Anorexia survivor celebrates body positivity on Instagram

Abby Haglage
Photo: Instagram/my_life_without_ana
Photo: Instagram/my_life_without_ana

In 2016, Connie Inglis was rushed to the emergency room in the final stages of anorexia. A native of Leeds, England, the 21-year-old weighed the same as an average 5-year -old. Doctors warned her that if something didn’t change, she’d have only weeks to live. But like some of the 30 million people who suffer from eating disorders in the U.S., for Inglis, the disease was consuming her every thought.

“It got to the point where being in the hospital wasn’t good enough,” she said in an interview with BBC News about what would have satiated her anorexia in the height of her illness. “The only thing that would have been good enough was if my heart stopped.” At the time of her hospitalization in 2016, Inglis had been battling the disease for more than 10 years, enduring myriad ER visits and feeding tubes. The dire nature of this 2016 hospitalization gave her the push toward health that she needed.

Nearly two years later, Inglis is in recovery — healthy, full of optimism, and studying art at a university. After narrowly escaping death, she’s determined to support those also struggling with body-image issues. On her Instagram, @my_life_without_ana, the self-proclaimed “eating disorder warrior” posts pictures of her now healthy body, embracing her stomach rolls, cellulite, and butt.

Alongside #positivebeatsperfect, Inglis writes long captions encouraging her followers to challenge the societal norms surrounding beauty — which, fittingly, pervade the very medium she’s using. “I thought you had to have a perfectly flat tummy to be beautiful! NOPE I’m sorry but I call bullshit on that one!” Inglis writes in one post. “BODIES MOVE!! Nobody’s tummy is flat all the time! Learn to love the body your in! It’s beautiful and so are you!!!”

Inglis makes a point to show herself in an authentic way, a deliberate departure from those who normalize unattainable (and sometimes unhealthy) body images. “I don’t Photoshop, I don’t use editing on Instagram, I don’t put filters on there,” Inglis tells the BBC in the video. “I do try and show the reality of what a normal body is. Not everyone has to look like a Victoria’s Secret model all the time.”

In recent years, scientists have found evidence that these pervasive images do more than affect women’s views of beauty — they actually lower their self-esteem. A study from the New Media and Society journal in September found that the more time women spent looking at “fitspo” images and models, the worse they felt about their own bodies. The researchers suggested that correlation was connected to other mental disorders as well, including anxiety and depression.

It’s more proof that Inglis is revolutionary. For her 90,000 followers, she’s not only showing that recovery from eating disorders is within reach; she’s also promoting a healthy body image that could transform not only the way women see each other but also themselves.

o access the National Eating Disorder Association’s emergency help line, text “NEDA” to 741741, or visit its website for more information.

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