Name: Jessica Smith
Pursuit: Positive & Healthy Body Image
My name is Jessica and I was born missing my left arm, then when I was just 18 months old – while struggling to get used to a new prosthetic limb, I knocked a pot of boiling water onto myself and suffered 3rd degree burns to my neck and chest. Growing up in a world that places so much emphasis & pressure on individuals to conform to certain ideals when it comes to body image and appearance, I struggled to accept my differences and, as a result, my self esteem and self confidence suffered. My desperate quest to be ‘normal’ resulted in a decade long battle with Eating Disorders & depression. Yet despite these set-backs I am also an accomplished Australian Paralympic Swimmer. I am now in recovery and I feel I have a responsibility to be a voice for others who are currently struggling with negative Body Image.
When did you start?
I began motivational speaking at a young age, but as I have gotten older I have also gained a lot of experience in different areas and therefore I now have many topics and themes that I speak about. My "Join The Revolution" campaign started at the end of 2011 and this is where my main focus is at the moment.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
Being selected to represent Australia at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. I was 19 at the time and it was the most amazing experience being part of such a talented team of Aussie athletes. I was fortunate to have my entire family travel over to see me race, being able to look up in the grandstand after my races to see their faces is something I will never forget.
What is your dream?
It is my dream that every school student in Australia is educated about the "Join The Revolution" campaign. I hope that by simply encouraging society to speak openly and honestly about the issues of Eating Disorders & Mental Illness we can begin to reduce the negative stigmas that are currently associated. It would be a dream come true for this campaign to be a national movement!
Who or what have inspired you?
My own personal recovery journey has made me aware of the severe lack of resources and services currently available. This has inspired me to do something about it! Get people talking and shed some light on these issues. I am inspired every day by women and men who contact me with stories about their own srtuggles, but their determination to fight and win their battles. It's these people that motivate me to keep going, because I know it's worth it.
Who's your hero?
Any other special talents?
Swimming & Public Speaking
Love Actually, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, Argo
Favourite TV Show?
Bananas, Coffee & most Italian dishes
How the grant will help you/how will you use the money?
The grant will enable me to generate more awareness to this seriousness of Eating Disorders and Negative Body Image. I will be developing a short video clip highlighting these issues and asking everyone to support by Joining This Revolution of positive change. I will be organising various awareness events across Australia with the aim of educating people of all ages and backgrounds about how they can be involved and help make a difference to the lives of those currently suffering. By the end of 2013 it is my dream that the entire nation knows about the Join The Revolution campaign, and together as a nation we can start to reduce the stigma associated with Eating Disorders & Mental Illness
Last words: Quote or Motto you live by?
A wise person once told me, "Manage your expectations" & I always encourage people to "Trust your gut instinct"