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What is Body Image Anyway?

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on January 13, 2016

body image

A girl, in a westernised culture, living in a city of affluence, constant exposure to #thinspo via the media. Like many, I have the characteristics for an unhealthy relationship with food and myself, and have found myself consumed by a negative attitude towards food, and more so – myself. Here’s my journey..

Growing up, eating was nothing I really ever gave much thought about. I had a very standard Italian x Aussie diet: cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, pasta with home made tomato sauce, tim tams and chocolate frogs. Far from #cleaneating. As an active child, my endless basketball, netball and dancing sessions combined with a fast metabolism meant that I looked pretty healthy. This continued until puberty, and I gained a lot of weight – and fast. The result? I absolutely hated it. I felt uncomfortable in my new shape, physically heavy, and my skin had all kinds of volcanic eruptions.

Initially, to manage my weight I went on all kinds of crazy diets: lemon water, no carb, no eating after 8pm, vegetarian – you name it, I tried it. At the same time, when I was ‘treating’ myself one square of chocolate became the whole block and I was overcome with a sense of shame and guilt. The enjoyment factor of this was far below zero. After a confusing and unhappy few years, I realised how consumed my mind had become by food. Celebrations, catch ups with friends and family gatherings were often uncomfortable and anxiety provoking. It was a really dark period and I wasn’t very kind to anyone, self included. 

I recall one dinner – a birthday – when everything changed. There I was interrogating my friends’ meal choices and picking at my salad and a lightbulb switched on in my mind: was this how I wanted the rest of my life to be? So obsessed with my own thoughts that I can’t even enjoy a meal? Really? I took a moment to absorb everything around me – my girlfriends, the smell of pasta, the sound of laughter coming from the table next to me. In my daze, it dawned on me: this is life. Sharing, loving, experiencing – life. Being so caught up in the moment of now that nothing else matters: life. Embracing the now and everything in it: life. Well, most importantly, that’s the life I wanted to live.

After a few years of weekly therapy sessions, exercise and meditating, I was able to let go of limiting beliefs, including those I held towards food and myself. Instead, I learnt to replace these attitudes with healthier ones: ones that are founded upon self love and allow my life to be filled with infinite happiness, joy and peacefulness. I actively continue this mindset shift in order to further develop my love for life, myself and the world around me. Understanding how it feels to be on the other side, it’s now my quest to help others do the same.

Written by Olivia Arezzolo – Co-founder and personal trainer at Bondi Outdoor, psychology graduate and nutritional medicine student. Olivia provides wellness guidance through consultations, and via her website – For individual sessions, please email [email protected].

Image Credits

Photography – Christopher Cameron –

Make up – Brooke Pearson –

Outfit – Mijanou –

Tan – Tuscan Tan –

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