I’m a writer, journalist publisher, body image activist, Huffington Post blogger, social media queen, body image mentor and best selling author. I live in Cheshire with my partner, Tim, my step son Tom, two cats (Mog and Maisie) and our dog Bluebell.
Why am I a body image and anti-diet activist? Why do I spend my time helping people to overcome negative thinking about their bodies? I think it’s because I started dieting when I was 10 and I suffered the consequences of that (find out more about this here).
Here’s a little insight into why I’m an anti-diet campaigner: before I’d heard of dieting or thought I needed to lose weight I had no problems with food. I could take it or leave it. Then as soon as I did learn that I was supposed to diet myself thinner, the roller coaster that was to last for the coming decades began. I went from starving myself to finding out that I could binge and then counterbalance it by forcing myself to throw up – all before I was 12 years old!
Along with my dieting experiences I worked in women’s magazines (Now, Woman, Woman’s Own, Bella, Cosmopolitan and the rest) for two decades as a writer and sub editor and as a result had to focus on unrealistic images and offensive attacks on women for at least eight hours every day. I’d say a much higher exposure than other women.
After an enormous amount of research over a very long period of time, and a couple of years of serious training in mentoring at a real UK college, I developed a programme to help women with their eating and body image issues. It was called The Food Philosophy and it became a bit of a cult, with hundreds of women joining my discussion forum and signing up for private and group coaching. The response was, and still is, astonishing. The Food Philosophy is offline at the moment as I’m taking a break from coaching to focus on writing How To Love Your Body.
Then, in 2010 I founded and edited Beautiful magazine, the UK’s only print magazine devoted to body diversity and raising self esteem. It was sold in Tesco stores and Evans retail outlets and it was shortlisted for the Government’s Body Confidence Awards in 2012 along with just three others: Caitlin Moran (How To Be A Woman), Gok Wan (Gok’s Teens) and The Guardian Weekend Magazine. Shortly after that, unfortunately, Beautiful ran into some difficulties that meant publication had to be postponed. In short, Tesco (typically, I hear) didn’t forward the funds for the magazine’s national sales for a whole year so without sufficient income we were unable to continue printing the magazine. (I feel I should add that Evans stores – Arcadia Group – were hugely supportive and well-mannered and always paid for sales on time.)
The relaunch of Beautiful is now in its planning stage and it will be up and running, hopefully, some time in 2014, with new editor Sarah Clarke.
In between all this and while still mentoring over the phone, messenger and face-to-face, I found the time to give evidence at a Parliamentary enquiry into the causes and consequences of body image anxiety alongside fellow Endangered Bodies member Susie Orbach. I also gave up many days researching to help and advise with the formulation of Reflections, the report on Body Image by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image.
In 2012 my book, Eat Less Without Trying To Eat Less, which was based on the foundations of The Food Philosophy, was published and it reached No 1 on Amazon (overall category) soon after it was released. It got some great reviews, including applause from BBC Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour, women’s empowerment guru Lynne Franks and editor of Psychologies magazine Suzy Greaves. But I guess I’ll leave you to make your own mind up. I do give the book away free on lots of occasions, I’ll announce the next free day on my blog and on social media (@antidieter @BeautifulMagUK and Facebook).
Now I’m writing my new book, which is very much enmeshed in my first and, of course, you can find out about that here – you can even buy it right now, even though I’m still writing it!
That’s it about me, I think. I hope you’ll come back and read my blog. I’ll try not to be too serious, I promise!