Last week, my favourite clothing company Pinup Girl Clothing posted about a new competition on their Instagram. Customers can upload a before and after they found PUG and how it’s changed their life. There are 15 incredible prizes to celebrate 15 years of being in business and I jumped at the chance to enter! You can see all the details on the competition here, there’s still a week left to enter!
The competition has come with uncanny timing. I’ve been thinking a lot about my past difficulties with my body recently and touched upon it in during the Miss Pinup New Zealand Competition (4.30min in this video).
I am also in the process of organising a Body Confidence Seminar with Rita Sue Clothing and Janelle Fletcher, something I’ve thought about for many months and am excited for it to be finally be happening!
Anyway, as well as all of that, I’ve been meaning to write a blog sharing my story. A few years ago I wrote a blog post on pinupgirlstyle.com which was the first time I’d really opened up about it. If you have seen my entry to the Pinup Girl Clothing Competition, you’ll have a overview of what I went through but I’d like to share my story with a little bit more detail. Eating disorders can be incredibly isolating so I hope my experiences can help someone going through something similar.
As a kid, I never cared what anyone thought of me. I was a total free spirit and would wear the most outrageous outfits to school like leotards, Cinderella costumes and even had my mum sew a little toy bird to the shoulder of one of my tops so I could be a pirate… I LOVED playing dress up!
Then High School and puberty hit. I was 11 when I started going through puberty- pimples, boobs and hips all came so quickly. Up until then I had been a tall, skinny rake so I now felt so ugly. Everyone would always say that I looked years older than my actual age and because of this, I got lewd attention from grotty old men from age 11-12 when I was walking to the school bus stop. It would really upset me and made me quite distrustful of boys.
I remember these first few years of high school being kinda rough- there were so many catty fights within friendships and so much emphasis on being cool and fashionable. I got sucked in and tried so hard to conform to the social pressures!
When I was 16, I met my now husband Matt. By this time I had a little bit more confidence and had lost some of my baby weight but at first I didn’t believe him when he told me I was beautiful. His unwavering love for me and for my body helped me to look twice at myself and say ‘am I really as ugly as I think I am?’
After high school, I started at University doing a Bachelor of Arts but after the first semester I decided it wasn’t for me and started working in retail. I put on weight during this time because I would buy my lunch every day from the food court and there weren’t many healthy choices! I started to feel ugly and unhappy again and could see the weight piling on so I decided to join a gym.
It all started off great, I had a good balance of healthy eating but still allowing treats. After 6 months, I’d lost 10kgs and felt pretty amazing but I still wanted to be skinnier. I started running and decided to sign up for the Auckland Half Marathon. This was the start of the downhill slope! I started to get more and more obsessed with being skinny so I cut what I was eating WAY down. It got worse and worse until I was running around 40km a week (plus strength training) and only eating 500-800 calories a day. Most days I would only have carbs for breakfast then have salads for lunch and dinner. This is not nearly nutritious enough for someone exercising as much as I was.
By now I was very slim (total weight loss close to 20kgs) but I looked like crap. I was cold and tired all the time, my hair was falling out, my nails were weak and my skin looked gaunt and translucent. After a few months I started to crack. With all the exercise, my body NEEDED carbs so I started to binge.
I hated, hated, HATED myself when this happened! I was so obsessed with calories in/calories out, I kept a diary where I wrote down everything I ate, how many calories I burned during a workout according to my heart rate monitor and how I was feeling.
I started to withdraw into myself. Dinner with friends was a terrifying idea (what would be on the menu that was healthy?!) and if I ate just a tiny bit more of something than ‘allowed’ it would completely ruin my day. The self-loathing at this point was so poisonous. I think my family and friends knew something wasn’t right but I kept it pretty well hidden.
When I think back and try to figure out what triggered everything, I think it was that at that time of my life things were a little up in the air. My parents had recently separated, my mum had a brain bleed and needed 3 brain surgeries and I was starting at hairdressing school. So many big changes and stress that perhaps I need control over something.
As the binging got worse, I started to make myself sick. This only went on for a couple of weeks before I realised that everything had gone too far and told my mum what was happening. She was amazing, the next day we were at the doctors and had appointments set up with a counsellor and nutritionist. I found the nutritionist the most helpful since I am someone who likes to know the facts. She taught me about sports nutrition so that I could keep training for the half marathon. It took a while for me to accept that carbs were ok and that my body needed them, especially before going for a long run. My trainer at the gym Sheree was also so so helpful and I embraced it all and kept training. Unfortunately I was unable to do the event due to a chest infection that didn’t clear up in time. It was disappointing but one of my training runs had been only 1km off the full half marathon so I felt like I still had achieved my goal.
After that, I decided to take a break from the gym and try to enjoy life and food again. I focused on trying to love my body the way it is and not be constantly waging war on it. It was a few months after this resolution that I decided to do a order from Pinup Girl Clothing. I’d found them a year or two beforehand but didn’t have to confidence to make a order. My love for the retro styling had always been there but since I am such a ‘all or nothing’ person, I wanted to be able to totally immerse myself in it! I used my paycheck from my first week full-time at work out of hairdressing school to make a order- 5 outfits so I had enough for a working week! I didn’t go back to ‘normal’ clothes except for the occasional jeans and a tee on my days off. I was totally hooked!
For once I felt like clothes were made for my hourglass shape and I wasn’t trying to fit into a mould that was never going to suit me! This first order from Pinup Girl Clothing and all the subsequent ones were what helped take the final step in body acceptance and find confidence from within. I don’t think I have had a fat day since and that sad, obsessive Ella seems like a lifetime ago. I would never have thought that I would be doing what I do now or had the courage to enter Miss Pinup New Zealand.
I cannot truly express the empowering feeling of going through something so dark it feels like there will never be light at the end of the tunnel … and to not only emerge but to feel like the brightest star in the galaxy…. that is what Pinup Girl Clothing made me feel like!
I’m sorry this is such a novel but it’s a incredibly personal experience and a huge part of what has shaped me to how who I am today so I can’t help but want to explain it all. Whilst it was a awful thing to go though, I consider myself lucky in some ways. So many girls go through so much worse! I wouldn’t change anything as I wouldn’t be who I am today.
x Miss Victory Violet
I would also like to mention a special group of ladies on Facebook, the Darling Dames, who are endlessly supportive, positive and beautiful on the inside and out x
Categories: Body Confidence