before I start my speech I just wanted
to say in the very beginning I did initially upload my very first open mic
but I made a lot of mistakes in that and because it was my very first one so I wanted
to give you guys that speech as my audience instead of talking to someone
else at my audience.. so yeah let me just start my speech 馃榾 …I should be dead right
now but I’m not and you want to know why? My name is Hojung Michelle Lee and I’m
here to tell you my personal story about my battle against eating disorders and
mental health issues I suffer for for the past six years.
I hope my story raises awareness to these topics that they’re still highly
stigmatized in society. With that being said, I’m 23 years old from Toronto
Ontario. I immigrated from South Korea to Canada at the age of five. South Korea, my
home country, is known to have one of the most unrealistic beauty standards in the world.
Light and bright skin, a v-line face, and a slim body. Even to get a job, one
must submit a headshot with their resume. From my personal experience, some of my
family members in Korea are considered to be “big” by Korean standards, so,
whenever my family and I go visit them we would always have to bring clothes
with us that fit them because Korea simply do not have their sizes there. Being exposed to this information at such a young age, at the age of 14, I decided
to go on a body transformation journey which led to 9 years of self-abuse, six
years of 2 eating disorders and six years of 2 mental health issues. having
always been overweight as a kid but to bully-constantly, throughout grades 1-8 and it wasn’t until grade 9 that I said “I’ve had enough.” I didn’t
want people judging me especially for my physical appearance so
I went on a diet. I turned to books, I turned to magazines, I turned to anyone one can get sources about weight loss for. According
to these sources, the most effective to lose weight was by intermittent
fasting during a certain timeframe. Thinking to myself this was doable, I
started the diet. I cut my eating timeframe from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
however I did not change what I was eating on a regular basis nor did I
restrict myself. Daily gym class can be active and by the end of the school year
feeling phenomenal and pumped with energy I was able to lose 20 pounds.Throughout grades
10 to 12 I kept my diet the same but since I stopped taking gym class, my
weight stayed the same. As grade 12 arrived, prom was in order and I decided to
prompose to a guy I barely knew because I thought he was cute.
I had a group of peers all supporting me in the hopes of him saying yes.
Unfortunately, it did not pan out as we all thought- he said no. Shock, I said to myself
“Michelle let’s make a physical change with your body so by the time prom arrives, you can be as pretty as you can be. Even though I do not incorporate any sort of
exercise, I took my diet very seriously this time. I cut my eating contract from
7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and completely switched out all the junk I was eating
with healthy alternatives. I also downloaded MyFitnessPal to
track all my calories; even the smallest ones like gum. I became obsessed and even
though I’d be starving around 8 p.m. I’d be too frightened to drink water. The
solution? go straight to bed. Despite my lack of exercise, I was able
to lose 40 pounds within 4 months but at what cost? loss of energy, chronic fatigue
and the scariest part was I was only 16 years old. In total, I lost 60 pounds.
Moreover, because of the overwhelming struggle to lose all that weight,
I developed an exhaustive fear of regression. Just the thought of gaining 0.5 pounds
was an anathema. Beauty at this point meant a lower number on the scale; the
less I’m weighed, the more beautiful I felt. i quantify my self-worth.
As University arrived, I moved into residence… and this is when it all
spiralled downwards. I changed my eating timeframe back to 7:30
a.m. to 6:00 p.m. because it was what made me feel good.
However, there was one night when I came home around 8:00 p.m. feeling extremely
hungry. I didn’t want to cheat and eat on my diet but despite my willpower and
determination I lost. I had a bag of barbecue chips. Now consuming the calories
from the chips made me feel extremely guilty and panicking I decided to find
an isolated bathroom on campus and throw up. I didn’t know what else to do.
During second year of university I moved up to a condo. Now, not being under any
supervision, I decided to binge and purge every single night when I got home.
Sometimes I would start the binge with the distinct coloured food, so by the end
of the purge, if I saw that colour I knew I was done. I would then I would then weigh
myself and if dissatisfied, I would drink water to help the purge and throw up
again. 30 minutes in the bathroom, multiple times a day, became a part of my
identity, my routine, and my outlook for the future. And it went on…during the day,
when I didn’t have access to a bathroom I could use only for myself, I just
didn’t eat. This pattern turned into anorexia whereby I would stave myself during the
day, and binge and purge at night because of the stress of not eating all day. Through
this, I lost an additional 25 pounds. Now, at a weight of 90 pounds, I look at
myself in the mirror but see a reflection of an ugly,
unwanted, and fat human being and I was literally physically mentally
deteriorating due to malnutrition. Such deterioration manifested itself in hair loss,
complete disappearance of mensural cycle for three years, and swollen
salivary glands. And so the journey continued. I experienced seizures on my
bed where I would uncontrollably shake for ten minutes and
fall to the ground and continue to shake for another ten minutes.
I also fainted occasionally and also had an anxiety attack at the bank. At the bank, I remember getting up, opening my eyes but not being able to see. Believing now
that I had just gone blind led to further panic. In the meantime,
the ambulance had been called and upon arrival, the attendants asked if I wanted
to go to the hospital. But because I had a huge assignment due the next day
and because my blood pressure was determined to be normal, I opted up to go
to the library instead. At the same time, deep down inside, I knew I problem but
because I was in denial thinking my eating habits were normal, and because I
thought people would find me disgusting and gross,
I just didn’t seek any help…and so the journey continued. I developed brain fog,
I began to suffer more from anxiety and depression. From the years of 2015 to
2018 I had a hard time leaving my bed as I was constantly thinking about
suicide. (I forgot to add this part but: Finally, on my 23rd birthday, in November of 2018, I decided to take my own life.) On the verge of jumping off my balcony on a 33rd floor high up
building, I just happened to notice my dog. I said to myself “Michelle if you die
no one’s gonna take care of your dog and you know what it feel like to feel alone
and you can’t let anyone else in the world feel like that.” Eventually my dog
saved my life. Nine years of self-abuse, six years of 2 eating disorder and 2
mental health issues, I realized I wanted to live- but not like this. So, I made
decision to drag myself to the gym to see if that would make a difference. This
resulted in a drastic change in my life. On the first day, I ran on the elliptical
for a minute and a half because my endurance non-existence,
and then at home. But, it didn’t let this discourage me and I kept going and going
and I began to feel physically and mentally better. And now, I’m able to run
on the elliptical for an hour and a half non stop, run up 900 flights of
stairs in under nine minutes, and I just ran my first 5k in the Toronto marathon
of this year. Nine years of self-abuse, led to passion- passion to advocate for
those who are suffering from eating disorders and mental health. Modelling is
my platform to do this and I had just been signed by a modelling agency in
Toronto. My dream as a model is for companies and corporations to come to me
not only for my physical appearance but to help me advocate for eating disorders
and mental health. My dream also include to run to Ottawa before I’m 30
years old to raise awareness and seek donations for a scholarship fund I’d
like to create for students who are suffering from these issues but are able
to excel in academics. Eventually, I plan on one in law school to continue my
advocacy in a different forum -changing up how the education system more
effectively helps these students with these challenges learn. Thank you! And I’d
like to that I did make some mistakes in my speech but I decided to not edit this
video because I just really wanted to show you guys how passionate I was and
a lot of my stuff that I post on Instagram and Facebook they’re all very,
the ones I post not and not the one that the photographer’s give me they’re all very
raw. I don’t use any filters because I don’t really know how.. LOL and yeah I just
like natural beauty. And I wanted to show you guys my dog actually that saved my life.
Oh hold on… so this is my dog he was sleeping but I woke him up LOL. Thank you for listening to my speech and I hope you have a great day!

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