Nelli, 19

Of course you wouldn’t talk to anyone else the way you talk to yourself. Or even look at them the same way.

It’s just an automatic reaction somehow. You’d wanna be, well, not perfect, but something along those lines. I’ve never really liked my nose, and I have a very high forehead. And now when I have gained some weight again, it makes my cheeks look like this. Not to mention, my eyes are really small. But the eyes are not the worst part. It’s the cheeks and the nose that catch one’s attention. At times I’ve thought that if I had a ton of money, I could go and fix my nose. I don’t know if I could go through with it, though. After all, even though you give yourself a hard time, your features are part of who you are.

In the first year of high school I started feeling like I should lose a couple kilos. I guess it was social media that gave me that idea. Even when you know very well that the photos of women there are really posed and fake, you still start to feel like you should be a bit like that.

That summer, I was working at a horse barn. I would eat my oatmeal in the morning and cycle 4 kilometers to work. I would work all day without eating, only drinking water. Then I cycled home, ate a bit and went to bed. In the end, a couple kilos turned out to be about 14.

One of my friendships fell apart around that time, and I had huge pressure about what I’m gonna do with my future. School was not going well. I felt like eating was the only thing I could control, the only thing I would succeed in. At the same time, I knew it wasn’t right. I don’t really know if what happened then was a real eating disorder, but at least in some grey area. After the fact I’ve talked with the school psychologist and the school nurse about it. I’ve recovered pretty well, even though I’m still processing that stuff.

I’ve always done a lot of sports. But now I want a strong body, not a skinny one anymore. You do notice at the gym who’s there to train in a bikini fitness style and who’s there to get stronger. You can tell by what they’re doing and by what weights they’re using: whether they only do glute exercises in fancy sports clothes, for example. I train in a holistic way, not just to get a bigger booty.

What annoys me about people is that they won’t tell me what they really think. Yesterday I was talking to my mom about something and she was like, there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re as slender as a pixie. But I can see when I look in the mirror that I’m no pixie: I have big legs. As long as it doesn’t bother me, why can’t they just tell it to my face?

I’ve done a lot of things in my life to please other people, especially my parents. It’s probably because I was adopted as a kid. It’s hard to trust people. I know that mistrust is just a feeling, and you need to work on it. Still, it’s there and affects everything, also the way I feel about my looks. It’s really hard to believe it if someone tells me I’m beautiful.