I have just read Anastasia Amour’s 14 Day Guide. I well remember how it felt to torture my body as a teenager. My eating disorder was created by a combination of insensitive words, feeling out of control of my young life and a desperate need to be perfect. Alternating between bingeing and throwing up, and not eating at all. Exercising to the point of fainting. Feeling that death was less intimidating than shedding the demons destroying me. It’s time for us to loosen the shackles, to stop destroying ourselves in the name of some ideal that we can’t really define. Self-love has to start here and now! For our kid’s sake as well as our own. My weight has fluctuated throughout the following years, due to surgery, recovery, IVF and endometriosis treatments. I have had my weight commented on when I have gained pounds, and again when I have lost those pounds. When my face became rounder after several months in a spinal bed, it was remarked on. There was little I could do about my situation and it left me feeling awful. I look back at those pictures and guess what? I see a girl who is a healthy weight! How about we stop the commentary? Let’s put it into the basket of subjects one doesn’t bring up, alongside enquiring about someone’s fertility. Inside Out is a divine little book, consisting of a 14-day guide, which aims to change how you see yourself and your body. It contains many practical tools and exercises. Let’s redefine what it is to be you, and shake off the shackles of the dieting industry. You can’t improve on perfection! Anastasia’s book contains 14 exercises that will offer practical support whilst you kick-start your body-confidence.
Questions for Anastasia.
What concerns you the most about the media? Is it the images they use, the words, or a combination of both that is so harmful?
The current state of the media is so problematic, and you’ve nailed it. We’re a visual culture and there’s no questioning our saturation of digitally-altered images and ‘flawlessness,’ and when you combine these with language that’s absolutely littered with ideas of fear, guilt and shame- appropriated as marketing tactics…well, you’ve got a very dangerous cocktail. In many ways, I strongly doubt that we’ll move away from the current media format anytime soon-but that’s not what concerns me. What concerns me most is the wide reach that the media has now, particularly to young people. Somewhere along the way, we’ve started to blur the lines between advertising and soft porn and we’ve widely accepted the notion that “sex sells,” to the extent where ad exececutives feel it compulsory to use female sexuality as a commondity to sell everything from cars to boxes of cereal. This is concerning on multiple levels but the biggest issue I have is the age at which the exposure starts. If grown women struggle to not internalize these toxic media messages about worth, sexuality and body image, what hope do young girls have? Girls and teenagers blossoming into women are confronted with more than ever before, and the implications of this are truly terrifying.
The diet industry is more powerful now than ever before. Why do you think this is?
Its simple-because the diet industry have so craftily set themselves up to grow bigger, better and stronger with age. When you set up your consumers to not only feel a perceived demand of their own accord but to experience that demand from your actions, you’ll always have the benefit of being a supplier. That’s well and good, except its not-not at all. This isn’t just selling pens or printer toner…this is screwing with people’s mental health. This is creating insecurities, blaming and punishing people for experiencing those insecurities and then offering them a magic solution to fix the very insecurities that the diet industry itself contributed to. It’s immoral, it’s unethical and it’s damaging so many lives. What the diet industry doesn’t want us to know is that those who are overweight and need to lose weight to keep their bodies healthy don’t actually need the diet industry at all to do this. Diets and fads don’t work. They might help you shed a few kilos initially, but they do nothing to keep you healthy in the long term. Ultimately, we’re building a culture that searches for shortcuts and hacks. When we take a quick-fix approach to our mental and physical health, we’re treating the symptoms of our conditions and not the root cause. This is a huge part of why diets fail to create sustainable, positive lifestyle change-they help you to minimize the symptoms of your condition (excess fatty tissue), but do nothing psychologically to tap into the emotional issues around your relationship with food and your body. That works out just fine for the diet industry because they get the illusion of helping you whilst simultaneously ensuring that you remain a lifetime customer.
Why did you write Inside Out?
Having experienced anorexia and bulimia, I know what it’s like to loathe yourself in every way. Whilst counselling can be helpful, I also know that therapy isn’t for everyone and that many individuals prefer to educate and empower themselves on their own terms-I’m one of those people. Through my personal experiences, studies in psychology and mental health and via my own research, it’s my goal to provide sound and practical advice to women who prefer to do their own introspective work, or who don’t have access to a counsellor. ‘Inside Out’ is a resource that I wish I’d had access to at the lowest points of my self-esteem and body image. There are a lot of self-help books out there that fill your mind with “fluffy” advice on one end of the spectrum, and then highly scientific, psychological textbooks that are delivered in an inaccessible manner on the other end of the spectrum. Inside Out isn’t just for those diagnosed with eating disorders and body image issues. The techniques that it breaks down are applicable to all women who’ve ever had moments of body-loathing. Inside Out is my love letter to the reader. It preaches empowerment, validation from within and fearless body confidence-things all women deserve to experience!
Finally, how can we affirm young girls and help them to seek self-love, rather than praise from outside themselves?
