By Maddison Leach|
Body positive influencer Riley Hemson was just 10 years old the first time she decided her New Year's resolution would be to lose weight.
"My New Year's resolution was to lose weight, every year," she tells 9Honey exclusively of her childhood and teenage years.
"I remember being 10 years old and that was my goal for the year ahead. I was a confident, active, happy 10-year-old but this pressure to be thinner was always there."
READ MORE: How our favourite royal families celebrate New Year's Eve
Every year, millions of Australians feel the pressure to start a new diet or kick off a weight loss journey on January 1, with a 2022 Finder survey revealing diet and exercise-related resolutions are by far the most common in the nation.
More than 28 per cent of Aussies committed to losing weight last year, but research from the University of Scranton found just 8 per cent of people achieve their resolutions and many are left feeling worse off for it.
Hemson was one of those people for years, confessing that she "always felt worse" after vowing to change her body every year.
"I would feel like I had failed when my unrealistic goals of going on a run at 5am didn't work out the way I had planned," she says.
"It was always the same. Every year I would be excited to start this new fitness or weight loss journey, I'd set unrealistic expectations and then tell myself 'I'll start tomorrow'."
READ MORE: 'The walk out of the water to cover myself was mortifying'
Eventually her New Year's resolutions turned into a cycle of binge eating followed by intense restriction, and Hemson's story isn't uncommon.
Studies have shown that New Year's resolutions focused on weight loss can be triggering for those struggling with an eating disorder or who are at risk of developing one.
What's worse is that even people who don't make resolutions related to weight are still bombarded with advertising about diets and 'body transformations' every January.
"It's almost like you can't escape the marketing tactics surrounding the New Year weight loss goals. It's on social media, tv, radio, even buses," Hemson says.
"This kind of weight loss messaging is there all year round but it's definitely pushed out more over the holiday and new year season. It's when I really have to remind myself I'm more than the weight on the scale."
Hemson is among the rising number of body positive influencers breaking through the noise and spreading a message of self-love regardless of size, but she still worries for young women who are easily influenced by all the New Year weight loss marketing.
"Happiness and health looks different for everybody but the way weight loss is advertised can be so damaging," she says.
"We are sold this idea that the slimmer your body is, the happier your life will be. I've spent years working on my own body image to get to a relatively good place."
Now she has almost 500,000 eyes on her every day on Instagram, but the years she spent worrying about losing weight to fit outdated beauty standards are long gone.
The Gold Coast-based model started her Instagram page, formerly known as @healthychick1010, as a private page to track her weight loss but a lot has changed in the six years since.
"It's crazy to think I have this massive group of friends, people just like me that I get to connect with. It's so special, I don't think I'll ever get used to it," she says of her 468,000 followers today.
What started as a weight loss account is now a page she uses to celebrate self-love and body positivity, inspiring almost half a million others to do the same.
Hemson says it's a privilege to help women and girls like her take back their body image, especially around the New Year, but admits it's OK to have bad days too.
"Surrounding yourself with people that speak positively about themselves and their bodies is contagious and I love that people look to me for that reassurance. But it's a journey and I am always open about that," she says.
"There are still days where I feel pressure to lose weight or days I don't feel confident enough to wear a particular piece of clothing and I will always make sure my followers know that it is totally normal and OK."
In 2023, Hemson's New Year's resolutions are going to focus on the things that "actually matter" (AKA, not the number on a scale) and she encourages other Aussies to follow suit.
"A life spent hating your body is not a life lived… I promise you your family and friends don't love you because of the number on the scale," she warns.
"Focus on building habits that make you feel your best; water intake, daily skin care routine, daily walk, FaceTime a friend. Nourish your body & be kind to yourself every day."
Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues should contact: Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a daily dose of 9Honey, subscribe to our newsletter here.
Property News: Sunny playground where the growth is only just beginning – domain.com.au
© 2023 Nine Entertainment Co.
Riley Hemson was 10 the first time she made a New Year's resolution to lose weight. This is why she'll never do it again – 9Honey
By Maddison Leach|