Steph Claire Smith, Laura Henshaw open up about body image journey

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It’s been almost a decade since Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw launched Kic – a health and wellness business focused on fuelling and moving your body rather than what appears on the scales.

The movement is something both women are incredibly passionate about after working in the modelling industry. Henshaw has spoken about how exercise and what her next meal was going to be was her “Roman Empire”.

Meanwhile, Smith has said she once screamed at her mother for using olive oil while cooking.

Everyone has off days but both women remember the exact moment they questioned whether they way they were treating their bodies was worth the pain and stress.

Smith remembers towards the end of her time modelling in New York, she was at an exercise class with four Victoria’s Secret Angels.

“I was definitely my worst kind of spot when it came to how I looked at myself and food and exercise,” Smith told news.com.au.

“And before the class got started, [the Victoria’s Secret Angels] were just kind of chatting to each other looking at themselves in the mirror, and I’m standing there as a new model in the market like aspiring to be like them.

“And they were picking apart their bodies and saying what they don’t like about themselves.”

She compared it to the scene in Mean Girls when the “plastics” stood around a mirror saying what they didn’t like about themselves.

In that moment, Smith remembers thinking that society had put these women on a pedestal of perfection and even they were not happy with how they looked. She remembered a time where constant comparisons hadn’t taken over her life and she yearned for that time once again.

Henshaw’s revelation came while she was working in Italy, and for such a long time she had been focused on getting down to her goal weight.

“My weight was the most important thing about me. I’d weigh myself twice a day and it would literally dictate the day that I had and how worthy I felt,” Henshaw said.

“My entire self worth was tied to the way that I look and my weight really matter and how small I could get my body.”

Henshaw, 31, revealed she got to her goal weight and expected to feel joy but it simply never came.

Later, she was at a casting and filling out a form that asked questions about her measurements and she remembers anger bubbling inside of her.

“I was like, ‘Why do you care?’. I remember thinking this didn’t serve me anymore. I don’t want my worth to be measured that way,” she said, adding things that were actually important were how she made her friends feel and what she was studying at university.

She called her agent and asked them never to send her out again.

In 2015, Smith and Henshaw started Kic. But, at the beginning, it was known at Keep It Cleaner.

They wanted the health and wellness app to be a place of safety, for people to come to without judgment and curiosity about how to fuel and move their body.

That is why the Kic app doesn’t have a place for users to input their weight or track their calories. It’s simply filled with workouts and recipe suggestions. It was supposed to be a place to build confidence and steer people away from the idea that the size of their body had anything to do with their self worth.

That is why Henshaw and Smith use their platform to speak about the toxicity of diet and fitness culture.

“I think the rebrand allowed us to be bolder. But we’ve always had the exact same mission,” Smith said.

“The reason why we launched in the first place was because we both felt like we could be vulnerable online to our communities that existed back then. And it was through that connection with them we learned that we weren’t alone in the kind of body image struggles that we were having.

“Our relationship with food and exercise, unfortunately, was an incredibly common one.”

However, Henshaw and Smith aren’t naive to the fact they’re in “socially acceptable” bodies. And, at first, they came up against a lot of questions of “how can you talk to this”.

Henshaw points out their experience shows that you have no idea what somebody is going through by simply looking at them.

“We have a platform and we completely acknowledge people followed us on social media, because of the way that we looked,” Henshaw said.

“But we have a choice, we can use this platform to like contribute to diet culture, or because we have this voice we can use this platform to help people not go down that same path we did.”

The women, who have built an empire with the app that now involves an activewear range and ready-made meals, said not every day is perfect when it comes to body image.

Speaking out about their experiences and battling against toxic fitness and diet culture isn’t always an easy thing but the women said they’ve been on the journey for a long time and learned a lot.

“We’re in a place where we back ourselves,” Henshaw said. She added they may not get everything perfect every time and the trolls will always be there but helping others outweighs any fears that come with being vulnerable.

Read related topics:Melbourne

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