It’s that special time of year again where people relax a little about what they eat. The cold winter months prompt us to flood into coffee houses in pursuit of a hot beverage and a festive slice of cake. Why not? It’s Christmas, after all.
We tell ourselves that we deserve it because by January 1st we will be signing ourselves up for a frenzied diet in an attempt to shift the additional weight we gained over December (November and October, if we’re being honest with ourselves). But that’s not the case for everyone. How would you feel about canceling those diet plans? And disregarding that enticing New Year gym discount? Could you embrace the turkey and Toblerone baby which you will be carrying in a few weeks time? For Belfast blogger, Danica Marjanovic, this is the plan. The 24-year-old, who boasts 35,000 followers on Instagram, is on a one-woman mission to encourage body positivity. A self-confessed “fat activist” she wants people to feel happy in their own skin after becoming “miserable” whilst a size 10 (US size 8). “When I was at my lowest weight I was the most self-conscious, paranoid, anxious, obsessive and self-destructive I have ever been,” the aspiring plus-size model wrote on Instagram. “I’m working on being HAPPY not a dress size.” Marjanovic, who has suffered from body dysmorphia, is desperately trying to learn to love herself after “years of eating disorders” took their toll on her mental health. Body dysmorphia causes people to become obsessive about perceived flaws in their appearance.
“I wanted to punish my body. I remember now in London clearly wanting to punish my body through starvation as a penance of ‘letting’ my body get obese in childhood. I got a thrill out of the feeling of an empty stomach – my tummy rumbling was a game to see how flat I could make my stomach and if I slept in passed 3pm GREAT! I’ve already skipped two meals without even trying. My mindset was TOXIC.”
“I have really bad memory due to blocking things out as a go-to coping mechanism,” the 24-year-old recalls of her time as a size 10. “I’ve always had a curvy body, so I think that’s also what played into my body dysmorphia. Even when I was so slim, I was probably about a size 10 on top, [and] to me that still wasn’t good enough.” “I was so confused and unaware of how damaging my behavior was to my physical and mental body. I would just have to face the consequences of the panic attacks, the deep depression, the intrusive thoughts all because I didn’t know the signs of an eating disorder.” “There is no set appearance for an eating disorder,” Marjanovic continued, revealing photographs of her with a slimmer, seemingly happy form. After a particularly difficult breakup, Marjanovic chose to move back to her mother’s home to focus on facing the problems she’d been hiding. “I went through a really nasty break up which kind of brought to the surface a lot of mental health issues that I have been battling with for years that I never really got the right help [for],” she said. “I quit my job, and I had to move back home to my mom’s house.” After returning home to face her problems, she began to blog about body positivity. “My blog helps me deal with my mental health firstly because showing my body is obviously helping my self-esteem which is [having] a huge impact on my depression – I see it like my online diary,” she said of her decision to make her very personal journey so public. Now a UK size 16 (US size 14), Marjanovic is the happiest she has ever been. “I refuse to conform to the toxicity of guilt and shame that is laced deeply within diet culture and this society,” she wrote in a message that she shared with her thousands of followers, and added, “no one will ever make me feel ashamed of myself.” “I have experienced two sides of the weight spectrum and I can tell you that anyone that shames or bullies you for being fat and uses ‘health concerns’ as a dumb easy way to approve their behavior should be fully ignored till their prejudice is educated otherwise.”
“Everyone’s way of showing care to themselves is so unique, [and] we cannot ASSUME people’s health by what they are or not doing. I have made leaps and bounds of recovery process from as a little as three months ago, two weeks ago, even yesterday! Self care does not mean you have to work out 5 times a week eat a certain way, please remember this. People can influence you and encourage you and that’s brilliant, but you need to work out what is beneficial for YOU and no one else.” “I’m confident to say after years of not going to therapy when I should have, I developed my own strong sense of self-awareness through a lot of self-reflection with my feelings,” wrote the Irish native on her Instagram page to mass applaud from her fans. “You inspire me every day. Thank you for being you,” wrote one user, whilst another added, “Your (sic) the real definition of beauty.” “This is amazing. I’m so thankful for accounts like yours because you are helping so many people,” one supportive user wrote in response to Marjanovic’s body positive posts. Marjanovic is now aspiring to become a plus-size model, having entered the 2017 Ms. Curvaceous competition. However, in the meantime, she hopes to keep promoting body positivity via her blog, which is growing at a rapid rate. Marjanovic, however, isn’t the only woman on a mission to change people’s perception of beauty. Meet 34-year-old Dolly Singh, a plus-size Yogi, who is taking her work to the streets of Mumbai, India. Check out this inspiring video below: We wish Marjanovic all the best in her continued recovery from her mental health problems.