We’ve just discovered a role model whose face needs to be plastered on school walls.
Meet Zoe McNulty, on a one-woman mission to help people learn to love their bodies.
The feisty body confidence activist, with a background in fitness, believes people can feel good about themselves through the medium of dance whatever shape or size they are.
Oh, and she’s also hugely supporting a campaign to axe the Daily Mail Online comments section which trolls notoriously flock to, to spew vitriolic opinions about celebrity bodies or lifestyles.
Zoe, who dreamed of being a dancer on Top Of The Pops but was repeatedly told she needed to lose weight so avoided the commercial dance scene, now runs The School of Strut – an organisation offering dance classes for women to embrace their bodies.
Speaking about her venture, she explained: “I believe all women have the right to feel fabulous in their skin.
“I just think many of us have forgotten we’re allowed to be sexy and just need the opportunity, in a safe and encouraging environment, to let our hair down.”
Her classes push boundaries and use a killer dose of sass to boost confidence, with her sessions described as ‘burlesque on steroids’.
Zoe also dedicates her social media to helping people realise they can be happy and confident in their skin, just as they are, without worrying about what others think of them.
In one recent post, she revealed just how heavily the world around her and society’s obsession with diet culture impacted her mental health.
Sharing a photo of herself aged seven, the fitness extraordinaire wrote: “Meet Mini Zoe! She loves dancing. She also loves gymnastics. Oh, and she’s a water baby too, swims like a fish. Basically, anything that requires a small covering of Lycra, she does it.
“During her time with the other kids, in their Lycra, she notices that her body is different from the other kids (hardly but her attention to detail is keen).
“Fast forward a few years (not many, let’s say when she’s 12), this realisation, coupled with observing a mum who has also been a victim, who runs a slimming club, counts calories and doesn’t allow ‘naughty’ food in the house, Mini Zoe concludes that her ‘big belly’ means she is fat. Her body is wrong. It needs to change. It can change.”
Zoe then revealed how she would plot weight loss graphs and berate herself whenever she didn’t lose enough, admitting she became completely obsessed with image and size.
Sadly, Zoe reflects back on her childhood as “wasted youth”, and says her body shame remained with her throughout her 20s and into her 30s.
She concluded: “I know that whilst Mini Zoe had a path to follow and that path lead to Maxi Zoe ‘doing the work’, helping others accept their body, I do sometimes wonder where I’d be if I had never counted a calorie.
“So, please, before you contemplate starting another diet, consider avoiding diets completely from now on. Remember what normal eating is.
“Reconnect with hunger and fullness signals. Exercise with movement that makes you feel good, move because you love your body. Just say no to diets and yes to freedom.”
Zoe’s inspiring turnaround to love her body has amassed a little army on the way, with nearly 25,000 signatures on her Mail Online comments campaign.
To join the movement and flip the bird to diet culture, click here: Zoe McNulty.