Tammin Sursok has shared a candid post about her struggles with “self-worth, body image and the fear to break free of old belief systems”.
Celebrating International Women’s Day, the former Home and Away actress revealed she had spent 35 years “hating my body” and had allowed it to be objectified by men.
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The Aussie star is trying to change how women view themselves, hoping to make a difference for her daughters Phoenix, nine, and Lennon, three.
The Instagram post comprised multiple stories, the first from when Sursok was 15 and hanging around with “newly pubescent boys”.
“I desired to be wanted, to be lusted over,” she said in the post on Thursday.
Meeting one particular boy, she said that after he said hello, she “stared blankly, paralysed in fear and lust”.
“’Hi,’ I said, ‘My name is Tammin’,” she recalled.
“’Hey Tammin, I’m Steve. And I want to tell you something’.
“My heart stopped. I had daydreamed for years that this moment would come.
“’You need to go to Jenny Craig’,” he told her in reference to the weight loss program.
Sursok’s second story, set two years later, centres on sitting on a bathroom floor while on a trip to Italy.
Although not made clear in the Instagram post, the story appears to be about the eating disorder bulimia, in which sufferers typically binge eat then purge through vomiting.
“I had spent the last 40 minutes ramming my chapped and raw knuckles down my throat. I knew this routine well. I had become an expert at lying,” she said.
“Swirling within the bowl were six fluorescent braces bands dancing like tropical fish. My fingers stung as they dove in to the oily water. It didn’t matter though, for secrets kept me warm at night.
“I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw my eyes; they looked like they were bleeding. I weakly smiled at my reflection. I was 100 pounds (45 kilos), I thought, now people would love me.”
Jumping to age 21, Sursok was seeing a 30-year-old man who “smelt like sweat and promise, and kissed me deep and long”.
“He would take me back to his house, which was bought with his parent’s money, and let me share a place for my toothbrush,” she recalled.
“I overlooked the fact that he chose to talk about me looking like an Olsen twin, with my large forehead and flailing arms, because I was taught in school that boys that like you, make fun of you.
“I waited up for him when he would leave for days to find himself. When he would eventually return, he would ask me to take my clothes off.”
Sursok said she “always obliged” because “again, I was taught it was the right thing to do”.
“He would then, while he proceeded to have his way with me, pause for long enough, just to say, ‘Your stretch marks are getting better’.”
Sursok also recalled her body image struggles after giving birth to her first child with producer husband Sean McEwen.
She questioned whether her body was “deformed”, noticing the “grooves on my stomach that looked like a map of Venice”.
“I cried salty, plump tears,” she wrote.
She concluded the post by saying that for more than 30 years she was told “that the only way to happiness, worth and love was for other people to view my body as good enough”.
“I had let my body be objectified by the hands of men; I had let my worth be valued by the headlines of the media; I had let other people’s opinions, bathed in hate, define the way I viewed myself.
“For too long. Not anymore.”
Sursok said for the “good part of 35 years” she “hated” her body – now realising that, although she can’t get the time back, her children can.
“To all my fellow women warriors that have ever struggled with self-worth, body image and the fear to break free of old belief systems, I see you,” she said.
“May we all love ourselves.”
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