"For me, this project means more than I could ever have imagined and stands for something a few years ago I would have never thought possible. I lived in the shadows for almost a decade, haunted by the tumultuous grips of an all-consuming eating disorder. By the time I finally found the strength to fight back, my eating disorder had completely torn me apart, breaking down all of my insecurities into shattered marks of failure and worthlessness. To think I could ever find a sense of beauty in myself again seemed impossible. This sense of hopelessness carried with me every day and long into my recovery; to feel beautiful was only a memory growing more distant every day. Until one day, as I sat on my couch feeling powerless against the calls of an old friend - my eating disorder trying to lure me back - I heard a powerful bellowing from within that said “No”. Over and over, louder and louder, I heard something screaming back at the ghostly whispers of my eating disorder - “No! No! NOOOOOO!” Though confused for a moment, I soon realized that that voice was me and I was finally strong enough to reclaim my sense of power over my eating disorder in its entirety and I was no longer going to fall victim to her tricks, including the idea that I wasn’t enough.
And so, my quest for reclaiming my own sense of beauty and worth began. It started by simply sharing my story with others and feeling free to no longer be bound by one label - anorexia - but to see it was just one piece of my history and no longer overshadowed the uniqueness that was me living authentic and true to myself. I started exploring ways to help my body and mind feel better and even on days I didn’t believe it, I told myself “You are already enough” and “You deserve to feel beautiful”. Day after day, battle after battle, I slowly started to conquer all of the voices of residual doubt from my eating disorder and while there are plenty more I have to take on, I am finally feeling grounded in myself and learning to love every piece of me.
Throughout this time and especially as I started to share my story, I learned that I was not alone in my fight. Whether living with an eating disorder or facing cultural shaming for their appearance or succumbing to the pressures of the media, it seemed no one was immune to the feelings of worthlessness and lack of beauty that I had met head on for so long. No matter their identities - gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. - this disease plaguing our society did not discriminate. And as I got healthy enough to find my footing in my own life, I realized it was time we all came together as warriors in the battle against the villainous plagues of body shaming, self-doubt and unworthiness.
#ReclaimBeauty was officially launched the day I started sharing my story on social media but became a movement the day the first warrior joined me in the fight by sharing their story through both words and pictures. My intention, since the project’s inception, was that the movement was not bound by any one notion of how we move forward in this fight but includes the voices of every warrior and as a community we do what is necessary to help each of us heal and inspire others to join us and take on their own quest as well."