Anthon, 28, from Wales, now lives in Barcelona and is working on different projects and releasing a website early next year. He loves to travel and is working on a way to use social media as a platform to encourage change on issues close to his heart.
If you had asked me a couple of years ago how I felt about myself, I probably would have lied and made a joke, maybe even avoided the question. The truth is, deep down and maybe without realising how much, I completely loathed myself and the way I looked.
Having been large since I was a child, I had learned ways to deflect comments, had the right answers for everyone’s queries on my weight and size, and I always gave off the impression that I have body confidence. With a barrel of one liners and the odd ‘dad joke’, it was easy for me to lie, but in reality, I was striving to be someone else. I couldn’t stand being who I was. It was hard as a boy to ever speak about my body, it was never ingrained in me to open up.
When I was 16 years old, I had started singing in my local city, which called for a lot of confidence, but even on stage it was easy for me to hide behind a joke and push down the feelings that everyone was looking at my body, judging it. I began wearing t-shirts under my clothes that were four times too small, so I can ‘soften the edges’ following the many jokes about my ‘moobs’.
At 19 years old, I moved to London which is the place I truly started to see my own body as a problem. I came out when I was twenty and started to explore different scenes. This exploration lead to me hating and hiding myself even more as I felt I could never compete. I began to totally disregard my body, it was almost a process of mental extraction. In my head, I was ‘thin’, until I caught a glimpse in a mirror and the knife of reality stabbed me in the stomach. Those were the worst moments for me, the moments of realisation. It could happen anytime, sometimes in the middle of a conversation.
I would see my reflection and everything around me would disappear, in that moment, I could see a body I just didn’t recognise, it was surreal.
London has a way of making you feel better, it’s a city that allows you to truly be yourself somehow. After a while I began dressing differently. I would tailor my own jeans into ‘skinny’ jeans and wear outfits that people would not usually think a bigger man could wear.
I blogged about my outfits at the beginning of the plus sized revolution. I started to lose weight and with the weight loss gained a false sense of confidence from the image I was portraying. I fed off people looking at me in the street.
Ironically, at my lowest weight, I was the most depressed. I couldn’t understand it. “Wasn’t this supposed to make me happy?”
With this depression, I slowly started to gain back the weight and a vicious circle, which I am sure many people are aware of, continued.
I left the country and started a new life in Barcelona and I gave myself some time to think about who I was.
After a while, a process of self-love started when I realised that I had an eating disorder. I finally had to put an honest mirror up to myself. Instead of looking and seeing someone I wanted to be, I had to see the person that was there in that moment. The person that was crying out for help, to be loved.
I came to the realization that, if I couldn’t love myself in the body I’m in, how could I love myself in any other body?
Self-love is a process, one that may never end, but one that certainly gets better. I no longer wear layers to suck in my stomach and I have ditched the mentality that my body isn’t good enough, because it is! It can be loved and it will, firstly by myself.
I realised that the most important thing is how I feel, not how anyone else does. The people you see in the street, are literally walking past you, they don’t matter. You matter. And the moment that you start to love yourself in the body you’re in, is the moment you gain confidence, because confidence is personal, it’s for you.
If I could go back a few years, I would tell myself that, no matter what, you are the most important thing in your life. Ditch social constructs, understand that you can be loved, your body does not define you, enjoy life more and stop caring about how people see you!