How one woman who once suffered with anorexia is inspiring thousands to love themselves

Gina is the founder of Nourishandeat, a blog and Instagram account that aims to inspire others to love themselves.

Starting as a personal recovery account, Gina suffered with anorexia, orthoexia and excessive exercise, and had faced many self-esteem issues. But, it later turned into her journey of recovery – as she met with and connected with many others who had gone through a similar situation to her.

Now, Gina inspires thousands every day – reminding them to be happy, confident and to love themselves just as they are.

We spoke to Gina to find out all about her journey, and what she feels is most important factor in teaching yourself to love yourself completely.

Where did ‘Nourishandeat’ begin?

Nourishandeat started as a personal recovery account. I used it to follow the girl who wrote a tumblr blog about ED recovery (letsrecover.tumblr.com), and other people who inspired me. On it I posted the things that I wanted to believe, like inspirational quotes and doodles about loving your body, even though at the time I didn’t think they applied to me. I used it to connect with other people going through the same things I was, and the more people I met and the more friendships I made, the more I learned about body positivity and my own recovery journey.

What was it like to suffer with an eating disorder?

From early 2011 until late 2014 I suffered from anorexia, orthoexia, and excessive exercise – but I’d always had a body image problem, something I never really realized I had until after I started recovery. Ever since I was a little girl I was tall and thin and felt awkward all the time. I was bullied all throughout elementary school, and from then (and into my 20s, and even still now) I constantly worried that people didn’t like me as much as I thought they did, or that I was a burden on other people. And when my eating disorder developed, all those feelings sort of came to the surface.

What inspires you to post such uplifting posts all of the time, and how are they received by your followers?

Mainly I post about the things I’m feeling at that time, or if there’s a topic that’s really bothering me I’ll talk it out on Instagram. I try to be the influence I wish I’d had when I was younger. Obviously, I’m human, and I don’t get it right 100% of the time (none of us do) – so sometimes people will comment with their opinions – I’m learning every day. But usually the response is overwhelmingly positive.

What do you feel is the most important factor of loving yourself?

Not giving a shit what other people think, honestly. There will always be people who tell you you’re not enough of one thing, or too much of another, or to sit down and not say what you think. I’ve stopped attributing my self worth to the opinions of others. Body love isn’t about what other people find beautiful – it’s about finding and exploring the beauty in your SELF, and knowing that you are good enough just the way you are because you exist.

Do you think loving yourself completely is achievable?

I do. But I also think that it’s unrealistic to expect the old feelings of inadequacy to just disappear. I think it’s entirely possible to love yourself completely, just the way you are, while still having those mind ghosts pop up every now and then. What’s important is knowing how to control them, and having the right tools to banish them before they fully take form.

This 👆🏼 is what day 1 of my period looks like, with cramps and bloat and water retention and gas. My stomach is not flat. I am not comfortable. I am irritable and swollen and eating everything in sight like a hungry monster. My insides hurt and the pressure in my stomach is less than pleasant. But I am sharing it with you because this is something girls rarely see on social media. Right now, this is what my body looks like 🙌🏻 Bellies are not always meant to be flat. It's ok to bloat! My body is performing a natural task — one that my eating disorder took from me for years. I may not be comfortable, but I will always be grateful for a body that works to keep me alive. ❤️ #embracethesquish #nonairbrushedme

A post shared by g i n a ✨ s u s a n n a (@nourishandeat) on

How do you feel someone wanting to feel comfortable in their own skin should go about doing so?

Go through your means of influence and get rid of anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. Rid yourself of toxicity – in friendships, in your social media feed, in the way you talk to yourself. Surround yourself with people who challenge you in a good way; start following body positive and inclusive accounts. Start looking out for all the ways that society has told you you’re not good enough – and remind yourself every day of the ways that the shape of your body has no real consequence on your worth as a human being.

Do you have any advice for those who suffer with body image issues?

You are so much more than what you think. You are not a size tag or a number on a scale. You are not the size of your hips or the flatness of your stomach. Your value does not depend on how correctly you fit the definition of ‘female’ or ‘male’ or ‘beautiful’ or ‘strong’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘thin.’ Take a few moments at the start of every day to look at yourself in the mirror and accept that while you might not like all the parts of you right now, your body is beautiful. It is the home chosen for your wonderful spirit. The size of your jeans or the shape of your face has absolutely nothing to with your self worth. You are amazing and powerful and enough just the way you are. There are people out there who don’t give a flying fuck about what you look like or how much you weigh – surround yourself with those people. There’s more of us than you think.

Edit: this photo is an exact copy of @chooselifewarrior's original post a few days back, which has been reported by trolls and removed by @instagram 4 separate times. It has already received a better response than any of her posts. Why? Because I'm thin — because my body is deemed socially acceptable. Because the sexualization of my body is not considered a fetish. What a disgusting double standard. #IstandwithDani 😐⚡️ "Some people talk about my body as if they have any idea what it's like to walk in it. Society talks about my body as if it owns it. As a woman I am expected to meet the beauty standard set before me — And instead of empowering us, they become a vice, tightening with unrealistic expectation, and the shame of self-promotion. Women's bodies can be naked for profit — sure. Naked for men's eyes — sure. But naked and posted by women themselves?DISGUSTING. Sexualised by men? Sure. Taunted by society? Fine. Fallen in love with by the soul within? ABSURD. Women who understand the need to control their own sharing and promoting of body image get it. They understand that in order to create change, we need to see diversity — diversity in bodies and in people. Nakedness is nothing to be ashamed of — but as women we are told that our bodies have a different purpose: To excite men. Even if we don't mean it; Even if it is not sexual; Even if we do not consent; The simple act of empowering ourselves is twisted — because we are always to blame, men are always 'boys being boys.' See, my body is sailing ship — Meant for a million other things before my sexuality, before the use and gaze of men… But that's all society sees. This isn't an advertisement for sex.This is a woman claiming her body. Let's not be afraid to empower ourselves, whatever that means for you. To the men who think my body is theirs, thinking that their opinion will break me, or that it even matters. To the women who slut shame for no other reason than they've bought into the bullshit establishment which holds our rights as women hostage. I'm showing as much of my body as I want, to normalise its existence. Sex has nothing to do with it."

A post shared by g i n a ✨ s u s a n n a (@nourishandeat) on

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