AFTER years of hating her body, Becky Young decided something had to change.
The 28-year-old freelance events planner from London founded the Anti Diet Riot Club – which aims to stick the middle finger up at Britain’s body shaming culture – six months ago.
Following a packed launch night in Shoreditch, East London, in March – Becky now runs monthly events covering everything from body positive yoga and brunches, to radical life drawing, glitter boob painting and intuitive eating workshops.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Online Becky said: “I have been dieting on-and-off since I was a teenager.
“I was really anxious about my body. I went on my first diet when I was 14, and I was so exhausted with this cycle I kept going through. I’d feel horrible about myself and my body and guilty around food.
“I was feeling lots of shame, guilt and self-loathing. It felt really at odds with my true character to have this self-hatred about my body and around food, which I love.
Imogen Forte Becky Young was trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and hating her body for years
“I’ve made myself throw up and done a lot of bingeing but I wouldn’t say I had an eating disorder.
“Sometimes I would wish I had an eating disorder, I wanted to be thin so badly that I would’ve wished a mental illness on myself, but it never went there for me so I’m really pleased about that.”
Becky, who suffers from a rare form of bone disease, even fractured her hip in her quest for thinness – leaving her on crutches for several weeks.
She said: “I’d go through periods of really over-exercising and then do myself damage – and then not being able to walk because I did intensive stuff which wasn’t right for me.
“I have moderate mobility issues and I live with lots of pain. I’ve had three major operations. I walk with a limp and I have a scar.
“That’s also been an important part of my relationship with my body, because in my teens I couldn’t do as many sports and had to sit out of PE.
“After my last operation, in 2012, I had to be in bed for weeks on end and learn to walk again.”
Becky Young But now Becky is embracing her body – and her curves – and wants others to ditch the diet too
Becky’s turning point came during a seven-month trip round Central America two years ago when she stumbled upon a pic of her in India a year earlier.
She said: “I had really bad stomach problems but I looked really skinny – and since then I had put on weight.
“I just spiralled and thought I was an awful human being and had failed once more to keep the weight off and I’d wasted this opportunity.
“I decided to go on this really strict regime of exercise and restricting my intake of food. I was really upset, crying a lot.”
Becky Young The 28-year-old set up the Anti Diet Riot Club six months ago
At first, Becky was determined to resist the ‘temptation’ of Mexican tacos and beer – in favour of a strict exercise regime and diet.
But, while searching for #fitspo on Instagram, she stumbled upon a whole new world of body positive accounts.
She said: “I found these women who were living their life, embracing their bodies, refusing to go on diets and saying they were happy and healthy, and sick and tired of the same cycle I’d been on.
“They were fat and embracing their sensuality and living shame-free. It just really spoke to me and I realised that’s the sort of person I wanted to be.
“There are moments when I still look down at my belly or compare myself to others, but they feel like fleeting thoughts as opposed to when they would spiral and I would let them take over.
“I definitely have a lot more love for my body and myself now.”
Becky Young She now runs monthly events in London
Now Becky is helping other women find body acceptance in a bid to break our damaging ‘diet culture’ – with the hope of eventually expanding outside of the Capital, and speaking to kids in schools.
And, judging by the popularity around her events, it seems the idea is a long time coming.
She said: “I set up the Anti Diet Riot Club because I wanted to give back to the community who helped transform my outlook to my body, food and exercise.
“It felt like a natural progression for me.
“I really wanted to bring the community which was so active and present online into a real life space, because it’s important to get that face-to-face support – for myself, as well as to educate others.
“The events are always educational and practical. So people go away with tools which will help them live free of dieting.
“Our events are often have lots of questions at the end.
“It’s about people sharing and helping each other, finding a bond through the mutual relationship we all have with diets and foods and disordered bodies.”