May 17, 2023

I need to listen to my own advice

*Trigger warning: This article discusses disordered eating.*

“Your worth is not defined by your weight, or how you look” that’s what we’re all about here at Kic, but in a recent KICPOD episode, I opened up about how I’ve struggled to listen to own my advice.

From a young age, the number one thing that I was praised for was my appearance. I didn’t hate it, in all honesty, I loved it. It was all I knew, and I believed it was all I was known for.

In school, I preferred sports over academics, in fact, I was often called dumb by my peers and told that I wouldn’t go anywhere in life. So what was I do to with myself? Apparently, I’m not smart, and I have nothing else going for me than my looks. So, I became a model.

In the modelling industry, your entire value is based on your appearance. I lived through years of toxic conditioning, if I didn’t lose weight or fit the ‘desirable’ measurements, I wouldn’t get booked for the job. My personality, work ethic and beliefs didn’t matter. It purely came down to the way I looked.

So, I started to pick up binge eating patterns due to restrictive dieting, demonising and avoiding certain food groups, to meet these unrealistic body expectations. I’d punish myself for what I ate on a daily basis. For a really long time I had this huge amount of shame and guilt around it. I treated exercise in a terrible way – it was all about changing my appearance. ‘Health’ was not front of mind. Measurements were.

As I started to come out the other side I knew that I wanted to use my platform to help others from falling into the same toxic trap.

I’m constantly reminding people that we shouldn’t place so much value on the way we look. I do still believe this, and I want to continue to champion this message. However, I’ll admit that for me, this is tough.

No matter how much I want this mindset for myself, it’s really hard to unlearn the words that I’ve been told my entire life. I’ve really tried to hear what I put out there to everyone else. I need to listen to my own advice. I try so hard to fake it til I make it and pretend that I don’t give a sh*t,  but when you rarely hear much else about yourself, it’s hard not to lean into it. Because I worry, what else do I have?

I’m not sharing this because I’m looking for validation in other areas of my life. I know that I work really hard, I’m creative, and I’m a great mum to Harvey. But when it’s been a part of my life for so long it’s really hard to get to a point where I honestly don’t care.

Have you ever felt the need to look a certain way?

No doubt we’ve all had insecurities about the way we look at some stage of our lives. Which is one of the reasons why I wanted to open up about this.

There’s a reason we feel this need to look a certain way. Social media, magazines, advertising and toxic diet culture have collectively conditioned us to strive for ‘the perfect body’ – which spoiler alert, does not exist. We were born comfortable in our skin, not hating our bodies. So, please don’t blame yourself.

Let’s learn to Kic diet culture, together.

It can be really hard to unlearn the toxic wellness rules and beliefs that society has drilled into us. But through Kic we’ve made it our mission to help you cut through the crap, and learn to move and fuel your body for the way it makes you feel.

I know this can be easier said than done, so if this is something you struggle with, you’re not alone, I’m on this journey with you. Some days will be easier than others, but when you hear those negative thoughts creep into the back of your mind, try telling yourself three things you love about yourself – that have nothing to do with your appearance. Being funny, empathetic, passionate, brave, smart, creative, reliable or kind are all traits to be celebrated.

Words Matter

While you’re at it, I encourage you to share the love by messaging a friend and telling them something you appreciate about them. The comments that were made to me when I was young, about not going anywhere, still live in the back of my mind. Remember that words really do matter.

Join our anti diet culture club and start your 7 day free trial with Kic!

Steph Claire Smith