When I had my first baby, 6 weeks after giving birth to my son, I went shopping only to realise that my body was no longer the same, and all the subliminal messages screams 

I remember breaking down crying in a fitting room, because nothing could fit me anymore, and all the subliminal messages around me were screaming – ‘Something is wrong with my body’. 

Right there and then I made a decision to open a boutique for women celebrating all bodies, no matter the size or shape you are. I founded Mary Rose NW Boutique, size-inclusive, body-positive promoting self-love and women empowerment. 

Women have been inundated with messages of unrealistic expectations and promoting body image that is far from reality for most people, putting pressure on women especially. 

Diet culture is the worshipping of thinness, attaching moral superiority to a smaller body. Our society is deeply ingrained in diet culture. Diet culture has its roots in the patriarchy and its goal is to keep women small, contained, and unheard. What would happen if we stepped into our power as female business owners? What if we stood up and said we are enough exactly as we are? We do not need to fit into one box. We are more than our bodies. 

The stats show: 

  • By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.
  • 79% of weight-loss program participants reported coping with weight stigma by eating more food.
  • Of American elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.

When I was between the ages of 10 and 12 my personal journey began with eating disorder, I developed obsessive compulsive disorder. This is when I developed anorexia and the need to control my eating habits. I never felt good enough, and as a young girl, I was never taught that my body was ok, just the way it was.  I grew up as a ballet dancer and from a very young age and I would look up to one type of body as an expectation of how I should look and as my body started to change, I felt the pressure to fit that mould. 

I spent 15 years of my life living with anorexia and bulimia. I was consumed with self-hatred at the deepest level. More than a decade later, I am not only comfortable discussing my journey, but I have stepped into an activism role with the mission of empowering people in all bodies to love and accept themselves. I believe when women step into their power, own their stories, no longer hide behind their smile, our world will change. I am sharing with you all how to become one of the most powerful leaders of tomorrow by loving your body today. 

 What would happen if instead of focusing on our self-body image and start to channel that energy on our passions and making a positive impact in the world? 

The world would change. Women have been oppressed for far too long. Standing up to diet culture not only means accepting our bodies for the beautiful, life-giving creations that they are but also knowing that you are valuable and worthy exactly as you are. 

That our bodies do not define us and we can focus that attention elsewhere. The amount of time we spend calculating, obsessing, and feeling negative about ourselves can be put towards changing the world. It is time to take our power back. It is time we learn to love and accept ourselves entirely, wholeheartedly, and unapologetically. Loving our bodies is not a feeling. Loving our bodies is an action. What is my body asking for at this moment? Recognizing, listening, and honouring those needs is what love for your body truly looks like. 

The journey towards self-love and body acceptance is not an easy one in our diet-obsessed culture. Everywhere you look there is an idealization of thinness. But the change needs to begin now. When we focus our attention away from our bodies and onto our innate worthiness, we are taking our power back. We are smashing the patriarchy, diet culture, and all the glass ceilings. Being free to accept our bodies and selves as we are and knowing we are worthy will help us breakthrough. When we love ourselves, we are unstoppable. 

My name is Julie Allen and I am the CEO of Mary Rose NW Boutique, the Founder of the Mary Rose Foundation, an author, and an eating disorder awareness activist. Our boutique is a size-inclusive, body acceptance, and self love promoting safe space for women in all bodies to shop and feel beautiful. The Mary Rose Foundation is a 501c3 that helps fund treatment for people suffering from eating disorders. 

I will be sharing my story and empowering women to love themselves just as they are at the Women Thrive Summit, March 20-31st hosted by the Women in Business Club. Join my talk and be inspired to claim back your power, and become an unstoppable woman.