Why TBCR’s ambassador Essie wanted to get involved


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I was so excited when the prospect of being an ambassador came up. It seemed like perfect opportunity to truly reach people. Social media has done something amazing: it has suddenly given us the tools to see the world from different perspectives. I grew up when the Internet had only just properly formed communities but it was enough for an only child to feel like there were people out there who thought and felt the same things. That is why, now I’m an adult, I think it is important to share my battles with eating, body image, and growing up. I hope that young people may understand how my life has been and relate to it. I especially remember my days at school and how what I looked like shaped almost all my self worth. It took me a very long time to realise I wanted a life in academia, and I think it was very much to do with thinking my looks meant everything.


My whole life I had wanted to be fully English. The parts of me that weren’t, were the parts I hated: my shape, my dark hair, and the shape of my nose. I hit puberty so early that I developed a curvaceous body very young. Everyone around me was lighter and thinner and I was at an age where people stopped admiring differences and began judging them. I stopped going out in the sun for a while and I wanted red hair and blue eyes like my mother. As an adult, I’ve realised the lack of diversity around me and in magazines affected me more than I expected. Many people can judge Kim Kardashian but she was one of the first women I saw who looked similar to me. That had a positive effect on me personally. We just need to value more than one kind of beauty and we also need to stop valuing this superficial form of beauty. The value of physical “beauty” above other more important traits doesn’t sit well with me.


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You have to keep one thing in mind when it comes to the fashion and beauty industry: the only way they can sell you things, is if they make you feel inadequate enough that you feel you need them. I wanted to become an Ambassador for TBCR so I would Β have a platform to challenge the industry, and in the process create a wider feeling of body confidence among people.


The admiration of beauty is a kind of love. That’s why people treat those they deem beautiful as better. It’s a superficial kind of love just like an automatic indifference to those they deem unattractive. The hate that is produced through judging a person’s physical form however, is a dangerous one. There is a naturalisation of attributes linked to a person’s body: they must be stupid if they are ugly, they must be kind if they are beautiful, they must be promiscuous if they have large breasts etc. In my experience these are the most unjust forms of judgment and yet some of the most powerful. Body confidence stirs up more than just the social realm but by proxy finds itself in political, ethical, racial and sexual debates.


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My eating disorder came directly from how I viewed my body. I know this must be the case for others and from experience I would say: only positivity can truly make lasting change. I hear all kinds of people judge eating disorders without knowing a thing about them. They think that unkindness could possibly be a helpful tool in helping them heal. I wanted to be an ambassador so I could reach people and perhaps even make a small difference in the world. I want to change how we view ourselves, how we value ourselves, and I think the beauty and fashion industry have a lot to answer for.


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Β TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

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About Leyah Shanks

Positive body image activist and advocate for mental health.

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