Josefin Borgman, a 22 year old girl living in Sweden who loves makeup and fashion, shares her story about how she fought through her eating disorder. For Josefin, it's never about being flawless or making herself feel more beautiful, because she knew that beauty comes from the inside.
Tell us about yourself.
I have always been quite underweight. I'm currently 165cm tall and I've never weighed more than 48 kilos.
Are you happy with your body now? Do you feel pressured weight-wise?
Yes, I am happy with my body! I don't think it would hurt to gain a few more kilos, but I am perfectly comfortable in my own, imperfect body and I feel confident. I know I am healthy so I do not feel any pressure at all.
Have you always been happy with your body?
No, I haven't. In my whole entire life, I have always been underweight. Not to an extent where it's been dangerous, but just slightly underweight. Ever since I was born. But when I became ill with mental illnesses it affected my body so much that I lost 10 kilograms. I hated my body and I hated myself.
Tell us about the difficult times that you experienced body issues.
When I was about 19 years old, my mental health crashed. And it took my physical health with me down the fall. I became heavily depressed, I was suicidal and I experienced hallucinations. During a period, I even had a psychosis.
My most difficult times was every time I noticed another item in my closet had become too big. At my lowest point all of my clothes were too big and sitting loose. All my skinny jeans were no longer skinny, they became baggy on me. All the times I looked in the mirror and could just see myself slowly fade away.
“I WANTED to eat. I wanted to be hungry. I just wasn't, and I just couldn't eat no matter how hard I tried to force myself.”
How did this affect your everyday life?
During my depression, my body just shut down. I lost my appetite, and I pretty much entirely lost all my hunger. It wasn't classified as anorexia, even though they wanted to put me on an investigation for it. I WANTED to eat. I wanted to be hungry. I just wasn't, and I just couldn't eat no matter how hard I tried to force myself.
What made you realize that you needed to change to recover from your eating disorder?
The realization that I was throwing away my life. At first I didn't believe I could be helped or could ever live a happy life again. I didn't believe I deserved it. But with the professional help I finally got, they made me realize that life is beautiful and not worth giving up on. Where I was going was very dangerous and I was the only one who could truly stop myself from going there. That I needed to realize I have to be my own hero in order to experience this beautiful thing called life.
I have learned to listen to my body, and to take care of it as it deserves. Because after all, when I was at the absolute lowest point in my life, even though my body was crashing, it STILL pushed to keep me standing. And for that I am forever grateful.
How did you get “out” of that negative thinking? How did you feel at the time when you had an eating disorder?
I'm not sure what I experienced was an eating disorder per say, it was the results of my own mental illness. Slowly but surely the little things in my life started getting better, after almost 6 months of trying to get professional help but being declined every single time, I found someone professional who could actually help me. This person helped me understand my thoughts, understand my feelings and made me re-discover myself. Made me realize my own worth.
"I can still remember how it felt not wanting to eat anything, not even being able to feel hunger. It's something I never want to experience again"
What motivates you today to be healthy?
When I survived my mental illnesses I got a tattoo on my wrist, specifically to remind myself every day that I survived. That keeps me motivated. And just how I feel in my body now that I am living a healthy life, that motivates me. I love working out and going to the gym and eat food. I can still remember how it felt not wanting to eat anything, not even being able to feel hunger. It's something I never want to experience again so I do whatever I can to never go back there.
What do you think about today´s body standards for models? What should be changed in the modeling industry?
I think the most important thing should be that models are happy with themselves. They get pressured every single day in their career that they have to be skinny. And I bet even most of the times they still get declined from jobs for being "too thick" or "too fat" even though they are thinner than the average girl. We need to stop glamorizing anorexia on the runways and magazines. Anorexia is a disorder that can be extremely dangerous and I think it's sick that people want to use that as a standard for beauty.
"Top 3 things that helped recover: my loved ones, realizing my worth and my curiosity for the future."
Top 3 things that helped you recover:
1. My loved ones. They were there from the beginning and held my hand through it all. Even though they were helpless too at one point and couldn't help me, they were always there to support me. They never stopped caring or loving me.
2. Realizing my worth. Learning to get to know myself again. Re-discover myself. Realizing that I am beautiful no matter what my body looks like, as long as I take care of myself. As long as I love myself.
3. My curiosity for the future. I wanted to know what I could do with my life. I wanted to explore every possibility. Just not giving up on myself and on my life. And it turned out to be quite amazing after all.