INTO THE WILD: My Story about Body Image

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Written by Jory Mullard, Founder of Project HEAL Vancouver

joryWhen I was a young girl, I failed at things that I thought every normal kid could do. Catch a ball. Kiss. Dance. Stand up for myself. Tell a joke. Understand math. To me, everyone else was awesome at life, and I sucked.

The summer of my 16th birthday, I acquired two wonderful attributes that gave me a new found sense of importance: Breasts. I had grown from an A-cup to a D-cup in just four months, and they were huge on my petite high school frame. People stared.

As people started treating me like I was special because of my body, a new belief began to grow in my mind. Despite “sucking at everything”, I did have some value to offer the world. I could look the way I thought others wanted me to look, and they would like me.

4 years later, this very belief had royally messed me up, and led me to a sobering situation.

I ventured, alone, to a cabin in a remote area 300 kilometers from my town. I was hungry. I had no food. I had no money on me. I failed at lighting a fire, and I was freezing cold. Here, I planned on eating nothing for 7 days, simply because I wanted to be thin. I had spent the past year taking extreme measures to lose weight. Yet, I was only able to deprive myself of food for so long. Eventually I “failed” and ate everything. Every time I failed, I invented a new, more extreme way to lose weight. This ultimately led me “into the wild”. This time I starved myself, it would be fool-proof, because this time I couldn’t eat even if I wanted to. I was miles and miles away from every hot fudge sundae, every piece of pizza, and every sticky sweet cinnamon bun. When I got home, I would be beautiful and I would be worth something.

In the quiet of nature, without TV or friends or work to distract me, I finally saw the dark truth of my life. I, Jory Mullard, had an eating disorder. At 22 years old, I had made it my sole purpose to try to appear perfect so that people would like me. And it was destroying me.

When I came back from my wake-up call in the forest, I started to get help. My body, mind, and soul were sick, and it took over a year to get to a stable place. I saw doctors and naturopaths to help me heal my ravaged body after I had starved it, binge-ate, and made myself throw up for years. I did acupuncture yoga, reiki, and meditation to mend my soul. I saw a counsellor and dealt with the emotional issues that were at the root of my problem. Today, I live a happy life. Most importantly, I no longer believe I “suck at everything.” I think I’m pretty great.

The part of my story that I think is most important is that up until my rock-bottom moment, I didn’t think I had a problem. I thought my obsession with losing weight and looking “perfect” was fairly normal. The majority of my peers were stressed out about their appearance. Adults that I looked up to calorie counted and weighed themselves on a regular basis. Every magazine at the grocery store checkout was boasting the newest fad diet and get-skinny pill.

The truth is, my behaviour wasn’t that far from the norm. That fact alone is a sign of a huge problem in the world today. The following images show statistics that highlight the prevalence of body image issues today. The images are courtesy of graphic designer Danae Harvalias and are excerpted from her book, “Fat.”

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Looking at these statistics, I can see I was never alone in my struggle. There is a lot of emphasis in our society on attaining “the perfect body”, and it doesn’t just affect adults. Studies have shown that children as young as ten are dissatisfied with their bodies and believe they need to lose weight.₁ Eating disorders, as well as a general preoccupation with body image, have become a widespread (although often “kept quiet”) issue in the 20th and 21st centuries.₂

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from an eating disorder: There is hope. You can heal from it. I stand here today, happy and healthy, as living proof that it is possible. However, it’s important to know that recovering from an eating disorder is not a quick fix. I healed, but it wasn’t cheap, fast, or easy. The wait lists in Canada for free treatment are too long and most sufferers must pay out of pocket for help. My family estimates they paid upwards of $15,000 to help me. Many cannot afford this.

That is why I founded a chapter of a non-profit organization called Project HEAL. We fundraise to help people recover from eating disorders. We help by paying for treatment that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Today I am standing up for a problem that often gets swept under the rug. Many people don’t want to talk about self esteem, body image, or eating disorders. However, more and more people are speaking out about these issues. There is a movement on the rise and I can’t help but be a part of it.

The girl inside me that went “into the wild” to starve herself is gone. In her place is a woman who hopes for a world that celebrates who we are on the inside.

Join me in creating that world by loving who you are, and in helping those who don’t love themselves find the way back.

With love always,
Jory
and let it be.HEALTH

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An additional note:
HELP US HELP THOSE WITH EATING DISORDERS

What many people don’t know about eating disorders is that getting help is often a matter of life and death. Project HEAL and I are currently running a fundraiser to help those with eating disorders afford life-saving treatment.

Want to help? Here’s how.

1) DONATE
CLICK HERE to learn more about my fundraiser and donate.

2) PURCHASE HEALTH PRODUCTS 
Biological Botanicals ™ will donate $1 from every purchased bottle of select supplements* until September 30, 2015 towards my fundraiser.
*Biological Botanicals™ Omega3 Extra StrengthVitamin B-complex, and Multivitamin with Minerals 

3) SHARE
Share this post via social media.

Thank you all for your amazing support!

References:
₁ Danae Harvalias, “FAT”, http://dharvalias.businesscatalyst.com/
₂ The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics, and Resources”published September 2002, revised October 2003, http://www.renfrew.org

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