Today’s post features the gorgeous Aurora’s Angel, Olivia who opens up about her mental health struggles and the impact social media has had on her mindset. Liv has been part of the squad for 10 months and has grown a love for the brand as well as its ethos. She shares that having struggled with self-love Aurora’s Angels has shone a light on female empowerment, supporting all shapes and sizes of women. This has built Liv’s confidence, as she once felt so demoralised due to not looking like the stereotypical fashion model seen on clothing sites.
We spoke to Liv about the online world and how people are aiming to obtain this ‘picture perfect’ lifestyle that they see on the likes of Instagram. It became clear that she was extremely keen for people to learn that what is showcased online isn’t an accurate representation of someone’s entire life. Olivia let us know that if you were to look at her own profile (@livashman) you would not know that in reality, she has struggled with both depression and her body image.
Explaining that there isn’t enough awareness of taboo topics, particularly online, Liv lets us know that she has never had anyone to relate to as nobody wants to let their guard down and seem unfiltered. Our girl states “I want to share my experience to help empower other women, and prove you are not alone no matter what you are experiencing”.
My depression journey began when I first started secondary school, whilst most pupils enjoyed this time of their lives I experienced the complete opposite. After having some trouble with a few girls, I became extremely uncomfortable in the school environment; resulting in beginning counselling sessions. However, these sessions didn’t seem to help, and I would experience uncontrollable periods of anxiety; which led to me sitting in the bathroom for the majority of the lesson. As the years progressed this only got worse and worse, to the point where I couldn’t face going to school and having to fake that I was ok.
Then one day I completely broke down, nobody understood me. People would make comments and ask, “why is she always crying?”. I didn’t want to be perceived as an ‘attention seeker’, but I couldn’t handle the daily struggle anymore.
At a young age, I was dealing with a lot. As well as uncontrollable anxiety I was being mocked for my delayed female development. Being a lot smaller than my peers I found myself questioning my beauty. This period of my life was extremely damaging to my self-esteem, particularly with the growth of social media (which opened a portal of beautifully developed women; something I craved to be). Social media can be such a destructive platform for teenagers as they constantly feel reminded about an expectation of beauty and worth.
I found myself going down a dark path, which inevitably resulted in me suffering with Bulimia. Over time I have learned that we are all a thing of beauty, we are all unique and we should all feel good enough in our own skin. Although I still have bad days comparing myself to the latest Instagram model, I no longer delete photos of myself or cut my food portions in an attempt to lose weight.
Sometimes I think I should change how I look to fit in but then I realise - different is good. Growing up I was told, “the person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd”. Being your own person is the most attractive and amazing thing you could do. Why would you want to be the same as everyone else when you are incredible just by being yourself?
In this day and age, people are falling into the trap of believing everything they see as reality when in actual fact editing tools are used daily. I see so many images on my feed from big brands and influencers that have OBVIOUSLY been photoshopped and sometimes I just unfollow those accounts because why promote false images? I think stretch marks, scars and skin discolouration are beautiful, and nobody should feel the need to cover those up. To me, imperfections are beautiful. I personally could never use photoshop because I’ve found the confidence in my body I didn’t ever think I could have, and I want to stay true to myself. This society is difficult to feel like you fit in, but you do.
Us as individuals need to not be so blind sighted by what we are exposed to online. Companies are beginning to understand that we are all diverse and I feel like the industry is becoming more open to sizes and ethnicities, and even genders which is amazing! However, some brands simply haven’t understood the concept. I’ve come across brands promoting a plus size range with models that are a similar build to me, does that make me ‘plus size’? – Something that wouldn’t have crossed my mind if I hadn’t seen their campaign.
Your perception of yourself is such a crucial element to happiness, you should feel comfortable in your own skin. My personal battle with my body image has been a tough journey, particularly since I was diagnosed with depression at the beginning of the year. Struggling with my body has been really difficult and learning to find that inner confidence was hard. One day I’d be okay with what I see in the mirror then my mood would switch, and I’d hate my image.
Although I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, good days and bad days, I’m not afraid to speak out. It’s a learning curve, and something I will learn to deal with and manage over time. Whilst many people are afraid to speak out, it’s so important to know that you are not alone. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s a battle people face every day, but you come out stronger and that’s what I try and remember.
What people need to realise is, depression isn’t sadness - it’s feeling empty. Anxiety and depression are scary, but it's real and you don't have to feel alone. It may seem like the world is on your shoulders and you’re in a dark hole, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Surround yourself with people you love, keep yourself busy, try counselling. Speak to someone, do things YOU love to do. Find a new hobby, meet new people. It’s okay to have bad days, just focus on yourself and look forward to the future. You are amazing and what you’re going through is one of the bravest things anyone can do.
If you are struggling with anxiety or depression helplines and services are available below:
Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)