By ROSIE WATERLAND
Yesterday, Australian actor Daniel MacPherson Instagrammed a couple of shots of himself as a kid. A cute, smiling, chubby kid. And school captain no less. He used the hashtag #raidingmumsphotodrawer and looked to be having a lovely stroll down memory lane. And he WAS super cute. Take a look:
People commented on the photos with things like “Nawwww …. Those cheeks” and “What a beautiful happy smile!!!”
Then Daniel dropped a truth bomb. He may have been a cute, smiling, chubby kid, but he was also the kid who was teased to the point that he would come home from school and cry. The kid who was picked last for sports teams and picked on in general. That kid. He posted this comment:
I was the fat kid in school. Teased? Sure. Names? Sure. Last picked for teams? Sure. And there were nights as a youngster I’d come home and cry and want to change schools. Sure. But in my teens i discovered sports I loved, and that led to friendships and travel and great mates. And that led to hard work and competing and eating better and training hard and getting the most out of life… So kids listen up. If this is you, trust me, it gets better. You grow, you change, you learn. And you discover the power you have to make better choices. So rip in, go hard and dont be afraid to chase what you love. And don’t let the kids calling you names in school get ya down…. Show em what ya made of. #dmacpreach
The comment accompanied this before and after photo:
He looks great. Incredible even.
But. (And it’s not a big but, but it’s still a but.)
The message involved made me slightly uncomfortable. I get what MacPherson was trying to do. Telling kids who are going through the crappy time you once went through that ‘it gets better’ is a huge deal. It can really help.
But it felt to me like the message of hope he was putting out there was – unintentionally, I’m sure – a message based on appearance. I get that this is Instagram – hardly the place where you’re expected to articulate via thoughtful essay what’s on your mind. And I don’t think MacPherson was going out of his way to imply that losing weight automatically equals happiness.
But to me, the photos did seem to imply that if you’re being teased and don’t like your body, you should work hard to change how you look and then you’ll feel better. That “Show em what ya made of” means eventually being able to post a ‘before and after’ shot where you basically look like a muscle god.
And hey, there’s no doubt it’s worked for Daniel McPherson. He looks fantastic.
But not every cute, smiling, chubby kid out there is going to end up looking like a muscle god. What about them?
I’ve written quite a bit about gaining a drastic amount of weight over the last few years due to an eating disorder. Having never had a weight problem before, it’s been extremely difficult for me to deal with. I didn’t realise how much of my self-worth relied on my appearance until I had no self-worth left. Getting fat made me feel like I was worth nothing.It’s taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to readjust my thinking so that I find worth and value in myself not related in any way to how I look. It’s not easy, but I do it. I do it because I’ll almost certainly never have the body I once did, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ever deserve to be happy. I do it because I’m shocked at how quickly and easily I fell to pieces both emotionally and mentally just because of an increasing number on a scale.