“Drop a couple of dress sizes, get a personal trainer and a new wardrobe”. With comments like these directed at her, it’s no surprise radio personality Mel Greig has battled with body confidence. She shares her tips on how to love the skin you’re in.
Australian radio personality Mel Greig has been through a lot in her life, but throughout it all she’s felt a persistent devil on her shoulder, an obsession over her weight.
Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, Greig shares her story about the ‘skinny clothes box’ that haunted her for 6 years, before she finally gave it the boot.
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“It’s funny because when I look back on the actual box, I had written a warning sign, that said ‘skinny box of clothes, warning: do not open until you’re back down to 68 kilos’,” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Letting Go of Weight Obsession.
Having bought beautiful clothing on her honeymoon while moving towards her ‘perfect weight’, Greig didn’t realise at the time that this idealistic ‘goal figure’ wasn’t to be in the long-term.
“Finally, I looked at this box that was so damaged from being dragged around for six years, that I thought ‘this is ridiculous, open it and get rid of it. You’re not going to be 68 kilos anymore, ever again, and it doesn’t matter’,” Greg explains.
“It was the first time I ever felt liberated and I meant it that I didn’t care what size I was. I felt like a lot of weight, ironically, had been lifted off my shoulders when I did that with the box.”
While Greig is finally proud to accept her body, it hasn’t been an easy journey.
Throughout her career in media, she faced constant remarks about her looks and figure. “My mentality was that I needed to be skinny to be in media, so I wanted to be skinnier and skinnier,” she confides.
That perception came from years of scrutiny, and at one point she was even pulled into an ‘emergency meeting’ to discuss her image, where she was told to lose a couple of dress sizes, get a personal trainer and overhaul her wardrobe.
“I allowed that behaviour because I thought it was normal,” she says.
After breaking free of this toxic body-image mentality, Greig is keen to share how other women can channel her success and feel more confident in their bodies.
Realise that being skinny won’t fix everything
It was only on Greig’s final body transformation that she realised that being skinny wasn’t the missing piece of the puzzle that could fix everything.
“I’d just quit breakfast radio and I’m like ‘I’m going to do this transformation, people are going to see me looking skinny and amazing and I’m going to get a new job. I’m going to meet men’,” she tells Healthy-ish.
“The day the magazine came out, it was so bizarre. I’m looking at the photos and I’m like ‘yes, I look amazing’,” she says.
“Nothing changed. There was no instant rush of phone calls or people wanting to slide into my DMs. And I’m like ‘why did I think that would actually make such a difference’. And from there I really started taking the pressure off as to how I looked.”
Live fully in the skin you’re in
Despite her body transformation, Greig admits she was still very anxious about being seen in swimwear and tried to avoid the beach (which she loved).
After becoming a spokesperson for a body-positive swimwear campaign, Greig realised that she was going to have to ‘walk the walk’ and face her fears if she was going to do it authentically.
“I really started to look at myself and go ‘you do have a beautiful body’ because it’s got you through so much in life. You need to see it for more than just its physical shape and size,” she says.
“We are more than our bodies, but to really believe that you need to put it into practice and if you haven’t been to the beach – for me it’s been 5 years – you need to look at that and go ‘hey that is ridiculous, let me get my bathers on and let me go to the beach and enjoy one of the simplest pleasures of life. But we do it because we’re so fearful of being judged in our swimwear.”
For women who may be obsessing over their weight, Greig believes the biggest step in the right direction is to find acceptance and self-love.
“The day you accept your size is the day that you’ll finally feel free,” Greig says. “Until you look at your body as something more than just its shape and size you’ll always doubt yourself, you’ll always have confidence issues, you’ll never get to where you really want to go.”
Remember that your body performs so many vital processes every day that keep us healthy and alive, and we need to honour and respect all it does for us.
“I’ve always doubted my body or been repulsed by it. For once, I’m like, ‘No, this is a strong body and I need to give it the respect it deserves.”
“This time I’m looking back at my eight chins and I’m like, ‘that chin laughed at that moment’, ‘that chin enjoyed a pizza’, ‘that chin enjoyed some champagne’…I really truly do not care what I look like anymore.”
If you or anyone you know need help or support for an eating disorder or concerns about body image, please call Butterfly Foundation National Helpline on 1800 334 673.
Mental health professionals are available 24/7 at the beyondblue Support Service – 1300 22 46 36 or via beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3pm-12am AEST) or email response.