Texan Born Super Star Giselle Grayson on: the LGBTQ+ Community and Body Dysmorphia.

Photo Credit: Wes Ellis

Photo Credit: Wes Ellis

Here at WeAreASSIF we are committed in telling the stories and experiences of those who have suffered with ill mental health from all over the world. We spoke to Giselle Grayson, a singer songwriter from Austin, TX. When Giselle isn’t playing gigs and writing new music she works as the Lead Designer for Marketing at Rooster Teeth. Giselle is a member of the LGBT+ community as well as the body positive movement. As many of you will know, this month is LGBT+ pride month so we thought it would be a good idea to get Giselle’s experiences on being a bisexual member of the LGBT+ community. Here’s what she had to say:

Identifying as a bi-sexual was an interesting journey. I've always been equally attracted to men and women, and fall in love equally with both. I never really questioned that about myself or hid that about myself. But working in entertainment, ironically, I was asked to stay closeted and not disclose that or appear to be anything other than straight. That I think, is what took the heaviest toll on my mental health. I went through some bouts of depression and anxiety until I actually did come out as bisexual and all the fear of the push back instantly went away and my self-love just took over. If a venue doesn't want to book me because I'm Bi - then I don't want to play that venue. Problem solved. I'm much happier and stronger in my foundation as a person overall for standing in the light of who I am. Transparency is one of my greatest allies now.

Do you believe mental health issues are worsened/ provoked by society's negative and detrimental ideologies of the LGBT+ community?

Absolutely. We should not have children killing themselves out of fear of being who they are. It's our responsibility as adults in this conversation to protect and shepherd the youth through what can be a horrifically difficult and scary time. In that respect, it's so hard to shift the cultural dynamic of people who are committed to HATE. And because of that, I think the best we can do is stay visible, stay loud, stay proud, and keep growing our tools and resources for getting through the hate and the things in society that will take a long time to change. Consistent, active, proud voices will make a difference in the long run.

You're an active member of the body positive community and you regularly open up about your experiences with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. How old was you when you first realised you suffered with this?

I can't pinpoint how old I was exactly, but young enough to not even know what body dysmorphia was at the time. I remember being in a meeting with a record label when I was 9 years old and having record executives discuss my appearance and what I should be dressed in. That was probably the most significant moment at such a young age and the first time that I had ever been aware that my appearance mattered to people. A few years later I began modelling professionally and during a lunch break during runway training, the trainer handed us all a bottle of water and set a pack of cigarettes on the table and said "lunch break." I was 13 at the time, and that was the first time I ever experienced the way that starvation is promoted in the modelling world. In junior high and high school I would say is where the body dysmorphia really set in for me. I began comparing my body to those of my peers and different just meant fat. I was by no means fat or overweight at that time, at all.

Has it ever brought on an eating disorder of any kind?

Yes. I struggled with anorexia for about 4 years over high school and college. And the ramifications of that eating disorder left me with an almost endless cycle of physical and mental health problems. It took me nearly 10 years to fix my metabolism and develop a healthy relationship with food and with my body. It's still daily work, but it's an act of self-love for me now rather than self-hate. My nutritionist put me on Keto a year ago and it's been life-changing in the ways that it's corrected my metabolism and hormones.

How has body dysmorphia affected your life?

I struggle with body dysmorphia almost daily. My weight has changed drastically throughout my life and my body has been through a war with my mind essentially. I'm learning to see what's really in front of me rather than a size in a pair of jeans or a number on a scale. I stay aware of what my personal triggers are with dysmorphia and eating disorders and I do my best to navigate myself around them to preserve my healthy mental state. Just like recovering from an eating disorder, fighting body dysmorphia is daily work. I'm grateful to have a wonderful tribe around me to keep me uplifted and check me when I'm spiralling out into a dysmorphic haze. I've got a wonderful therapist and I try to stay active with things I love, for me that's dancing and performing so that I can be more in my body and less in my mind about my body.

As a society, what do you think we can do to better the conversation

around mental health and body dysmorphia in particular?

Absolutely! We have a long way to go in the ways that we address mental health and body dysmorphia in society. But I have seen a great shift in the way those things are addressed and talked about even in the last 5 years, and that makes me thrilled for the future, and future generations. And it makes me proud that in some small way my ability to connect with people and share my story has hopefully impacted someone in a healthy and positive way. My prayer for society and for individuals, in general, is to embrace and learn to love acceptance. Acceptance is key. Accept others as they are, accept their beauty even if it's not akin to your own, accept your own beauty, your power, and the power of embracing the

differences that make us so wonderfully unique and special.

Below is also a list of useful charities that work primarily with the LGBT+ Communities.

LGBT Foundation: 03453303030

https://lgbt.foundation/

The Proud Trust: 0161 660 3347

https://www.theproudtrust.org/

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or know somebody that is, please call Beat on 0808 801 0677. Support and information is available 365 days a year.

If you’ve been struggling with your mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, or you know somebody who is, these are the numbers to call to get some help.

Samaritans: 116 123

CALM: 0800 58 58 58

Papyrus (for those under 35): 0800 068 41 41

Childline (for children and young people under 19): 0800 1111

The Silver Line (for the elderly): 0800 4 70 80 90

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