How 200 Women from the Nations’ Capital Came Together to Embrace

What happened on an innocent Tuesday night in Canberra, Jemma and I could never have imagined.

Standing alongside Taryn and in front of 200 incredible mothers, daughters, girlfriends and their kick ass fathers, husbands and boyfriends, we became a part of history. A part of the Body Image Movement revolution, as we gave the big fat middle finger to society for making us question the beauty and uniqueness of our own bodies.

But first, let’s rewind to how Jem and I got here.
Georgia’s Story

For so long I kept my health battle to myself, and those closest to me, because let’s face it, eating disorders aren’t exactly the sexiest of introductions.

Three years ago, I hit my rock bottom. At just twenty years old I turned from a spontaneous, happy and confident girl who took life by the balls, to a sad, lonely and insecure girl who was driven by routine and the comfort of her own bedroom, all because I had developed the eating disorder, Orthorexia Nervosa.  In simple terms, I had developed an unhealthy obsession with being healthy.

You see I had won the trifecta. Not only was I a perfectionist, with a laser beam focus on becoming the healthiest person I could be, I was also a control freak, with a sprinkle of OCD to top it all off. Now please don’t all rush to be my friend!

This combination of personality characteristics meant that I thrived off the #instafit revolution taking over society and before I knew it, I was innocently living off a diet of fruit and vegetables, working out to the point of exhaustion every day, seeing the number on the scales continuously drop and becoming more and more unhappy but the scary thing was, I was the last to admit I had a problem. In fact, I thought I was the healthiest I had ever been.

It was not until one night my Dad, the man that could fix anything, was in tears because he could not fix me. His reaction made me realise not only what I was doing to my body but also that my illness was impacting those closest to me. It was in that moment I realised I would rather be a few kilos heavier then be the skinny, miserable 20-year-old girl hiding away in her bedroom on a Saturday night, pushing those closest to me away.

That moment changed my life.

This is not to say the next morning I woke up and it was all smooth sailing. I am not going to lie; it was bloody hard and took a few years of constant counselling and self-work. But as my confidence started growing back and I began to find a more balanced relationship with food and exercise, I started talking to other women through my blog, GH Nutrition, and realised that way too many women were suffering with disordered eating and body dissatisfaction in silence.

This then became my mission, to get better and to get educated so I could help other women fall back in love with their own bodies. Since finishing my degrees in Psychology and Nutrition, I can proudly say the old Georgia is back and she is happier than ever. I am now in the midst of completing my Masters in Dietetics and like Taryn, am working with women to bring back the self-love and confidence every woman deserves.

Through sharing my story an incredible girl named Jemma Mrdak stepped back into my life. Like myself, Jem had her own fair share of mental health issues growing up and was sick of struggling in silence.

Jemma’s Story

My story focuses more on the mental health side of things…

and how I hope I can inspire women to love and embrace their bodies, through the work I do with my blog, A Stylish Moment.

Throughout most of Year 11 and 12, when I was in the thick of senior school and dealing with the pressures of being a teenager and having adult-like responsibilities; I began suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and strong anxiety. This was my first time experiencing these disorders, and is a time of my life that I will never, ever forget.

Although I’m not and never will be 100% sure as to what triggered this sudden onset of mental illness (other than having a strong family history), it was something that I had to deal with, whilst also managing studying my senior school years and passing my grades (which was extremely stressful in itself).

For me, it meant that I was having to overcome compulsions, by following them through with a particular action that I would make up in my mind. Most of these compulsions would involve me convincing myself that something bad was going to happen, if I didn’t do a particular thing at a particular time. In order to overcome these compulsions, I’d follow through with a variety of weird actions, which at the time felt completely sane and normal, but now I think back and realise they really were weird and took up a lot of my time.

Along with the OCD, I experienced really strong anxiety that would result in countless evenings in terror and crying for hours and hours over silly things that I had blown into massive proportion. Of course, we all know that teenagers go through periods where they are emotional and get upset and have issues, but this was different; this was a mental illness.

I thank my lucky stars every single day that I was lucky enough to have incredible parents who were there for me every step of the way, and decided it would be best for me to see a professional psychologist and get some help.

Today, I deal with my anxiety and manage it in a few ways. And one of those ways is through loving my body, and treating it with the respect it deserves. I started a blog, with the aim to inspire and show women that they are not alone with their mental health and body issues.

Through meeting the wonderful Georgia, and hearing her story; we decided that it was time we took action in Canberra, and started spreading the Embrace word.

When Jem and I first saw the Embrace Documentary together, after sharing many tears and a few unexpected snorts of laughter, we both knew it was a documentary all women needed to see.  Immediately signing up as BIM ambassadors, Jem and I had a dream to get as many women we knew in one room together and host a movie screening in our local town.

We quickly realised Taryn was on to something special when we unexpectedly sold out of tickets within the first few days and as a result had to move to a bigger theatre (here we were initially worried we wouldn’t even sell the minimum of fifty tickets for the cinemas to let us go ahead)! It became quite obvious Jem and I weren’t the only one’s sick and tired of society telling us that our bodies weren’t good enough!

The screening was a huge success, with over $1,000 raised for the local Eating Disorders Program here in Canberra. Jem and I were also blown away with the support of local businesses and as a results were able to provide every guest with an amazing goodie bag filled with delicious treats and gift vouchers. Oh and to top it off, Taryn surprised us and made a guest appearance! We are still pinching ourselves that we were a part of something so special and urge anyone who is thinking of holding a movie night to do so.

Thanks to the work of body loving enthusiasts such as Taryn, Jem and I sure as hell know that in ten, twenty even fifty years from now, we are not going to care about what size jeans we wore or if we ate or exercised perfectly today. What we will remember is the moments we got to live and #Embrace life. To us, no perfect body shape or diet is worth sacrificing the joy in our lives.

If you are in the UK and Jem and Georgia have inspired you to host a screening,
JOIN EMBRACE THE UNION PROJECT to host your own screening.

If you are based outside of the UK and want to host a screening, head on over to our HOST A SCREENING PAGE right now to find out how.

Co-written by:
Georgia Houston, GH Nutrition
Jemma Mrdak, A Stylish Moment

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