Weight and body image were a constant worry to Jasmin Underwood.
This 29 years old Melbournian worried about how she looked in a bikini and took precautions to ensure that she had the “perfect” look. After all, our ideal weight is the healthy weight, right?
Well, not when it starts to consume your whole life. And that’s what happened to Underwood.
While she was constantly being praised for looking fit, beautiful, and healthy on the outside, her emotional health was in tatters. Jasmin was skipping meals, making herself throw up, and spending her days in mental and emotional agony, all for the sake of attaining what modern society considers the perfect body.
“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. A consensus about what drives these dangerous (even deadly) disorders has not been reached in either medical science nor society.
Many people blame the barrage of unfair and unrealistic beauty standards women live with since childhood, coupled with the intense pressure to excel and the pressures of everyday life.
For Underwood, her eating disorders nearly proved to be fatal. While at her lowest ebb, she even contemplated suicide.
Luckily, she got the help she desperately needed, and today, she’s finally at ease in her own body. She also wants to send out a powerful message to women around the globe.
Before and after weight loss photos are everywhere nowadays, but in Jasmin Underwood’s case, the was 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.”