable, and most admirable. But, we’re in our bodies to do more than just look pretty. I’m going to repeat that, (even though I’m typing and not actually talking!). 

 

You. Are. In. Your. Body. To. Do. More. Than. Just. Look. Pretty.

 

Your body is more than your stomach. Or your thighs. Or your hips. Or your face. Your body encompasses everything physical about you; your ability to see, to hear, to move, to laugh, to breathe. Your ability to lift things, to dance, to read, to run, to swim, to eat. Your ability to think. That’s what your WHOLE body is doing for you, and so much more, day in and day out. We need to start appreciating our bodies for everything that they do for us. Our bodies can help us to accomplish great things. We all have different genetics and different backgrounds, and we’re all here to do different things. 

 

Some people are here to write great books, some are here to play and conquer sports fields, some are here to make scientific discoveries, some are here to make people laugh, some are here to make great music, some are here to climb mountains (literal and metaphorical), some are here to teach, some are here to care for others…the list goes on and on and on. But the point is, we need different bodies to do all of those things. If we were all the same, some of those things wouldn’t get done and the world would be a darker place. You have been gifted with a tall, strong body for many reasons. To play sports, to train and achieve, to think critically and plan ahead, to be a good friend, to live YOUR LIFE.

 

And just a quick word on dieting. Don’t do it. Dieting is so 90’s. It messes up everything, not just your hunger levels, but your hormones, your monthly cycle, your mindset, your gut, your water levels, your vitamin & mineral levels, your heart rate, your blood pressure, and lots more. Eat 3 meals a day, 3 snacks a day, and never go longer than 3 hours without eating. Drink plenty of water, get some exercise daily, and get a good night’s sleep. Dieting makes our bodies panic, and it goes into survival mode. Having a good routine will teach your body to trust you again if you have been dieting.

 

Body image is a much bigger conversation than this but I hope some of these words have helped. Keep in touch with us and we’ll support you through it. It’s not easy, but I know that you’ve got what it takes to see beyond the number on the scales or the label on your jeans. Think of other numbers, like how many matches/games you want to play, or how many training sessions you want to ace, or how many times you’re going to laugh before Christmas, or how many books you’re going to read, or how many beautiful photos you’re going to take on your phone, or how much money you’d like to earn when you’re older. See? There are loads of other numbers to aim towards – we got you girl 😉 

 

If you have been affected by anything mentioned in there article, these are some helpful supports available to you:

BODYWHYS: Online, phone and group support for eating disorders.

SPUN OUT:  This is a one stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.

YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.