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‘You are allowed to like your body’

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Erin Huston will be coming to Alvinston this month to share her story of recovery and finding the true meaning of self-love. She’ll be speaking at the Arts and Music Fest at 12 noon on Aug. 19. Handout/Postmedia Network

Erin Huston will be coming to Alvinston this month to share her story of recovery and finding the true meaning of self-love. She’ll be speaking at the Arts and Music Fest at 12 noon on Aug. 19. Handout/Postmedia Network

Erin Huston is just 21 years old, but she’s already using her experiences to help others heal and find their way onto the road of loving themselves.

The University of Waterloo student is coming to Alvinston’s Arts and Music Fest on Aug. 19 to tell her story. She’s been in recovery from anorexia nervosa for the last five years, and wants others to know they are not alone in their struggles.

Originally from Strathroy, Huston said in smaller communities it can be difficult to get the help you need. Resources are often limited, so when she knew she needed help, she turned to a guidance counsellor at her school. While the counsellor tried his best, Huston said she eventually turned to the health unit, who then referred her to a dietician.

“That was 100 per cent not what I needed,” she said. “They’re great for a lot of things but eating disorder recovery itself is not one of those things.”

Huston ended up going to the children’s hospital in London to receive treatment.

“In small towns, disordered eating wasn’t something we talked about, the resources weren’t there,” she said.

Now she is working to break down stereotypes, helping people understand that eating disorders can affect anyone, no matter their age, race or gender. She said the media perpetuates false ideas surrounding eating disorders, focusing only on anorexia or bulimia, when there are other types of eating disorders that are diagnosed more often.

“It’s important to talk about this in communities, especially in small communities,” she said. “These experiences are human, and they happen to all different types of humans.”

Huston said there is a fear of fat in society, but it’s really just something humans have and always will. Every body is different and every body is beautiful – this is something she wants to address.

“[Fat] is good, it’s natural, it doesn’t make them any less worthy of love or respect,” she said.

During her recovery, Huston co-founded a blog called Eating Disorder Confession – a platform where people in recovery can anonymously submit their experiences, thoughts and feelings. The original blog which she had helped moderate had been shut down for pro-eating disorder behaviours, but Huston and another moderator felt it could be a valuable resource if they were to make some key changes. It now has around 40,000 followers.

“It became our aim to support and encourage recovery rather than encouraging eating disorder behaviours,” she said. “It’s a place where people can still submit confessions, but we block out any words or numbers or specific behaviours, and we provide resources.”

It was through the blog that Huston decided she wanted to remove her anonymity and share her experiences publicly.

“It was through sharing pieces of my stories to strangers online that I became a lot more comfortable in thinking about sharing them in real life,” she said.

By 2015, Huston was a recipient for the Body Confidence Awards. She said upon giving her acceptance speech, she felt a sense of security and safety.

“This idea of body confidence was never really something I had known,” she said. “The idea of loving your body…it has become something really powerful in my life and something that I wanted others to know about.”

Huston said it has slowly become less about her personal story and more about the idea of loving your body for exactly what it is. She said this notion is often an elusive part of people’s journey through life, but it can be attained. This is the message she will be sharing in Alvinston this month, giving young people a chance to learn more about a healthy body image and come to see that all bodies are good bodies.

“You are allowed to like your body,” she said. “It’s our minds that need changing, not our bodies… that’s something I’ve started to live by.”

 

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Erin Huston speaking at the Alvinston Arts and Music Fest

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 19, 12 noon

 

mschilz@postmedia.com