Cw: This article contains content about eating disorders.
I was 12 years old when I discovered that my friends had branded me as ‘thunder thighs’
When we hit puberty our bodies change. A lot. And for some they change more than others.
As a young sprinter, it was my growing muscular thighs that were part responsible for my speed. Like most children, I had never second-guessed my body. It was just a body. Perhaps my legs were bigger than most girls’ were at that age, but I didn’t care because they allowed me to walk, to run, to win races. I didn’t care until I discovered that my friends had been calling me thunder thighs behind my back.
From then it got worse. Due to my unwillingness to accept my nickname, these girls would now only talk to me if they had a new joke based on the size of my legs.
The positive body image I had for myself began to crumble
I remember eating my lunch when I heard one girl make a comment that I must be eating to make my “thunder thighs” even bigger. I left the hall and didn’t eat any more food that day.
That night I spent hours looking in the mirror pinching my thighs and praying for them to magically disappear. I flicked through social media on my phone, noting that the Victoria secret models that I aspired to look like all had stick thin legs, not the tree trunks that my classmates said I had.
I acquired severe body dysmorphia that led to me starving myself.
Soon I no longer had the energy and muscle I needed to properly compete in the sports that had once been my passion. I became sluggish and attempted to satisfy my burning hunger by regularly binge eating and then forcing myself to throw up.
One day I could no longer cope and hysterically explained to my parents what had been happening at school.
When I was diagnosed with bulimia my parents were very supportive and luckily, as it was only a few months down the line, I was able to recover fairly quickly.
Through therapy and learning to love myself I realised that my big legs are powerful, that my curves are beautiful and that I am proud of my body and everything it enables me to do.
However, I can’t help but think that if body positivity was taught to children from a young age the number of people suffering from eating disorders and body dysmorphia would plummet. Normalising different body types is essential to stop body-shaming related bullying and to give people the confidence to love themselves inside and out.