My bod. My beautiful, tough armoured, temple.
My shell and shield has been to hell and back in the last seven years. I won’t sugar coat that. It’s not something I voice often. Alas, me not talking about the eventual miracle, with my health returning and physical transformation it’s undergone is giving it a power of guilt that it doesn’t deserve. It deserves to be celebrated. Loudly and brightly. Weight loss is a hard topic, it triggers many. This is not a story of diet culture; this is one of wellness. Bare with me.
For a long time, I had immense strain on my body due to health problems and heavily prescribed medications. I thankfully had learnt to love my body in all sizes before the side effects of weight gain and fluid retention hit. I say thankfully, because fatphobia is fucking real. With all that went on with my health struggles and my unlearning’s of ‘societal standards of beauty’, me being fat during this process had no effect on me. I rocked it. I was known for being a confident fat woman online and off. I absolutely adored it.
Let’s cut to February 2019. The scariest, most haunting time of my life. It’s extremely hard to describe the feeling of knowing your organs will not be able to cope with the amount of enduring strain. A feeling of deep hopelessness, defeat and pure fear bouncing around my numb brain. My body was giving up. I felt it in every cell. I was petrified, even though some of the closest people in my life had no idea. I hid it as much as I could. One morning I woke up and I couldn’t feel any of my limbs, my brain was fried and I was absolutely delirious. This was not a one off sadly.
On this very day I decided to take a massive gamble with my health and come off 18 medications. The Professor’s had never agreed to this idea before, but this one female Professor, who had only seen me once, gave me one look and said “do it”. She saw it in my eyes. The hurt, the sadness, the struggle, the grief, the exhaustion. I had tried over 60 odd medications at high dosages plus multiple therapies actively with little to no relief. Many dead ends. What no one knew at this time is that I had outgrown a neurological chemical imbalance in my brain which I had as a young teen, so now what was slowly killing me in the end, was man made. Prescription medication. I repeat, no one had any idea of this at the time. Awfully hard for any Professor to see. They did their best. I have no resentment for any of the Professors. This should also not discourage anyone taking prescription medication. This was an extremely rare and unique case.
The gamble began. My parents and I having absolutely no idea what was ahead for me. That was the scariest part. The unknown, with only just a smidgen of little light trickling into my heart. Six weeks of the most horrifying withdrawals (I’ve since been told it was the equivalent of coming off a heavy meth addiction of seven years). It was not fun. It was horribly painful with absolutely no indication if it was going to pay off. Through these 6 weeks my mother saw things no mother should see. My skin shedded, if she touched my limbs I would wake up the entire neighbourhood with a scream. I was fragile. Weak as fuck. I was hysterically laughing then hysterically crying. I didn’t allow visitors. I didn’t allow my mum to leave the house. I felt enormous amounts of anxiety for the first time in my life. I was a zombie riddled with fear.
Thank you to my Mum for being my overextended everything. My nurse, my muse, my light, my love, my mother. Only once did she tell me she was scared. Now this is all in the past, she’s informed me that she was just as petrified as me. My mother is a hero. The most selfless golden trophy anyone could ever receive.
Six weeks into withdrawals, I remember mum put ‘The Hangover’ on the TV for me to “watch” at 4 am. I wasn’t sleeping during this period for context, my body was extremely overworking itself. I also hadn’t watched a movie in a looooong time. My attention span was no where near capable of that. Anyway, it’s 4 am. Mum is sitting on the opposite side of the couch. And then I laughed.
I laughed at one of the stupid jokes Allan says in the film. That might sound basic but for me that was a life changing moment. A slice of hope. Mum and I looked at each other and knew it was going to be okay. I had received, understood and reacted to a ridiculous joke some punter on a boys weekend in Las Vegas said. Believe it or not, this was the silver lining. This is when I knew hope wasn’t just a prayer, it was a reality. Thanks Allan.
