By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN used to STARVE HERSELF because of hurtful comments she would receive from bullies about her weight but now she is being SHUNNED by the plus-sized community who tell her that she is ‘too small’ to talk about BODY POSITIVITY.
Dairy farm calf-rearer, Kayleigh Jones (20) from Stratford Upon Avon, UK, currently living in Waikato, New Zealand, has rid herself of the bullies who taunted her throughout school, resulting in her weight constantly fluctuating.
Kayleigh’s weight has changed drastically from 15st 7lb, to just 7st 8lb in just 18 months as she struggled through years of being bullied for her size.
The severe weight loss as a result of starving herself for up to four days at a time caused Kayleigh to develop stretch marks on her upper thighs and later her stomach and arms. Kayleigh spent years hiding her stretch marks as she would try all kinds of remedies to try and get rid of the marks which she was so ashamed of.
Since overcoming her battle, Kayleigh has learned to embrace her figure and she has since turned to Instagram to share her experiences and to highlight to others how important it is not to be fuelled by other people’s opinions.
Kayleigh has however faced some negative reaction from people who told her she is ‘too small’ to comment on body positivity.
Kayleigh, a UK size 12, has faced many ups and downs with her weight and for her it is important to show that plus-size doesn’t mean just one specified size, and body positivity isn’t just permitted from people of one size.
“Growing up I always hated my body and I criticised myself constantly for not being ‘perfect’, so I always tried to find ways to change,” said Kayleigh.
“I suffered many different eating disorders and body dysmorphia at a young age, starting at just 11 years old, because I felt so strongly that I needed to lose weight in order to fit into society.
“I would usually go three to four days without eating meals and I’d suppress my hunger with large amounts of caffeine and only eating small bits now and then, like bread or salad.
“My family moved to New Zealand when I was eight to better our lives and start afresh. Throughout my entire schooling here I suffered non-stop bullying and criticism from my peers.
“I got bullied so bad that I skipped most of what we call ‘intermediate’, which is the start of secondary school education in the UK, due to depression and anxiety.
“This made it harder for me in school because I found it hard to make friends. As the years progressed, luckily, I became more accepted by people and found it easier to block out the hate that I received.
“I developed my first stretch marks on my inner thighs when I was about 12 years old because of severe weight loss through starvation. It wasn’t until I turned 20 that I got them on my stomach and my arms, also from eating disorder-related problems.
“Most people assume that you only get stretch marks through weight gain or child bearing, but that isn’t the case. You can get them through rapid weight gain or weight loss like I did.
“I always hated my stretch marks and I used to hide them as much as I possibly could. I would try anything to get rid of them, but nothing ever worked. But now I embrace them because they show my journey through so many troubling years of no self-worth and they help other people to embrace theirs.”
Kayleigh is speaking out about body positivity now through Instagram to show that people of all sizes can express body positivity, after facing backlash previously.
After years of struggling with her weight, Kayleigh admits that it is her experiences with an eating disorder and learning to love her natural body that has taught her body positivity. Now, Kayleigh is showing that an individual’s size and weight shouldn’t be a factor which determines whether they can join the discussion about body positivity or not.
“A lot of people assume that just because I’m smaller than them I haven’t had the same experiences they have in society with weight problems and therefore I shouldn’t get to talk about them,” said Kayleigh.
“I have weighed over 15 stone and less than eight stone in the past. Now, I love my body. I feel as though I’m a totally different person knowing that the constant struggle of self-acceptance is over.
“I first heard about body positivity when I saw social media influencers like Ashley Graham and Ariella Nyssa, who are my biggest influences.
“When I first saw women promoting curves, it felt strange because my life had always been based around dieting and weight loss, much like most people today. It was troubling to me that people with bodies like mine could be happy and confident, knowing that so many would judge them and wouldn’t approve.
“I never used to be able to shop for clothes or go to the beach because I would have constant anxiety and fear over being judged.
“My body has affected relationships before because I was too self-conscious to put my all into someone. When you’re doubting yourself and telling yourself you aren’t good enough, it affects the people around you because you start to doubt them.
“As soon as I started facing my problems head on and became confident in myself, my relationships with people blossomed because I was happier and healthier, and I didn’t let my body stop me from doing the things that I wanted.
“Making my posts on Instagram helped me embrace myself by opening up about everything. Telling people my struggles and knowing that in return I’m helping so many more out there is the best I can ask for.
“It’s refreshing to be accepted by people because I never have been before. Knowing that so many people feel the exact same way I did pushed me to better myself and my life.
“To those who feel stuck in their own bodies or feel as though there’s no hope for a better life, there is. I was stuck in a hole for so many years with mental health and body dysmorphia, but I finally pushed through.
“You can learn to love yourself, it just takes time. Anybody can love someone else, but it takes true strength to find the love in yourself.”
To see more of her motivational posts, check out Kayleigh’s Instagram @britishdreamgurl.