career

'I sold my soul in an attempt to peddle my business. It failed miserably.'

We’ve all heard the celebrity stories: baring it all to get careers off the ground. But with the advent of social media, is being near nude now the norm? Scroll through your feed and within a matter of milliseconds, you’ll see everything from perky pecs to bountiful booties, leaving very little to the imagination. But what is the point of these photos? A showing of self-love, a sales pitch, or a subliminal signal for help?

I’m not sure if we’ll ever know the truth, but here’s my truth: when I did it, it sure as all heck wasn’t for self-love.

Let me explain.

How to improve your daughter’s body image. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

Since I was born, I loved food. I was in the kitchen by the time I was three. (Okay, it was a fake kitchen but real to me).

When I was only eight years old, our family moved to Southern France, where this love turned into a passion. During that time, my parents announced their divorce, which started my loss of identity. As a young teen, I began a cycle of extreme dieting. At the time, being anorexic was ‘cool’, so much so that the goal was to eat so little that you fainted.

 

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“Kids have it so easy these days” – have you ever said that? I have #guilty. But what does that remind you of? Our parents, right? ▫️ Fact is, just because they don’t have bills to pay, or the stresses of adults, kids go through traumatic times as well. ▫️ From an adult POV, most of their concerns are not typically life threatening – but they sure do feel that way at the time, right? ▫️ ????Not getting invited to a party; ????Getting picked last for a basketball team ???? Being the first to get boobs, acne or facial hair ???? Getting dumped in front of the entire school ▫️ That’s me in the photo; I was around 12-13y. I hated everything about myself, I was never good enough, smart enough, skinny enough or pretty enough. And the irony is, I had a relatively great childhood – parents that loved me, a good education, food on the table. Yet I still fell through the cracks… it can happen to anyone. ▫️ Many of us have tried to forget those younger years, as they are often filled with self-doubt, shame and regret. But now and again, it’s important to revisit the past so we can help the next generation through those tough years too. ▫️ So thank you, @telethon_kids for helping me remind both myself, and now others about what it was like when we were young and going through tough times. ▫️ If you’d like to donate, head to supportEmbrace.org.au or simply post a picture of when you were young with the hashtag #supportembrace

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My restrictive eating then spun into drinking, then drugs (hard and soft), and minor brushes with the law – all in the hopes of being popular and liked.
After finishing high school in Rome, Italy, I returned to my native country of Canada to start a career in food, ironic as my internal battle with anorexia continued. By 18, I was executive pastry chef of one of Toronto’s top restaurants hosting the likes of Demi Moore and Cher.

By 21 years old, I owned a restaurant and catering business, only to go bankrupt for $250,000 a few years later.

I eventually found myself back at school. During that ten years, I completed a bachelors, a masters, and a doctorate in exercise physiology and biotechnology.

Throughout that time, I learned everything a girl wants to know about health, fitness and wellness from the inside out. Essentially, it gave me the ability to unzip the body and understand every inch of how it functions, and how to keep it functioning at optimal levels. It was an incredible learning experience. But now, to find a job.

At the time in 2012, the health and wellness market was growing at a ridiculous rate. Michelle Bridges had already rolled out her 12WBT course in 2010, Kayla Itsines in 2013, and Ashy Bines somewhere in between.

What did I think about these brands at the time? I thought, jeez, these ladies were making a fortune, and only had personal training degrees. I had a doctorate in the area, I had trained Olympic athletes, and I knew a lot about food and nutrition. I figured if they could be successful, I could too! So, I lost all the weight I had gained due to chronic bingeing, and launched my own health and fitness company: Deliciously Fitt.

Over-exercising and undereating for 1.5 years to get 'show' ready. In both of these photos, I was struggling with severe depression and eating disorders. Image: Supplied.
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Like a robot, I basically copied what other people were doing but aiming to do it waaaay better because of all the health knowledge I had. My business was about balancing food and exercise – essentially the ‘recipe’ de jour to obtain that bikini body that everyone wants so badly. I started a subscription model, gave fitness classes, cooking classes, you name it, I tried it.

*Crickets*

Why wasn’t my business taking off? Why weren’t crowds of people banging on my door? Why did celebrities not have me as their go-to gal?

I thought I had the ingredients for success: knowledge, experience, savings – and the market conditions were perfect. Heck, the health and wellness industry was worth billions even at that time. (And that’s billion with a B just in case you missed that).

Well, as the old saying goes “sex sells”, so I thought maybe I needed to put a bit more skin into the mix. Hence forth my dive into the dark side: selling my soul to grow my business.

Dr Katherine
In 43 degree heat, hoping that these photos will help my business, and help me feel less like a failure. Image: Supplied.

Yep indeedy. I’m not sure if it would have been possible to show any more of my breasts. But it didn’t stop there, heck, let me do a lingerie shoot to get my business off the ground (face palm).

Fact of the matter is, I had all the right qualifications to support my business, I could give you facts and figures on health, I could train you in my sleep, and I could whip up a healthy feast with a matter of a few ingredients… but something just wasn’t right.

Everyone else was doing better than me. Everyone else was successful. What did they have that I didn’t have? Marketing? More money? What?

It took me a long long time to figure it out. It wasn’t what I didn’t have, it was something that I didn’t believe.

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Dr Katherine
A lingerie shoot to kick things up another notch. Image: Supplied.

You see, as confident as I was on the outside, I was still the same girl I always was on the inside. I hated my body from a young age. I used to even write abusive words on body parts I hated the most. I was never pretty enough, smart enough or good enough. And whether I was 12 or 32 that feeling didn’t change. Fact is, you can’t sell something you don’t believe in – and I was trying to sell myself, and I didn’t believe in myself.

Looking back (while cringe-worthy to admit) I wasn’t posting these photos for any other reason than for people to say, “Wow, you’re amazing, I want to be just like you.” I wanted to feel like I belonged in the popular club, exactly like when I was 12 years old on the sidelines with the other geeks, watching the cool chicks flip their scrunchie-tied hair and eat their white-bread PB&J sandwiches (yes, I was the mono-brow dork in the corner eating the stinky salami).

Okay, hold on. I know what you’re thinking.

No, I’m not a cynic. I’m not saying that every single bikini bum on the internet is crying out for likes. And whether you’re a size 6 or 26, I love nothing more than to see people shining with confidence and strutting their stuff. Heck, I’m a body confidence expert for Christ’s sake.

But what I will say is this: yes, being liked feels really good, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if your gut tells you the way you’re getting likes isn’t in line with what you believe in… ask yourself: what’s more important - attention? Or respect?

Dr Katherine Iscoe is a speaker, author and confidence expert. You can find more on her Instagram and website.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected]g.au. You can also visit their website, here.  

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