by Nadia Mahmood
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“Singapore is a judgemental and conservative country,” said Mary Victor. “I am constantly worried about what I can do to make myself look smaller or more beautiful.”
Mary, a 23-year-old from Singapore is plus sized. On top of modelling, she helms various talents under her belt including makeup artist, life coach, as well as founding the body neutrality community movement #TheBodyWithin.
Growing up, Mary Victor’s physique did not fit into the ideal body type considered acceptable in society. “Why do you look so fat?” and “Do you do anything to lose weight?” are only some of the negative remarks she received, pressuring her to lose weight.
“I would try something new every week and I would give up because I did not see a single difference in my body,” Mary Victor reflects. Coupled with pressure from family to control her diet, she developed major insecurity issues and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Not only did her insecurities lead her to develop an unhealthy relationship with food and her body, but it also alienated her from her support system. She kept her worries and struggles to herself out of fear of becoming a burden to her loved ones, worsening her struggles and mental health. “Even until now, I still struggle to love myself,” she observes.
Realising the dangers of her condition, she slowly changed her approach to prioritise her health through self love and acceptance. Now, Mary Victor leads a healthy lifestyle physically and mentally while advocating for an inclusive community.
“Everyday I have a reflection period and I’d look at what I can do to make myself a better person today. Whatever you do, just make sure that you are doing it in a controlled manner and not over doing something like overeating or over exercising.”
Seeing other women share her body image struggles drove Mary Victor to advocate and start a body neutrality movement, #TheBodyWithin.
“It’s basically not putting the pressure on how you physically look and accepting (yourself) at the moment,” Mary explains body neutrality. “There are so many interesting things about you and 90% is not about your body,” she pointedly notes.
Through #TheBodyWithin, she advocates for people to speak up and seek support. “I wish I hadn’t kept it to myself for so long and confided in someone sooner, someone who understood my situation, and just asked for help,” Mary reflected.
With over 100 women who have shared their own struggles and stories through #TheBodyWithin, she encourages everyone to support each other and challenge the body image status quo in Singapore.
Her mission is simple – for society to accept everyone of all shapes and sizes with an inclusive and supportive community.
Watch Mary Victor’s full interview here:
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