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"The Body Doesn't Need to Fit the Clothing, the Clothing Needs to Fit the Body": Butterfly Foundation's Danni on Social Media, Society + Eating Disorders

In the latest episode of Unprocessed, hosts Grace and Clara sit down with Danni Rowlands to delve into the intricate relationship between social media, societal expectations, body image and mental health. With Danni's courageous sharing of her personal journey with an eating disorder, the conversation offers invaluable insights into finding the road to recovery.

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Danni Rowlands is a powerhouse advocate for body positivity and eating disorder prevention, making significant strides in her nearly two-decade-long career in the not-for-profit sector. With a background in fitness, a personal journey through an eating disorder, and a deep commitment to supporting others, Danni brings a wealth of experience and empathy to her role as Head of Prevention at the Butterfly Foundation.  

“I've been at Butterfly Foundation for 17 years, I guess my biggest driver and motivator for getting involved was that I had a lived experience of an eating disorder.” 

As the mum-of-two revealed to Grace and Clara on the Unprocessed podcast, it was Danni’s own eating disorder that prompted her interest in helping others.

“I was diagnosed at 21,” she says. “I'd been involved in really high-level sport, my sport was netball and unfortunately, things that happened during my adolescent years and maybe formative years and resulted in an eating disorder which took me off the court at that time.”

Here are three important messages Danni wants us to take away:

Embracing Body Diversity: Danni's journey exemplifies the importance of accepting and celebrating body diversity. Her work at the Butterfly Foundation focuses on supporting individuals to develop positive relationships with their bodies, regardless of societal standards.

“Sadly, so many people are doing really hard and dangerous things in order to conform to a body size or to conform to a clothing size,” Danni says. “And the reality is, the body doesn't need to fit the clothing, the clothing needs to fit the body.”

Combatting Social Media Pressures: The conversation shines a light on the impact of social media on body image and self-esteem. Danni and the hosts discuss strategies to navigate the influx of appearance-based content on social platforms, emphasising the need to curate feeds that align with personal values and promote self-acceptance. Danni says often Instagram influencers are dealing with their own struggles, and what you see in that final photo doesn’t capture the whole story.

“We don't know really what that person is doing or isn't doing, we don't know how much digital editing has been happening. There’s just so many questions that we need to ask when we're looking at social media.”

Creating Safe Spaces for Body Positivity: By sharing her experiences in the health and fitness industry, Danni highlights the significance of fostering environments where bodies can thrive without judgment or pressure. She advocates for spaces that prioritise holistic well-being over appearance-focused metrics – sometimes that means taking a bit of time away from the bombardment of social media ads and photos. 

Encouragement to Listen + Learn: Listening to other people's experiences and stories can help in the process for finding support and community - but Danni says it also starts with childhood education. Too often, teachers and parents skirt the subject, but the Butterfly Foundation board member says we need to tackle it head on.

“The thing with body image is that as soon as somebody is born, they are going to be influenced by lots of different things when it comes to their body image. So the education and resources in schools are absolutely a critical part of it.”

As we continue to navigate the complexities of body image in the digital age, conversations like these serve as invaluable tools for fostering understanding, compassion, and self-empowerment. Join Grace, Clara, and Danni on Unprocessed as they unpack the nuances of body positivity and offer easy strategies for a healthier relationship with yourself in a world inundated with social media pressures – and your kids can benefit from these powerful messages too! 

Check out the episode HERE.

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