It’s hard for me to think of a time when I have felt happy with my body.
I trained at a ballet school for many years, skin-tight leggings and leotards were my daily clothing staple. Days on end surrounded by mirrors, looking at my body under a microscope certainly left its mark on the way I view my weight.
The questions over my shape and size really took a turn when I moved to London. I would stand in audition rooms with hoards of other boys and watch as they booked the jobs and I didn’t.
Large muscles, flat stomachs and golden tans seemed to be the desired look and I simply didn’t have any of these attributes.
Things took a turn when I was asked to remove my shirt during an audition for a major musical. I would go on to book this job, however looking back I wish it had never happened.
During rehearsals we were given gym memberships and advised on what to eat. My intended shirtless costume was soon changed to a t-shirt, and body contouring was to be applied for the moments this wasn’t possible.
I wasn’t good enough, even if I could sing or dance to the level they wanted, I wasn’t aesthetically right.
I took some time out after this job, as I was starting to feel the negative effects that came with the audition process. In this time I gained a little weight. My mental health began to deteriorate, I had removed something from my life that had made me so happy and now I was left with a body that felt alien to me.
Image: Paul Nicholas Dyke
I returned to performing a year later, my body had changed. I was encouraged by the director to get back in shape. A valid request I felt, given the nature of my job, I thought. I had so much shame surrounding my looks that I decided to take drastic action to achieve my goals.
I would wake up every morning and run for five miles in -23 degrees. I would spend hours researching online the best ways to lose body fat. I would look longingly at the boys in the pages of my favourite magazines. I would train long hours in the gym and eventually, when I wasn’t achieving my goals fast enough, began to binge and purge my food.
This behavior is so alarming to me when I look back, but the problem is, everyone said I looked amazing. Everyone was so impressed. I posted my '#bodytransformation' on Instagram and was inundated with likes.
I was getting praise for damaging myself.
Image: Paul Nicholas Dyke
As time has gone on I have managed to find a little balance. It’s been a long few years but I am starting to accept my body for what it is. From a career that was all about being anything but normal, I have had to find solace in the fact that maybe I am just ‘average’ in this department.
I don’t attend auditions anymore and I try not to seek validation from others over my body.
I am now only auditioning for myself, and the casting brief is to simply to be happy.
Attitude is a media sponsor of National Student Pride, which takes place in Londno 22-24 February 2019.