Movies and television shows depict men and women in perfect shape, under ideal lighting, with flaws and marks removed digitally. This creates an unrealistic perception of how people should look. If we want to be heroic and masculine like Logan (also known as Wolverine) then men need chest hair, abdominal muscles, and a tough, fierce attitude. And if women want to be attractive and sexy then they need to be scantily clad and most often with body enhancements.
But the truth is these movie stars hardly ever look like that in real life. And they will readily admit that the other months of the year when they are not shooting a movie (or TV show) they don’t look like that at all. Add in some CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery), professional nutritionists and trainers and a giant paycheck as motivation and you’ve created some lofty expectations.
So read on to find out what a father did when her daughter was struggling with her body image.
A teen from Australia, Gemma Walker, was suffering for years with anorexia. Her parents could do nothing but watch their daughter waste away.
Anorexia is a lack or loss of appetite that is a medical condition. It is an emotional disorder that is characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight. Despite the fact that one may not appear to be overweight, they still desire to continue to lose weight and is a form of body dysmorphia.
The family was living under strenuous conditions making sure that their daughter was still alive.
Gemma’s father, Steve, would sneak into her room every morning just to make sure that his little girl was still breathing.
In an interview, Steve said that sometimes the couple would sit ‘on the ground next to her bed just to be with her. We couldn’t do anything.’
At the age of 14, Gemma was a mere 62 pounds! Doctors warned that if Gemma didn’t get help and change her diet around, her situation would only deteriorate.
Doctors and health professionals told her that she wasn’t going to live if the weight loss continued. They gave her 48 hours to live.
Gemma said that she ‘felt numb.The days just melted into each other and I wished each day by, hoping that I would just pass peacefully in my sleep.’
Despite the concerns of both her parents and doctors, she still refused to eat and halt the weight loss.
She tried to trick doctors by wearing gym weights around her ankles to appear to have gained weight on the scale.
Over the course of the next seven years, she was hospitalized on numerous occasions including once to the emergency room and another two occasions to the psychiatric unit.
Her father recalled those tough, enduring times watching his baby girl suffer. ‘Seven years is a long time to have your baby suffering, a long time to have your child numb, with no voice, no personality—just a lethal, controlling obsession.’
Things only got worse when Gemma experienced severe depression and began cutting herself. But, all of the sudden, things began to change but maybe not for the better.
Although she began eating again and gaining weight, it was not in a healthy manner. She engaged in the opposite extreme and began binge-eating and consuming enormous amounts of food.
There would be times when she would eat 6,500 calories (approximately the amount of food a professional bodybuilder would ingest in a day) in a matter of 20 minutes.
This rapid absorption (or lack of it) of food would induce vomiting. This act is defined as bulimic as she was suffering from a different type of eating disorder. She would engage in bouts of extreme overeating and then she would vomit and restrict her food intake.
From one extreme to another, Gemma would experience bouts of hallucinations and would also faint.
Gemma told The Mirror: ‘My recovery was very traumatic. People believed because I looked healthier that I was better and no longer anorexic.’
‘The chronic [binge-eating] and bulimia lasted almost 18 months. It was a complete 180 from strict obsessive rules to complete loss of control.’
During that year and a half her weight tripled, and with the help of her family and her boyfriend she was slowly starting to disengage from the vicious cycle. She has since broken out of that unhealthy lifestyle and is currently starting a brand new chapter of her life.
She credits her family and friends for their help and support but says that her boyfriend is ‘the reason [she] is still alive.’
Six months into her recovery she is happy and confident in her own skin.
She has since launched her own skincare brand and is a source of inspiration for those struggling with bulimia, anorexia, and body dysmorphia.
She has since tried to fix the scars on her arm from when she used to cut herself. However, some have turned keloidal, forever a reminder of her past journey. She still has some marks on her arm and sees them as a ‘reminder and reflection’ of where she came from.