I was left deeply saddened, angered and fearful after reading that children as young as five are receiving treatment for anorexia here in the UK.
However, I wasn’t surprised.
After all, how can one expect kids to be happy and confident with their bodies when all they see is ‘perfection’ and ‘size zero’ plastered all over the media and the world around them?
According to figures released, at least 2100 children have had treatment for eating disorders in the last three years, 98 of which were aged five to seven, 99 aged 8 or 9 and 400 where aged ten to twelve. But true figures where not available as many hospital trusts refused to give figures to freedom-of-information requests.
A worrying indicator of just how many children are already engaged in a dangerous battle with their own bodies and an unhealthy relationship with food?
But I’m not here to just talk figures and quote facts when the saddest fact is that these are only numbers given from children that actually received treatment. And only those that received treatment for anorexia, not including all other forms of eating disorders.
Who’s to say how many go unnoticed or unsupported, not just here in the UK but all over the world?
The thought of a child suffering as I and so many close have and still are makes my heart ache. As I write this now, it actually physically hurts to think about it and the tears are once again flowing.
I know from personal experience what it’s like to ‘feel fat’ and deeply unhappy with my body as a child because my eating disorder started to develop at the tender age of just eight.
Back then I don’t recall society being quite so obsessed with body image and there was certainly no such thing as ‘size zero’ but kids were still cruel, models were still far too thin an being small and beautiful was glamorised.
Being a kid should be about living life and having fun. Not standing in front of a mirror questioning everything you were born with.
It should be about enjoying food, experimenting and delighting in new tastes, colours and textures. Not picking at dinner, hiding food or being afraid to eat a chocolate bar.
It should be about enjoying your body and the amazing things it can do, all the wonderful ways it can move and the healing powers it has.
But sadly back then for me and for so many today, it’s already something questioned, feared and often hated.
So how do we go about changing this?
How to we start to make big changes, not only in our society but closer to home? Starting with our own children/friends children/the kids next door?
We as individuals can make a difference.
By setting examples to children, doing our best to act confident and happy with our own bodies (even if we don’t always feel it) being aware of any changes in the way the young around us act/feel/eat etc.
Reassuring them that they are beautiful, no matter what size they are.
Helping them learn to love their bodies and embrace all their amazing qualities, physical and otherwise.
And of course not conforming to this utterly ridiculous belief that beauty is an image that only reflects one of thin and flawless.
On a wider scale, we need more awareness. We need to take a stand against the media and it’s airbrushed images.
We need to protect children.
We need to given them their innocence back.
Reading this article yesterday gave me even more drive to recover myself. I cannot change what began for me as a child but I can make a difference to what happens to the children of tomorrow.
I can continue to bite back and once fully healthy, play my part in making big changes.
I spent the weekend enjoying the sunshine; eating yummy foods like chocolate brownies and pizza and spending time with those I love.
All the things I once enjoyed as an innocent child and am now rediscovering as a strong woman.
That is what recovery is all about but more it is also what childhood is all about.
I didn't protect and nourish myself for so many years but I am and can do that now.
For me, for the innocence around me and for the children of the future.
Of your future.
Of My Future.
For my own little bundles of joy that are yet to grace my life (and torment it too no doubt!;)
Let's do this!
With Much Love, Smiles & Support