The following deals with disordered eating, which may be triggering for some readers.
Shame is the sort of feeling I’ve known for most of my life in one way or another. The shame of growing up on welfare. The shame of having all of these family secrets my mum always warned me not to share.
I wasn’t known for being a "fat kid" in school, but at five years old, my endocrinologist was constantly making me feel like one. My monthly appointments left me feeling ashamed that I kept putting on weight, but I was too young to understand why or what it meant.
All I really knew was the shame.
Then when I was about seven, my mum said something to me I’ll never forget.
Watch: Taryn Brumfitt on the body-acceptance photo that broke the internet.
We had a neighbour friend over — the only one my mother allowed. Since she lived in the same apartment complex as us, my mum didn’t object to her seeing how poor we really were.
Before the friend left, we ate frozen yogurt in the kitchen. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but once our neighbour went home, my mother chastised me.
"You looked at your food like you were in love with it! Sheila saw the look on your face and she thought you were crazy."
This is something my mum did a lot — she needlessly criticised me for normal kid things and often told me what other people were thinking. As if she could know.
But I was young. When she told me I looked crazy and that my friend wordlessly agreed, all I could feel was confusion and shame. What had I done wrong? Why was I such a freak?
Of course, I’m now the mother of a six-year-old girl. She doesn’t have any food or body issues. She eats with food freedom and knows when she’s done. And it’s never occurred to me that I should judge her for enjoying her food.