Eat less carbs, exercise 30 minutes a day and restrict alcohol – these are all common efforts to lose those last 10 lbs. For some, there is a resounding belief that we’d all be happier if we weighed just a little bit less. One blogger subscribed to this same belief — until she decided her mental health deserved better.
Danica Marjanovic, a 24-year-old body positive blogger, admits that after a long history with body dysmorphia as a teenager, she struggled to see herself as beautiful – even at her smallest size. At a U.K. size 10 (North American size 6), she was miserable, continuously trying to lose weight, never feeling happy with her appearance.
“I’ve always had a curvy body, so I think that’s also what played into my body dysmorphia. Even when I was so slim, I was probably about a size 10 on top, to me that still wasn’t good enough,” Marjanovic told the Daily Mail. “I started my journey with body positivity probably about a year ago. I blog about my body because I’ve suffered quite low self esteem my entire life.”
Today, the Belfast native wears three dress sizes larger and is embracing her new body by joining a plus-size modeling competition. She has been documenting her body acceptance journey on YouTube, her personal blog and Instagram account. With more than 34,000 followers, her story of love and acceptance in the pursuit of happiness is a positive one, but for Marjanovic her old photos remind her how she used to feel.
“When I look at photos from back then, I can remember the exact emotion that I felt at that certain time and I just remember being really unhappy and miserable,” she said. “I went through a really nasty break up which kind of brought to the surface a lot of mental health issues that I have been battling with for years that I never really got the right help… I wanted to start posting about body positivity online, I kind of thought to myself – what was the scariest thing I could do that would challenge those insecurities that I have about myself.”
After searching for inspiration online, Marjanovic found a modeling competition for plus size models. Miss Curvaceous is a modeling event focused on body positivity, encouraging women to feel confident.
“I’m not a model. I’ve never done a catwalk, and I have to be walking in front of judges. That alone is going to be a big deal for me body [dysmorphia] I’m just generally really excited to go to the audition,” she said. “Two years ago I couldn’t walk down the street without having a panic attack, so coming from that level to being able to walk in front of people and being proud of my figure. To now be up to U.K. size 16, it’s possible to love yourself at any size.”
According to Eating Disorder Hope there are at least 600,000 Canadians meeting the criteria for an eating disorder at any given time, making messages like Marjanovic’s even more important.
“You are beautiful if you have stretch marks, you are beautiful if you have stomach rolls, you are beautiful if you have cellulite. That doesn’t determine your level of respect from others.”