Warning: This article discusses eating disorders which may be triggering for some readers.
Zara McDermott has shared the devastating effects of being fat shamed online before losing weight and then being accused of triggering anorexia.
After McDermott took part in the 2018 series of Love Island, she went on holiday and after sharing pictures from her trip, she was inundated with comments calling her a ‘fat whale’ and a ‘unit’.
“I went from being an innocent 21-year-old who never looked in the mirror or over-analysed my body to thinking, ‘Should I start viewing myself differently because other people are?’
“That was really hard at 21, and I realised the power and impact of social media on your self-esteem and how that can affect your body image. I was told so many times I was fat and there’s a finite amount of times you can hear that before you actually start to believe it.”
She eventually lost three stone through healthy eating and exercise, however, she was then accused of triggering eating disorders in others.
Zara has 1.7million followers on Instagram and also runs a food and fitness page, A Day with Zara, where she shares her healthy eating habits including fruit and veg and exercise.
The former government policy advisor will address eating disorders in an upcoming BBC Three documentary, Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating, where she met teens suffering from eating issues who told her she was 'part of the problem'.
“I was absolutely devastated to hear that,” she revealed to The Sun.
Calling filming ‘an eye-opening experience’, Zara said the two teens at Schoen Clinic in Birmingham helped her to understand ‘that something posted and perceived in the wrong way contributes to the problem’ which was ‘hard to hear’.
Zara’s attitude to her body was completely changed overnight after being the subject of trolling.
She weighed a healthy 10st 7lbs, but she says that the comments from the holiday snaps were ’99 percent negative’.
“It made me feel absolutely horrendous," she adds.
After making the documentary, she has overhauled her fitness page after realising that posting the calories you’re eating in a day plus precise measurements ‘is extremely damaging’.
Zara has now put an end to the calorie-counting posts and the page currently features a delicious range of meals, from a mouth-watering peanut salmon teriyaki bowl to a juicy Five Guys burger.
This type of transparency is definitely needed in society.
According to NHS figures, admissions for eating disorders have risen 84 per cent in the past five years, with more than 10,000 children starting treatment between April and December 2021.
Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating airs on BBC Three on 22 November.
If you've been affected by any of the issues in this article and would like to speak with someone in confidence, call the BEAT Eating Disorders helpline on 0808 801 0677. Helplines are open 365 days a year from 9am–8pm during the week, and 4pm–8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Alternatively, you can try the one-to-one webchat
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