This one, by Jen Spurr really resonated with me. Having had a very up and down relationship with my own body for most of my life, I’m now in a good place but as Jen explains, it’s taken an awful lot of work to get there. 

Jen can’t remember a time when she didn’t have BDD, she says there had always been obsessions with weight, appearance and exercise, and she was only able to start healing when she became a mum. Although it didn’t happen immediately, she just knew she didn’t want to pass these feelings onto her daughters, she wanted to break the cycle. 


  • I remember getting on the scales at my nana’s house, I weighed 5 stone.  I said to myself, “I want to weigh less when we leave here in two weeks.”

  • I was about seven years old.  Maybe eight.

  • Which is painfully young to already feel like that.

  • My mum and nana were always on a diet. They criticised how they looked, the size they were and how much they weighed.

  • Hearing them talk about diets are some of my earliest memories.

  • Over the years that followed I developed disordered eating.

  • And punishing exercise was my go-to coping method whenever stuff got hard.

  • I knew I had to be thin and fit; because I couldn’t do anything about my face.

  • Wow. Just writing that down and reading it, it’s brutal. I was brutal. But it’s what I thought.

  • I’d never speak to anyone else so harshly, but I’d repeatedly say stuff like that to myself.

  • I was living with a bully.

  • One I couldn’t get away from.

  • I thought I was just really insecure.

  • But it turns out, I have something called Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD).

  • It’s a mental health condition where you spend a lot of time worrying about your appearance.

  • Which on first read sounds like something that many people, if not everyone, would resonate with at one time or another.

  • And probably resonate with even more people after 18 months of lockdowns!

  • But BDD goes further than just worrying about your appearance.

  • It’s worrying about very specific parts of your body. ‘Flaws’ that perhaps other people are unlikely to even notice.

  • For me it’s my nose, my eyes (well eyelids to be super specific!), my wonky face, my fat hips and tummy.

  • I hated them.

  • BDD can stop people living day to day life. Self-criticism paralysing them into inaction.

  • But luckily my go-to stress manager was punishing regimens! So, it didn’t stop me achieving a lot.

  • From the outside, I had everything.

  • Great career, lots of friends, attractive boyfriends.

  • I really had it together.

  • So, I certainly would never speak to anyone about how I felt.

  • Instead, I managed my feelings by developing funny little coping strategies.

  • I turned my face away when I walked past people so they couldn’t see my profile.

  • I didn’t look at myself in the mirror.

  • Well, I could look at myself in a mirror to do my make-up and check my outfit really quickly.

  • But if I caught myself when I wasn’t prepared for it, whether that’s in a mirror or my reflection in a window, I’d freak out.

  • I almost shuddered with revulsion.

  • I remember my therapist saying to me that she thought I had BDD. She said, “One of the signs of it is that you don’t see your body as it actually is.”

  • And I thought, “Oh that doesn’t apply to me then – I actually am all the things I think!”

  • It honestly messes with your head.

  • I am not sure how I got BDD.

  • I have read it’s linked to genetics, chemical changes in the brain, traumatic past experiences.

  • It’s always just been here with me.

  • I can’t remember a time I didn’t think I needed to change something about how I looked.

  • My mum has always had such a critical voice to herself, especially how she looked.

  • My nana has this too.

  • So, I guess I learned that was how women spoke to themselves?

  • I feel uncomfortable writing that, it sounds like I’m blaming them.

  • I can see now that they didn’t want me to change. These were just the critical inner voices they had towards themselves.

  • But as kids we absorb it all.

  • I also grew up in the 90s and 00s. A time when the media was prolific on shaming women’s bodies just for looking ‘normal.’

  • “Pamela Anderson has cellulite – stop the press!”

  • Just awful.

  • It was a time when to ‘love yourself’ was an insult.

  • And the diet industry was booming – Weight Watchers, Atkins, Keto.

  • At school, my friends dieted and worried about how they looked too.  But I just seemed to take it to a whole new level.

  • Obsessive dieting and exercise became my normal, for most of my life.

  • Until I became a mum.

  • Becoming a mum was the best thing for healing.

  • Well, it made it worse, then better, then worse, then better again.

  • It took me a long time to get pregnant, and then I suffered multiple miscarriages.

  • I lost all trust in my body, I felt it was failing me every month.

  • And failing me on something that was ‘supposed’ to be so natural.  How could my body not get pregnant?  Or stay pregnant? What was wrong with it?

  • Eventually after a lot of medical support, I got pregnant and stayed pregnant with my daughter.

  • Being pregnant with her was a really healing experience, I was so amazed by what my body was doing.  I grew an actual human inside me!

  • But then after giving birth, the body dysmorphia got worse.  It was so hard dealing with my feelings about my postpartum body.

  • I’d put a lot of weight on trying to conceive and then when I was pregnant.

  • My post-natal body felt so alien to me.

  • Obviously, I threw myself into what I was excellent at.

  • A nice strict diet and lots of over-exercising.

