health

Recovering Anorexic Snaps Photo Of Her ‘Soft Belly Rolls’ After Going Up 3 Sizes

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Like a lot of women, Jasmin Underwood, 29, of Melbourne, Australia, worried about her weight and her appearance.

She worried about how she looked in a bikini and took precautions to ensure that she had the “perfect” look. After all, watching your weight is healthy, right?

Well, not when it starts to consume your whole life. And that’s what started happening to Underwood.

While she was praised for looking fit, beautiful, and healthy on the outside, she was crumbling on the inside. Underwood was skipping meals, making herself throw up, and spending her days in mental and emotional agony, all for the sake of her appearance.

And that’s no way to live.

“For over eight years, there have been a vast array of varying states of hell I have resided in,” she wrote on Facebook recently, “commonly referred to as: bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and eventually depression.”

Eating disorders plague up to 8 percent of women in developed countries, and about 0.8 percent of men. There are many factors that lead to these mental disorders, and both medical professionals and society at large are still figuring out what drives these dangerous (and even deadly) disorders.

Many people blame the unfair and unrealistic beauty standards women get bombarded with from an early age, coupled with the intense pressure to excel and the stresses women face every day.

For Underwood, her eating disorders nearly proved to be just that. While at her lowest, she even contemplated taking her own life.

Luckily, she got the help she needed, and today, she’s finally at ease in her own body. She also now has a powerful message to send to women everywhere.

[H/T: Daily Mail]

We’re used to seeing before and after photos where people lose weight, but in Jasmin Underwood’s case, it’s the opposite — and it probably saved her life.

She posted these photos to Facebook to talk about her struggle with eating disorders.

Here it is, my eating disorder recovery in a before and after photo.  

The photo on the left was taken during the height of my illness, approximately 60kgs [about 132 lbs.] at 5’10.

I’ve been told by countless people how “stunning,” “amazing,” “beautiful,” “sexy” and “healthy” I was in this state.  

I had constant expressions of interest from men everywhere, especially after posting a photo shoot on social media. I had an “ideal body,” some might say.

“How do you look like this? What’s your secret?” people would ask me hopefully. I looked at them with a fake smile, thinly veiling my intense sadness.

The more relevant question is, “At what cost do you look like this?

And here is where you need to pay attention: I was utterly miserable, at this time even thinking about taking my own life —that was my cost for looking like this.

I was obsessed with my weight and food; my life literally revolved around it.

When I wasn’t starving myself, binging, purging or avoiding my feelings in other unhealthy ways, there would be a black hole of space in between these episodes where I would try to physically and emotionally recover from my behaviors, before feeling like there was no option but to return to them.

The most vicious cycle of addiction I’ve known.

On the right was a few days ago.

I intentionally wanted to highlight my deliciously soft belly rolls, that have grown as I have nourished my body back to health, allowing natural and intuitive eating. I allow freedom with food in my life now.

And I can tell you it’s like heaven.

So after years and years of trying to get well, in the last 12 months after a LOT of work, I have finally been able to successfully nourish myself physically and psychologically back to health, knowing I had to accept whatever my body gave me as a result of balanced nutrition.

My metabolism will take time to return to normal, my weight will fluctuate, I don’t weigh myself anymore — who needs to equate themselves to a number they will inherently never like?

I do know I went up 3 sizes in clothes. It was hard, it still is sometimes. But not as hard as living with an eating disorder.

The conviction I have for getting well and inspiring others to love themselves is stronger. I have one body, and I intend to love it just as it is.

She also added a note to any potential trolls.

For those of you who want to tell me I looked better on the left, you are misinformed about the notion of health and wellness in recovery from eating disorders and your comments are unwanted.

Today, Underwood is living in recovery and hoping to inspire others to love and care for their bodies, and to raise awareness about eating disorders and the damaging messages that girls and young women get from the media and from society.

In the meantime, she loves taking her therapy dog, Lucy, to the local retirement home.

Her Facebook post was shared some 600 times and gathered support from women all over the world, many of who had also struggled with body-image issues.

Eating disorders are serious health concerns. If you think you or someone you know may struggle with one, check out the National Eating Disorders Association website and contact their help line.

And SHARE this powerful message of self love and self acceptance with everyone you know and love.