Health & NutritionPsychology

Learn to Love Yourself

Margherita Barbieri is only 18 years old but she traveled to death’s door and back having battled anorexia for 5 years. She calls out to other girls in England, where she lives to listen to her and fight anorexia because it can kill.

It all started when she was in ballet school and the teacher said her thighs were too large and unsuitable for ballet. Seeking perfection, (a dirty word that should be removed from ballet’s vocabulary) Margherita stopped eating regularly, as she was determined to get the perfect body of a ballet dancer and the approval of her teacher. Often she wouldn’t eat for two days and when she ate, it was only one bowl of porridge a day meaning her daily food intake was just 140 calories. In a short time she became anorexic.
The truth is that at 112 pounds Margherita started off in good health but soon learned to hate her body and strive for that elusive perfection that existed only in her mind triggered by the teacher’s words of disapproval. In a year flat she was half her original weight getting down to 56 pounds. It was then she began a long process of recovery.
Here are her words about that time: 'My weight was perfectly fine but I didn't realize that then, I was determined to become a better dancer so I started over-exercising without eating anything at all. It made me hate my body, the body I once loved, the body I was once proud of, and instead I turned against my appearance. I dropped four stone in a year to the point where I was told I was too thin to even have therapy, I began to enjoy punishing my body and I fell in love with hating myself.'

She created a list of more than 200 foods which she was too afraid to eat, including butter and chocolate. She used the list turning the foods she considered evil when she was ill into positive health building foods in her mind. This helped her overcome her disorder. As she ticked off more and more foods she gained the confidence to eat and currently weighs her original 112 pounds. She now enjoys all foods and is slowly learning to love her body again. She said: 'I eventually stopped being ashamed of my mental state and I knew I had to do something to improve my weight. I went from a tiny four stone (56 pounds in England) back to over eight and I feel and look so much healthier now. Some days I felt so weak that I couldn't get out of my bed, and I even developed kidney failure due to being so skinny. But now I no longer feel permanently exhausted and I'm making up for lost time and living life to the fullest.'

Margherita said: 'I still love and adore ballet but it comes with a lot of pressure and I have decided that I would rather pursue the musical theatre route.’ She also wants to raise people’s awareness to anorexia in order to help other young women who victims of eating disorders to overcome the illness.
'Suffering from an eating disorder is horrible, it controls your life, and recovering from it has been the hardest, most challenging thing I have ever done. My advice to everyone is to learn to love your body and yourself, have a good relationship with food, don't let anyone put you down. I think we should all be fighting for a cure for anorexia, it is a powerful illness that is often life threatening, I am so lucky that I chose to recover.' 
She is indeed lucky for many people did die from anorexia. We wish her all the best for her future and may she also succeed in getting other young women off of anorexia.


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