Victoria & Ingrid

Victoria Montgomery, 23, office co-ordinator and recovering anorexic.

“I think my attitude towards my body has been partially shaped by my mum. Growing up, she was always trying to lose weight. She would make comments like, ‘I feel so fat today.’ I looked up to my mum and understood that I needed to replicate her obsessive exercising and eating habits if I wanted to be like her.

I was 16 when I found Mum’s calorie-counting book. I read it out of curiosity and have regretted it ever since, because calorie counting was a major factor in my disorder. I suffered from anorexia for five years. Even when I was admitted to hospital, weighing just 43 kilograms, I didn’t feel skinny enough.

Mum has been the only person with the courage to openly address my issues with me. She got me help when I didn’t want it. She talked to me when I didn’t feel like listening. She believed in my recovery, even when I didn’t.

I am a size 8 now. I feel I have a healthy body image, though I still have bad days. It’s a huge adjustment going from body shaming yourself to accepting and loving yourself. Mum introduced me to the world of exercise and calorie counting but I don’t blame her. I’ve accepted my eating disorder as mine. The main difference now is that I am my own person. I like my reflection in the mirror. I don’t need to replicate my mum; I’m happy just being me.”

Ingrid Montgomery, 53, counsellor.

“Prior to Victoria’s illness, I was not aware how influential my own negative self-talk could be. Looking back, I can see this rubbed off, but I also think Victoria’s eating disorder was enhanced by external influences such as anxiety around her final year of school.

Anorexia is a devastating experience; there’s no place like it. I couldn’t sleep and would sit in her room to check she was breathing. Her illness forced me to look at my own body perceptions, language and behaviours. I’m a size 10 now and my body confidence yo-yos.

I’m not overweight or unattractive, but I am naturally self-critical.

I felt a lot of guilt around Victoria’s illness but I have dealt with it and feel we both have healthier body images. My book, Love Her Hate Her, tells the story from my perspective as the carer and Victoria’s road to recovery. I do think you have a responsibility as a mother to lead by example. How can you expect your daughters to have a healthy attitude towards their bodies if you don’t?”

Original article found here:

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