WH Action Hero: Jessica Smith, 29, WA

Move over, Katniss… this Aussie woman kicks mucho arse

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Why she’s our hero

Born without her left forearm, then suffering third-degree burns to 14 per cent of her body as a toddler, life has dealt Jessica some sucker punches.

“I grew up looking different and was confused. I thought I was being punished for something and I asked my parents every day, ‘What have I done to deserve this?’”

Growing up in a society that champions physical perfection compounded her self-esteem issues, and Jessica suffered serious anorexia and depression as a teen. It got so bad it ended her 10-year stellar swimming career (Jessica was selected to represent Australia at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens).

“I starved myself, convinced that if everything else about me was ‘perfect’ then people would look past my obvious imperfections.”

Eventually hospitalised in her early 20s, this remarkable woman has since worked hard to win her biggest battle – to accept herself. She’s now a motivational speaker, mentor and vocal champion for positive body image.

Today

On social media, Jessica is making waves with her “Join The Revolution” campaign, which encourages people to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to talk positively about our bodies.

“Nobody is perfect. Body image is the number-one concern for the youth of Australia and it’s such a complex issue. The starting point is to get people talking about it.”

She shares her life story with the goal of helping others to reach happiness. In less than 12 months, her campaign has seen success in Australia and internationally, with support from thousands, including Layne Beachley, Chris Bath and Kelly Cartwright.

“It’s my dream to see thousands more join the revolution.” Check out Jessica Smith‘s site.

The one-minute guide : HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF SICK

From psychologist and body image expert Dr Vivienne Lewis…

1. Make your skin feel nice Wear clothes like silk that feel good against your body. Shave your legs. Use an expensive body moisturiser.

2. Think about the positive function Instead of thinking “I hate my flabby arms”, think “My arms allow me to cuddle my family”.

3. Accept compliments Write them down in your phone notes and try to focus on them – and believe them. Because seriously, you do look great in red.

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