The way that we affirm young girls is symptomatic of our cultural values and often, we end up forcing these ideals onto children through conditioning and selectively complimenting only the “acceptable” traits. How often do we see little girls encouraged to pursue maths, science or sports? How often do we see little boys encouraged to explore the full spectrum of their emotions? Instead, we encourage notions of femininity and masculinity as mutually-exclusive concepts-we compliment little girls for being pretty and packing up their tea sets, and we compliment little boys for being smart and rough and strong. We can make a great start by complimenting young people based on all sorts of positive traits, regardless of their gender. I believe we can go further by encouraging young people to set their own compliments and praise themselves, rather than relying on those around them to tell them that they’re pretty, smart and capable. This starts with setting an open and encouraging dialogue within the family where each member is celebrated for discussing their positive attributes. We’re all happier and more productive when we’re enabled to choose we want to be, rather than being pigeonholed into someone else’s idea of what we should like about ourselves.
Anastasia is offering my readers a very special deal! When the book launches on November 14th, this link will go live. On that date, go to the shop and enter the code below to get 15% off! This is a book that will help redefine what it is to be you, far away from societal pressures.
For more info, go to Anastasia’s website.
I took my daughter to Paddington Saturday afternoon. She loves the vibrancy of the bustling city area; art and colour bursting out of shop windows, the pavement and passers-by. When I had deep purple hair, nobody seemed to notice here, as they are soaked in colour; blasé as only those spoilt by rainbows can be.
We wandered around as I explained to her how I adored Oxford St as a teenager. I came here on a walking frame, in body braces and casts. I would have crawled here to soak in its magic. A man named Remo had a wonderful shop on the corner of Crown and Oxford streets, REMO General Store. How I loved this place! There was a 5 metre long window on Crown St, in which designs such as the iconic Eternity by Martin Sharp were proudly displayed. Remo sold the most extraordinary items; it was the ultimate emporium. I lost myself in the store. I was no longer a patient, in pain, on borrowed time. I was limitless. I told my child all this as we strolled to Ariel Booksellers for Remo’s General Thinker book launch. Remo has always been ahead of his time. He has been Licensee and Director for TEDx since 2009. The TEDx mission is to propagate Ideas Worth Spreading: to inform and inspire.
Remo was extremely gracious when my daughter approached. She was confident at first, though when it was time to talk, she became tongue-tied. I helped her out, though I was rather overwhelmed myself! You have to read this remarkable and beautifully designed book to appreciate what a pioneer this fellow is, and how he paved the way for every dreamer who aspires to do good in this world.
To order this amazing book, go to General Thinker.
For someone who loves parties, I am unsure of having them for myself. When I left home, imprinted in my soul was a dread of celebratory occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. They would be spoiled, a combination of family tension building up, alcohol and drugs, expectations not met and complete exhaustion. My last big party was when I was thirteen, and in some ways, it has felt as though time stopped there. I forgot how to celebrate. I didn’t dare expect hurrah’s. My sixteenth birthday was spent down the coast, after the police advised their fear that the man who threw me off the building would come and get me. He had said he would. So I bought myself a book, and made myself a banana sandwich for my 16th birthday. My seventeenth birthday was spent alone, in my little room. I recall I studied. I felt unloved and as though I were a phantom, touching the perimeter of the living, though never quite making contact. There was no school formal, no 18th or 21st birthdays. I felt as though I wasn’t worth the effort. Grand celebrations happened to other people, not me. My birthdays were always low-key. You know what? I am tired of playing down my life. The biggest celebration I had was my book launch. I was so nervous, though when I saw the familiar, precious faces assembled, the nerves went away. I was safe amongst this crowd. They were here for me.
Next birthday, I may organize a dinner. I may organize to celebrate this wild and precious life in style. I may celebrate with a heart full of thankfulness for the life I have been given, the life left to live. No longer content to play small and hide occasions which should be celebrated. It will no longer do.
I have always admired the work of the White Ribbon Foundation, a collective of fine individuals who speak out against violence toward women. I was privileged at my recent book launch to have Mr Don Smith, an ambassador of the White Ribbon Foundation, speak. He spoke with passion, and there was silence as we came to terms with the horrifying statistics he proffered. Each number spoke of a precious woman or girl. Suzanne Grae have been a formal foundation partner with White Ribbon since 2008, and are sponsors of the Breaking the Silence in Schools program. It has been running throughout NSW, implementing programs aimed at developing respectful relationships and education. I was humbled when Suzanne Grae offered to dress me for my launch. The ladies at my local store were beautiful, and I chose ¾ length trousers, perfect for my short stature! I also selected a black top and navy jacket, with polka dots. I noted that they sold hand cream at the counter, and bought a tube for $9.95. All profits go to the White Ribbon Foundation and it is the best hand cream I have ever used! Catherine Baker from Suzanne Grae’s head office came to my launch, and I was filled with gratitude when she bought a book, and asked me to sign it. The support of White Ribbon made me feel validated, heard and that I was saying something important through my book. I shall be forever grateful to both White Ribbon and Suzanne Grae for their kindness.
My book launch is in a week’s time. I am feeling a little disassociated (as I do when I am overwhelmed, and my soul feels the urge to take flight). I am excited, and scared. Long car trips are carefully planned over a week, so that I can prepare a body already in inordinate amounts of pain. I will be sitting all day, before the launch that evening. Painkillers and Tens Machines, heat packs and stretches. The first concerns of my mind. Getting through the day in comfort. I know that hearing two fine men speak, an ambassador from the White Ribbon Foundation, and my friend Brian Bell, will render me teary. In a good way. The cleansing kind of emotion, where your chest is wracked with primeval rhythm. Seeing friends who have been with me throughout the years will leave me humbled. I am so grateful. I am terrified. I am relieved. I know this is the beginning of a wondrous journey. I am ready.