Tag Archives: love

Lauren’s Story

I get asked a lot “why Skin Deep?”. What have I experienced to lead me to want to start this conversation? So for the first time, on World Mental Health Day, I want to share my story but assert again that you don’t have to be an expert to start a conversation – you just have to care.

I remember playing in my English neighbourhood with my best friend, told to “go back to where you came from” and those at primary school who chose to bully me because I didn’t wear brand named clothes. Lucky for me my family, friends and school built me up to be stronger than they’ll ever be.

Lauren young

In younger more confident days!

At 12 years old the school nurse stuck me on some scales as part of a check up and told me I was slightly overweight for my height before sending me on my way. Thanks for that information, which I had no idea what to do with. It was probably the first time I’d thought about my weight like that.

Australia came…a quick, joyous leap into an exotic unknown. My accent was of great interest to everyone and I made fast friends with the kids at school. Darwin was up next; a multicultural haven with people I fell head over heels in love with, making high school a relatively blissful time, although I can trace back early stages of excessive anxiety to then.

I was healthy. A little bit of puppy fat perhaps, but happy, healthy and carefree – until I wasn’t. In year 10, I heard about some dangerous sub cultures on the internet about eating disorders, and decided THAT was what I was going to do my English oral presentation on. I delivered a passionate talk on why these pages should be permanently shut down, but will admit that I read more on them than I needed to for a three minute presentation, and at that stage of my life. My diaries started to reflect a different attitude toward my body.  Any little comment about my body or weight, now matter how well intentioned, became almost a challenge for me…I wanted to prove how much I didn’t care, even though I did.

18. Boys. Going out. New clothes. Alcohol. A strong group of friends meant that I made it through, body and self esteem mostly intact. I went on a weight loss program and sustainably lost weight over 12 months; something I was very proud of. Looking back, it’s funny how much your body and the focus of others upon it factors in for many of us.

I moved interstate with my then boyfriend. It started to fall apart. I distinctly remember days of calling my parents and friends in tears; hitting the gym to avoid home and dealing with my feelings; an incredibly kind colleague and friend who brought to work an extra sandwich to make sure I was eating, checking in and hanging out (I never did thank you enough). Around then it happened. The conflict between feeling strong in your decisions and yet so utterly broken. The surge of nausea; of anxiety and grief. The mental battle between logic; what I KNOW and the intense desire to control something. ANY THING. I purge.

It was not a regular occurrence but something that remained in the background for a while. It never made me feel any better; in fact it confused me, broke my heart and made me question what I knew about myself. At some point I made the decision to tell a couple of people around me. I needed to have people to be accountable to because I knew I was teetering on the edge of an incredibly slippery slope.

I had moved back to Darwin, maintaining my health kick of gym-ing, healthy food and growing a very large pile of health magazines. People complimented me while my ‘control’ mechanism, however irregular, had turned my thoughts about food into ones of guilt and control; my measure of success and achievement was whether I could fit in more incidental exercise. Tracking websites were king. Mum had cottoned on that there might be some thing going on, but deny, deny, deny. I didn’t want people to worry. I was very self-aware of losing interest and enjoyment from things I had before; I was exceptionally scared of failure (something I embrace now).

There came a point where I decided that I wanted to seek help for my anxiety. After many phone calls and google searches about how much it would cost (in some cases quite high), I took the plunge through a free appointment associated with the place I worked for at the time. “I’ll hint at the past control coping mechanisms and the little voice that tells me it will help” I thought. It didn’t work. I was told that some young girls do it for attention before moving on to an electronic check list for my anxiety that I’d done myself previously on the internet. Needless to say, I never went back to him.

Lauren & Jake

Lauren & Jake now

I had started to do my own research and got involved with youth mental health services; their information helped me, and helping others helped me. Something else happened though…I met my partner Jake. Wow. When Jake and I started dating we hit up every beautiful place in town. We tried new things while we rapidly fell in love. I was falling in love with something else too. I was quickly regaining my love for food and the pleasure, the bonding that can come with a beautiful food experience. We would walk on the beach or trails, but it was just about hanging out, being ourselves and seeing some cool things. He wholeheartedly supported everything I did, and listened, even when he didn’t understand. I connected with an excellent psychologist about my anxiety who didn’t discount anything I raised and who gave me strategies and encouragement. I began to feel again like I am enough.

So when we encouraged others to do the Mission Australia Survey of Young Australians in 2010, and someone told me they felt guilty for putting body image down as their number one personal concern, as though it was too trivial, we had to do it. The Skin Deep conversation had to happen. About a year and a half ago I listened to a friend recount her eating disorder experience at a conference and while I never would profess to have had that experience, I left the room with tears in my eyes for all who have experienced that voice inside that defies all logic.

I’m still a little all or nothing. I have to exercise (no pun intended) restraint around buying health magazines and ‘tracking’ my activities. I don’t want to look at food as fuel, because I don’t think that’s good for me. Most importantly, I steer clear of making any one thing my crutch to cope when things get stressful and rely on a range of different things. Food is not good nor bad. It’s about balance, and feeling good. And hell. I love myself. There, I said it. And it feels good.