  • I lost all the weight and then some before I got pregnant again with my second daughter eight months later.

  • After she was born was when I truly started on my healing journey.

  • With two daughters, I wanted to heal myself for them.  I had to. They were my catalyst.

  • I couldn’t bear the thought of passing this onto my gorgeous girls. For them to feel, for even a single moment, the way that I did.

  • Whether that was body dysmorphia or disordered eating.  Or a highly critical inner voice and self-doubt.

  • They gave me what I needed to save myself from myself.

  • Also, I couldn’t bear the thought that I would miss out on life with them.

  • I wanted to feel comfortable in a swimsuit so I can take them to the beach and go swimming.

  • I wanted to see photos of us together and not delete them because I hate the angle or I think I look fat.

  • So, it was my responsibility to heal this – for me yes, but most importantly for my girls.

  • More than anything I want them to be filled with self-belief and to truly love themselves.

  • The way that I love them and can see that they are perfect, just the way they are.

  • So, I read a lot of books.

  • I did courses.

  • I tried a lot of stuff.

  • But it was therapy and coaching that were pivotal in my recovery.

  • It took years to really get to the bottom of how I was feeling and why.

  • Therapy and coaching helped me to understand that how I was feeling had a name. I wasn’t alone.

  • It helped me to reconnect with myself.

  • It helped me strip back all the noise.

  • It helped me disconnect from everyone’s expectations. Including my own.

  • These are the things that really helped me:

  • I threw away the scales.

  • I started practicing gratitude.

  • Every day before bed I write down five things I’m grateful for, specifically about that day.

  • For a long time, I also wrote five things about my body I was grateful for.

  • “For growing my baby girls.”

  • “My strong legs that enable me to run and play with the girls.”

  • “The way my smile makes my husband always smile back at me.”

  • You get the idea.

  • This was brilliant for helping me appreciate my body for what it does.

  • And making this a daily practice was really helpful in making the long-term shift.

  • Self-compassion was the next big thing for me.

  • I hadn’t really noticed how judgey and bitchy my inner voice was before I started this work.

  • As soon as I became aware of this in coaching, I started noticing how frequently I was speaking to myself in a way I would never dream of talking to anyone else.

  • And the stuff I was thinking about myself wasn’t even true.

  • When I heard about self-compassion, it just made sense to me.

  • I had to learn what self-compassion was.

  • Self-compassion is about accepting yourself as you are. And treating yourself and talking to yourself with kindness.

  • As if you would a close friend. Or a daughter.

  • Now, when I notice how I’m judging and criticising myself, I try and catch it and reframe the thought.

  • The quickest and easiest way I found to access this was to think about how I speak to my girls and how I want them to talk to themselves.

  • Meditation has been super helpful too.

  • So helpful in fact that after a few years I trained as a meditation teacher.

  • It’s one of my daily non-negotiables.

  • It gives me that pause I need to notice my critical inner voice, and then to choose another way of speaking to myself.

  • To silence the bully.

  • It’s my reset, no matter what.

  • Then finally, I learnt intuitive eating.

  • I learned to reconnect with my body and listen to what she wants and needs.

  • If I want the chocolate, I eat the chocolate. And I really enjoyed it.

  • I re-learned how to feel nourished by food.

  • And now when I exercise it is because I want my body to feel good. I want to take care of her and keep her strong and healthy. She has been through a lot.

  • And she’s doing brilliantly.

  • Now, for the first time in forever, I feel free from the negative thoughts about myself.

  • The healing work has been so hard, but so worth it.

  • Using the tools I have learnt from doing my inner-work I feel I am much better equipped to support my girls to build their self-compassion and self-belief.

  • In a world that continues to obsess over the female form, in one way or another.

  • I know I won’t be passing BDD onto the girls.

  • And my inner-work has changed the trajectory of my life. And theirs.

  • And it helped me find a new direction. After almost 20 years I’ve quit corporate life and re-trained as a coach, NLP practitioner and meditation teacher.

  • It gives me so much joy and purpose.

  • Every day I make decisions to create the life I want for myself.

  • I’m kind to myself.

  • I believe in myself

  • And dare I say it, after decades of believing the contrary, I love myself.






** ‘But why is there blood in the toilet?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to preorder now  and also on audiobook.**



–  READ this great list by Harriet, AKA @Tobyandroo about her Battle With Body Positivity and how she is still learning to feel truly at one in her skin.

–  READ Pandora Paloma of Rooted Living’s list about the freedom she now has from disordered eating after discovering intuitive eating and her vocation within it.

–  LISTEN to Alex Light talk Diet Culture on But Why? podcast as she covers body image, disordered eating and how we can move towards greater self-acceptance.

–  LISTEN to model and body positive campaigner Callie Thorpe on Honestly podcast as she shares her journey to body acceptance and why all shapes and sizes should be celebrated.


Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics  are welcome, but we are currently particularly looking for lists on:

–  Internet trolling

–  Prison

–  Pain killer addiction

–  Extremely large families

–  Estrangement

–  Lottery winners

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