Content note: This post deals with themes of disordered eating. For support, please contact The Butterfly Foundation.
I can hear Laura Henshaw’s words are exiting from a cheek-reaching grin, enthusiasm pouring out with every sentence.
She talks quickly – like the passionate sometimes do – about all things health and fitness, how working out and hitting the gym makes her happy, her love of avocado and her passion for doing, and being, well.
A model, well-known Instagram star and law student, 24-year-old Henshaw is known – at least in her demographic – for the pursuit of her best and healthiest self. She’s known for her unparalleled devotion to making sure her very young, female followers know they should be kind, in every sense of the word, to their body. If they don’t feel like working out today, ditch it. If they want a treat, take it, stay balanced.
She has co-founded a website with friend and model Steph Claire Smith called Keep it Cleaner, where Smith and Henshaw provide “health and wellness inspiration” through blog posts, recipe and workout ideas.
But this acceptance of her body, and the knowledge that being well sits at the core of her mental state, wasn’t always the way.
“It was a horrible time,” she tells Mamamia on the phone, recounting a time in her life when food was her enemy, and her body moreso.
“I was following calorie counting accounts on Instagram, eating only fruit and veggies and doing every single thing I could to stay skinny.”
She was 18, trying to crack into the modelling industry and knew she had to be “stick thin” to have even a chance of getting work.
“I didn’t care about my health, I was extreme about everything. If my friends wanted to go out for dinner, I wouldn’t go if it wasn’t a really healthy restaurant, and I would get anxiety about the entire thing. I wouldn’t eat anything if I didn’t know how it was prepared. It controlled me.