It is my wish that no other young person seeking help, is dismissed. It’s my wish that other young people who recognise the signs that things aren’t right for them get the support that they need and that those who are in places much, much worse than I ever was receive the care that they need from professionals with some understanding of what they are going through. It’s time.

Every day I reflect and I feel so completely, overwhelmingly grateful for my lot in life. My family, friends, mentors, experiences, the people who share their stories and thoughts with me, and the platforms to start something so important to me completely fills my heart and soul, and I’m so appreciative to share this with other people.

For help in relation to eating disorders you can call the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 ED HOPE / 1800 33 4673 Monday–Friday 8am to 9pm, or email them. There are fact sheets and help available for young people 12 – 25 years through headspace. For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

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The beauty of these scars (Renee Mangohig)

Warning: This story contains images and recall of a serious motor vehicle accident and suicidal thoughts and may be triggering for some. Please seek professional assistance if you find the images or story confronting. Lifeline is a 24-hour crisis support line and can be reached on 13 11 14.

Renee Mangohig.

Renee Mangohig.

My name is Renee Adele Mangohig. I am 29 years old and I am married to my high school sweetheart, Mark Mangohig. We have 2 beautiful children, Liliana Grace and Isaiah James. Reading this you are probably thinking, “What do you have to contribute to matter of self­esteem?”

This is my story.

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Mum’s the word! (Skin Deep team)

Today the team has compiled some musings on our Mums and what they have done to make us who we are today: your fearless Body Image warriors! Take a look at all the reasons we adore our Mums and then join the conversation in the comments section below or in our Stunning Sunday post over on Facebook!

Jess (@JessTait)

Well it’s Mother’s Day and my Mum is nowhere to be seen. That’s not because she is an absent mother, or has come to ill fate – it’s because she is focusing on self-care and looking after herself right now, which is part of the reason I love and admire her so much.

When I think about all the things my Mum has taught me, I become a little emotional. I mean, Mums do an awful lot for us kids, don’t they? Along with our Fathers, siblings and other special people, they give us the ingredients we need to become the people we’re going to be.


Mum and her girls, circa 1999

There are some lessons and ideas that I still think about and practice on a daily basis, and these are the ones I will be endeavouring to pass on to my children one day. Here are the three that are particularly relevant to me now:

  • Growing up, there were no scales in our house. I don’t know whether this was a deliberate choice or just the simple fact that the old ones broke and Mum never got around to buying new ones. Either way, I am thankful every day for this. I learnt to not know or acknowledge a number, let alone obsess over it. I don’t own any scales now and even if one day I do, I know they’ll just be another appliance – not something that rules and ruins my life.
  •  Let kids be kids. We were given “boy” toys and “girl” toys as children and allowed to wear/play/act in whatever gender role we wanted. There was no stereotyping “that’s a boy toy” or “you can’t play football, you’re a girl” business – we were allowed to be kids. This is one thing I am suuuuuper passionate about now and will do my best to pass on to my kids of the future.
  • Know that you will make the right decision for yourself. When I was going through the toughest time in my life, Mum and Dad were there for me, of course. However, they stood back a little and encouraged me to reflect on things and make my own decision. This instilled in me a self-belief and confidence that I could make the right decision for myself without anyone needing to tell me what to do. Knowing they trusted me to do the right thing for me was life-changing.

Mum has also cared about important things for as long as I can remember. She is a member of Greenpeace and is extremely passionate about the environment and sustainable living. Along with Dad, she’s always been clear with us about her religious and political beliefs, but accepting of difference if we were to choose another path. She takes time to do the things she loves including Chi Kung, bushwalking and cycling.

So I’m sure most of you who know me can see exactly where I have come from. A passionate, politically and socially engaged, intelligent and progressive Mother who is generous and loyal.


Mum and her girls on my wedding day, 2010

Lauren (@MissLaurenMoss)

There are lots of lessons that we learn from our mums.

My mum grew up in the small town of Crewe (where I also grew up) in England, and her family would have at that time been one of the only families in the ‘hood that were different. See, my grandad was an Indian man. Growing up we were not extremely well off, and I was subject to bullying more than once about my skin colour or not wearing brand names. Mum always taught me that none of those things were important in life.


Mum put herself through uni while raising two children, stood up for animal rights not only in discussion but in action and was always a hard worker, prepared to do what needs to be done. One of the best pieces of advice I remember from her is “don’t whinge about it if you’re not willing to do anything about it”. I like to think that the hard work, multitasking and passion for action and change are things I have inherited from her. For my brother and I there were never any pressures on what we should be in life, just that it should make us happy.


The definition of a proud Mum!

Rachael Bettiens (@rarabeans)

What has my Mum has taught me? Confidence & Self Belief. Mum taught me to trust my instincts and believe in my own ability to make the right decisions for myself. I’m sure one of the hardest things to do as a mother is to offer advice but ultimately let your adult children make, and take ownership of, their own decisions and indeed life. All my Mum has ever wished for is the best for me, and in allowing me the freedom and support that she has I’ve blossomed into a fairly gutsy individual, if I do say so myself!