It has been 17 months since that precise moment. My life, my attitude, my outlook, my energy has changed forever. The biggest weakness, secret that I despised and hid for so long was actually the best thing to ever happen to me. You must break to build. I don’t believe in coincidences.
My body is still healing, adapting and it’s transforming into its ‘natural size’. A weird concept as I don’t know what that is. I was first medicated at 15 and hit puberty at 17. February 2020 I moved to London. A long time dream of mine since forever. Once I had faith and trust in my health again, it was always going to be my next move. Heading into a colder climate than Australia, I started to notice a massive drop of weight within just weeks of living in London. The colder temperature had reduced my swelling and everyday getting further away from all the chemicals.
Acupuncture, lymphatic drainage and seeing a naturopath were also holistic routes I took just before moving. I had medical PTSD as I regained memory, so finding a more natural route opposed to western medicine was crucial for my healing time. Within 2 acupuncture sessions my insomnia had gone. When my acupuncturist first touched my body, she asked if I had a drug addiction in the past. This is something now most health care workers ask. They can feel the chemical abuse in my body. Everyday the strain lessens, my organs get stronger and healthier. I don’t just know this, I can feel this, I can see this.
Let’s just take a moment to breathe shall we! it’s a big story I know. If you’ve got this far, well done! I’ve had a few tears, I won’t lie.
So to paint the picture. Currently, my body is shrinking. Rapidly. I don’t have scales but my family estimates 20 kilos in 4 months completely naturally. The water retention is slipping off me. I rocked up to London as a proud and loud size 22, I am now currently yanking up my size 14 jeans as we speak. Do I care? Fuck no. I love all bodies. I always have. It’s why I started painting nudes in High School, it’s the reason I began doing nude photography when I was 18. To represent all shapes in awe. All bodies are valid, worthy and hot. Therefore, every form I showcase and represent is valid, worthy and hot. Gaining trust and stability back in my body is ecstasy. The way it moves, functions and feels compared to what it use to feel like, is indescribable. It’s magic.
Body positivity and body acceptance is mental. Health looks different on everyone. I gather my body is showing it in a smaller frame.
My home for so long was this beautiful fat build. It cared for me, comforted me and was my blanket when I needed. When it started to drop off unexpectedly, at times it was interesting to navigate. Especially at the beginning of COVID-19 when all everyone wanted was stability and knowledge of what was to come. I would catch myself in the mirror and double take my outline. For me, I took this as a new challenge and a new path of acceptance. I did have moments of “Woah who’s that”. I called my best friend during one of those moments, he said “Imi it’s okay. Who said you must always, have to be body confident? You have been more than most for a long long time. Don’t forget you’re human.”
It was a quick splash of cold water on my face. Exactly what I needed to hear from a loved one. I was being too harsh on myself. I then accepted it was me adjusting, adapting and processing and I have every right to not feel Beyoncé confident every minute. These moments are very minuté now even with the rapidness of change still proceeding. People often ask me how I am so body confident. The truth is, these days, I am just stoked it’s still standing. I take pride in my body. I always will. It’s a warrior.
I have stretch marks, a skin condition and I view it all in adoration. They are my wounds of overcoming. They are my beauty born of pain. My reminder of how tough my shield is. How strong my armour is. How exquisite my frame is. How daring and dynamic my form is. I am proud of all my shapes and sizes. I am honoured to just be.
I had a choice when I got my health back. To hide, say ‘poor me’, wallow, mope... OR run hard and fast. Use it as fuel, make it my power. Which one do you think I chose? Life isn’t always merry. Use your blues for power. Make it your advantage. It’s all down to perspective. Let it be your game changer, your ammo.
I wouldn’t be half as happy, half as driven, half as loud, half as strong, without my unwanted pain, my blues, my medical trauma. I’ve never been so strong physically, emotionally, mentally and the best part is, this is just the beginning.
My war made me bulletproof. It was the best thing to ever happen to me.
Written by your favourite hype girl, powerhouse and fulltime woman, Imogen Ivy.