Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a text to get you excited about getting fit for beach 2015. It’s a text about something that is very important to me, something that I want to make clear to all of you out there who follow me. I find it hard to properly put into words, and most of the time I just want to shout that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL, JUST THE WAY WE ARE. But since this subject goes way deeper than that, I will give it a try to at least tell you my side of it all.
Most of you are young females, but this text is directed to anyone who reads, female, male or anything in between. We all have our own bodies and we are all affected by the ideal body images that constantly surrounds us in today’s society.
This is a text about just that, along with a series of photos of me and my body, just as it is, without any retouching.
To begin with, I will explain how I started getting the wrong idea of my body.
I grew up in a family with a big passion for food, both what is considered healthy and unhealthy. As a child I was naturally skinny and very active, with a high digestive system. Therefore I had a bigger appetite than anyone I knew and could easily eat like a full grown man. I loved everything that had to do with food and tried pretty much anything without complaining.
When I was 15 years old, I joined a model agency in Sweden. Summer had just started and my agency told me that if I lost a certain amount of centimeters around my hips, they would send me to Milan for a month of modelling. Before this I had never really thought about my body, if I was too big or too small. Of course I had realized that I was starting to get a bit more curvy and womanly, but my body was my body, and I was just the way I was.
Suddenly I was on the treadmill everyday with the mission to burn off the tiny amount of fat I had, and had received a dieting-list from my agency of things I was aloud to eat. Two egg whites for breakfast, as an example. In two months I lost 10 centimeters around my hips and was shipped off to Milan.
I could probably write a whole book about how the two following years were determined and controlled by my agency and my carrier as a model. Those two years I was completely manipulated into thinking that I wasn’t okay the way I was.
My family and friends were getting worried about how thin I was, but I kept denying to myself and everyone around me that something was wrong.
For now, I won’t go too deep into how bad it got. But I can say this; quitting modelling was the best decision I ever made. In the spring of 2012 I had turned 17, and deep within I was getting really sick of forcing myself to work out and constantly feeling guilty about eating. But my agency had promised me that they would send me to New York that summer if I lost weight again, so I kept going.
I can’t say exactly when, but at some point during that spring, something snapped in me. It was like waking up from a really bad dream with the feeling of ”what the hell am I doing?!” and the realization that I’m worth so much more than this. I went to my agency and told them that I was done with modelling. The response I got from them was something like ”You will regret this for the rest of your life” which ironically enough is the most untrue thing anyone has ever said to me.
I was finally free as a bird and felt lighter than ever, without any help from treadmills or egg whites. Though, after quitting there was still at least half a year of struggling and adapting to the new me. My revenge to the whole modelling industry was to eat as much and as unhealthy as I wanted, and I ended up gaining 15 kilos that summer.
At last, I realized that overeating wasn’t the way to go either. The word ”balance” became very important to me at this time and my whole perception of health changed. This is what I want to share with you all. That it doesn’t have to be black and white.
Balance can of course be something very hard to achieve. I gain some weight, I loose some, which for me is just a natural thing. Sometimes my body needs more fuel, like when I’m having my period, or in the winter when I have less energy (or when I’m having mum’s amazing home made food) And sometimes I’m just more energetic and driven which makes me more active and willing to move my body.
Rather than forcing myself, I try to listen to my body and give it what it needs in the moment. Whether that means Ben&Jerry’s on the couch, or a yoga session. Do research about what type of food suits your body type, not about what the Victoria’s secret models eat to stay skinny.
There are still things I would like to change with my body, for example to get stronger. This doesn’t mean bodybuilding or spending every day at the gym. But to move my body when it really wants to move. To be active and work out because it gives me energy, makes me less stressed and puts me in a good mood. When living a stressed life in a big city with no close connection to nature, I find it especially necessary to just get out there and move your body when needed, even if it can be a challenge.
Include it in your routine instead of forcing it, otherwise you will get sick of it and end up getting a bad view on being active.
After I quit modelling I experienced a lot of issues with staying active. It was as if my body just shut down after two years of underweight and forced workouts. Moving my body had become a negative thought in my mind, highly connected to anxiety. Because of this, the first time I tried to get back to running in the forest I had a panic attack after 30 seconds and went straight back home. It took me several attempts and support from my friends until I could get back to being active with a natural mindset.
It still really amazes me how quickly and easily my image of myself was manipulated, during those years as a model. My mind was contradicting itself. In one way I wanted to keep loosing weight so badly, to get a bigger gap between my thighs and a flatter stomach. But on the other hand, I also hated the way I looked without clothes on. I never felt sexy, because what I saw in the mirror wasn’t a young woman’s figure. It wasn’t the way I was made to be.
A body shouldn’t be messed with in unnatural ways, that’s why I’m now treating mine with much more respect than before, letting it be as it is, improving it only in natural ways that makes it easier for it to exist on this planet. Staying active, being out in the sun and nature, eating healthy food, getting enough rest, working on stress relief, staying hydrated, you name it.
For this article I decided to work together with the young underwear brand The Nude label. They are trying use a more natural and versatile body type to show their pieces, which I really appreciate. I would of course prefer to see even more diversity when it comes to sizes, shapes and ethnicity, but I still think The Nude label are on a good way. They have taken a baby step from the usual underwear commercials we see everyday, where the models have unobtainable bodies that most of us can and will never have.
Quoted from The Nude label ”We really support the idea that the skinny image of models and body as perfection has to change and we defend the importance of a healthy body image. It is necessary for fashion brands to change this concept and to educate both young girls and women.
We believe each body is beautiful as it is, natural, with its imperfections and characteristics. That is what makes us different and unique. We want women to feel comfortable in their skin, that’s why we make soft and comfortable undies. Our pieces are created to enhance the natural body shape, with comfort and a second skin feeling. ”
As always, it’s easy to criticize on a topic like this. Some might think that I’m still too thin to be representing a natural body type. That only people with bigger body types are aloud to have an opinion about all of this. Yet from some point of views, I’m still called ”big” or ”curvy” or ”mom-body”. It can actually be really confusing for me to listen to what people have to say about my body.
But it all comes down to this: I’s my own body and no one else’s, I’m built this way, there’s nothing I can do about it except enjoy it, and no matter what type of body I have, I will always stand by that we are good the way we are.
A few pointers on this text. This is not me saying that modelling is terrible for everyone. There’s always two sides to the story, but this is from my experience and my point of view. I also can’t say that my way is the right way for everyone, because we all work in such different ways. But if this text can get you remotely on the right path, or change your way of seeing things to the better, or even if it’s just putting you in a more relaxed mood, I’m happy I could help.
There’s something very healing about sharing your views and life experience. To take something bad from the past, sharing it with the world and then turning it into something positive. It shouldn’t be a cliche to let you know that your body is beautiful as it is. To realize that accepting yourself will give you so much more happiness than constantly trying to change.
To look into the mirror and realize how freaking cool it is that you actually have a totally unique body with its own funny little shapes, reminding you that despite what you have experienced in life so far, your body is still there with you, keeping you alive and making it possible for you to live your life. We need to let each other know these things as much as we can, and hopefully the fashion and media industry along with the rest of the world will eventually go towards a more natural and healthy body type.
Shot by Stefan Dotter