Me and Mum. Yes, we’re Melbourne Storm supporters…don’t judge us! 😉

Three and a half years ago I was living in Melbourne, and whilst totally unsuspecting I met a handsome and goofy young man who stole my heart. Yeah, gross, I know! The only “problem” I faced was that he lived on the opposite side of the country, in Darwin! A whirlwind romance ensued and very quickly it was made clear that for it to work for us either he had to move, or I did! I had a short holiday in Darwin and fell in love with the place. It’s impossible not to, isn’t it?!

When I went home I went around to my Mum’s place and as we downed many cups of coffee we talked the whole situation out. I know it must have been hard on Mum – I’d only just moved down to Melbourne to escape Sydney two years before, and she’d moved down at the same time. Now I was talking about moving thousands of kilometres away to live with someone I’d met three months earlier and spent only 14 actual days with! It seemed like madness but Mum had absolute faith that I would make the right decision. She has always believed in me, and that goes a long way in instilling self-belief in myself.

Fast-forward and I’m here in Darwin and loving my life. I’m in a loving and fulfilling relationship and a world of opportunities have opened up for me here – I’m involved in my community, I’ve found amazing friends and I’m part of the Skin Deep Project with these crazily inspiring individuals! My Mum is very proud of all that I’ve achieved and I know I just wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her unfaltering support. We continue to have the closest of close relationships. My Mum is and always will be the best friend and mother a gal could ever hope for. If I end up to be half the woman she is I know I’ll make the world a better place.

Rachel Warland

Becoming a mum gave Mother’s Day a whole new meaning for me. It made me realise being a Mum really is the best job in the world. In a blink my newborn baby girl is turning 2 this month. The unsettled nights, sing a longs, learning to talk, even the tantrums I wouldn’t change for the world. But becoming a Mum also made me admire and respect my own mother even more.

My beautiful Mum didn’t have a picturesque childhood, but is someone who constantly puts others before herself and is so warm hearted and giving. Mum is someone many people look to for support and advice when things get tough. And the values and advice I have learned over the years I learned from her. As a teen I was the typical teenage girl, stubborn, disrespectful and the queen of back chatting. There are things I said and things I did that I will always wish I didn’t do/say to my Mum. But no matter what she was and always will be there for me.

I learned to appreciate people for who they are not what they look like, to see true beauty and never to judge a book by its cover. Because of how I was brought up I see the world in a way not everybody can. I see the good in everyone. These traits wholeheartedly come from my beautiful Mum.

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Mothers Day in our family isn’t just about celebrating our Mums. We celebrate our Mums, Mums in law, daughters who are now Mums and of course the Grandmothers who helped everyone get to where they are today.

Today I want to let everyone know how thankful I am to have a wonderful Mum, Mum in law and my beautiful Nanna, all in Darwin for me to spoil. I am who I am as a mother from traits I learned and continue to learn from all of you.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Mother’s Day. Give your Mums (and this includes the special people in our lives who are like mothers), a big cuddle. But remember Mother’s Day can be any day. And always remember to tell those special women how loved they are.

Laura (@LauraKRowe)

Positive body image is something I have had a long term interest in and though joining the Skin Deep team my passion for it has grown deeper. I can’t say though that my Mother ever pushed the message of positive body image on me as a child, but what she did do was something really special. My Mother put absolutely zero emphasis on my appearance; it may sound like an odd thing to say but my Mum just never though it was important. What she was concerned about was am I doing well in school? Am I being polite? I’m so thankful that my Mum has instilled in me the values of a good work ethic, the importance of being self-reliant and doing what you have to do to get by.

That last bit has been really been highlighted for me this week, my mother has been a Mental Health nurse for the last 30ish years and it has for the most part been a thankless job, Friday night she was awarded the Mental Health Nurse of the year award and she later told me and my brothers that she did it all so that we could get by. That’s what I find so incredible about my mum she sacrifices her all for work and me and my brothers, it’s a value she has instilled in me and something I aim to achieve, it doesn’t matter what I look like.

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Dear Diary (Rachel Warland)

Rachel and HayleyRachel is a young Territorian, friend, wife and mother to beautiful Hayley.

I have been inspired to write this blog after reading a workbook from my English class in year 7. I wrote a ‘dear diary’ entry to my teacher. In this entry I said ‘I wish other kids weren’t so mean’ and that something special about myself is that I’m an individual.

At 25 I can still remember how 11 year old me felt that day. And can still say I wish people weren’t so mean and that I’m proud to be an individual.

Body image has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. It has directly affected my self esteem. In particular because of my weight. I grew up always being a bigger girl. And through all my school years was teased for being ‘fat’. Like many other overweight children/people I have good days and I have not so good days. I wish that people wouldn’t be so quick to judge based on size and took the time to realise there is much more to a person then the outside. I have felt insecure, out of place and not good enough.

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