Anna Guy: My struggle with bulimia
Anna Guy has opened up about her struggle with bulimia which started in her mid-teens, and she warns body image pressure on teenage girls is much worse now.
For 32-year-old Guy the cycle of starving, bingeing and vomiting started after two boys teased her, calling her the fattest in the class in their fifth form class photo.
Then 15, Guy remembered thinking: "No, I'm not," and laughed along with the boys.
"But deep down I didn't think it was funny at all," she told Woman's Day.
"I studied that photo and thought, 'Flip, perhaps I am'."
That day in 1996 remained etched in Guy's mind, as the start of a five-year period during which she was consumed by the eating disorder. It almost destroyed her.
Guy now lives in Auckland with her four children and new partner, following the murder of her brother Scott on the family's Feilding farm in 2010, and arrest of her now-ex husband Ewen Macdonald for the crime.
Macdonald was cleared of the killing, but was jailed on other charges of criminal damage, arson and theft.
While the unresolved death of her brother was still too raw for her to be able to help others in similar situations, Guy did want to help those fighting eating disorders.
"When I look back, I'd never worried about my weight until that day I was teased," Guy said.
She had been a confident girl who loved life and food, but before she knew it she was thinking about her weight more and more.
Somehow she came up with the idea to throw up food after meals. Instantly she'd feel better, and no one had to know, she said.
People started saying how great she looked, so she thought she must be doing something right. But her school grades began to slip and she distanced herself from friends. Her parents became worried she had lost her spark.
Friends found out about the eating disorder and told a teacher who told her parents. They were devastated.
"The disorder had changed from being all about my weight to how I felt about myself inside," Guy told Woman's Day.
"It was a mind-control thing. I wore baggy clothes and didn't like my photo being taken."
After she left school, part-time retail and reception jobs were all she could handle.
"All I thought about was what I could put in my mouth and throw up. My life revolved around it."
Her body began to fail. Her periods stopped for three years, her hair was thin and falling out, her skin broke out in pimples and her teeth were deteriorating fast. A dentist told her she needed 19 fillings and was in danger of losing all her teeth by the age of 24.
She had told Macdonald about the bulimia but his reaction was that it was "gross" and she never talked to him about it again.
When she was engaged at 19, Guy decided she would stop the eating problems on the day of her wedding in 2001. Slowly it became easier to live a more normal life but she remained obsessive about food - not bulimic any longer but borderline anorexic.
Everything changed when she had her first baby at 22 and she "finally understood how amazing the human body was".
Now she hoped she could use her profile and experience to help others, and had chosen to investigate the topic for TV3 current affairs show 3rd Degree.
"The body image pressures on teenage girls today are so much greater than when I was 15," Guy said. "Social media plays a huge part in this and 80 per cent of online bullying for kids is appearance-related."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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