Elle: My story
Elle has struggled with mental health and body image since she was young. However, she now aims to prove that, without her BPD, she wouldn’t be who she is today – including a Miss Great Britain finalist.
My name is Elle, I am 32 years old and I am based in Surrey UK.
Growing up, I didn’t have a role model in the media telling me I was good enough as I was. All I saw in magazines and TV were these beautiful, airbrushed people, and mental health was even more taboo than it is now.
Throughout school, I was bullied and ostracised from my peers for being different. That, along with the abuse I endured, had a huge impact on my mental health. Without the resources or intervention I needed, I took everything with me into adulthood. I found I was repeating things to myself that those people made me believe were true – comments on my appearance and how my behaviour was based on getting as much validation from others to fill the void. I turned to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and block out my reality in order to feel like someone else even for a moment.
Finding my tribe
When I moved to Surrey in 2008 I was a still a lost soul looking for her pieces to fit a mould and wondering if I would ever be ok and accepted. Throughout school and into early adulthood, I had an eating disorder I believe this was due to wanting to access control through all the chaos.
At college, I found my tribe who helped me feel included and part of something. I am still friends with these people today and I am very grateful for them in my life.
Music has always been important to me and meeting like-minded people helped me feel safe and accepted. Battling my demons with the help of my friends and feeling less alone, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and accessed help for my issues. I’m proud to say I’m also 8 years sober and work full-time for a local mental health charity called Catalyst, giving back to the community that once helped me has been a huge honour.
Using my platform for good
While in the 2020 lockdown, I was really able to give myself the time and attention I deserved to begin my road towards recovery. I had the time to reflect and focus on myself fully and start the correct therapy which I am attending currently. I believe representation and inclusion is key in order to see real change within society and I want to be part of a generation who makes that change. I also want to be that person I needed when I was younger, for someone else who may be suffering today.
BPD can be a lonely existence due to the stigma that surrounds it, which simply isn’t fair. We are all unique people with a purpose and we all have so much to give. By being so public in the media about my diagnosis and struggles, I aim to prove that; without my BPD I don’t believe I would be so creative, loving and sympathetic towards others.
In 2021 I decided to enter Miss Great Britain with no make-up as a stance for bodily choice and a reminder of the dangers of social media. I was the first woman in the history of the competition to ever compete make-up free and I won the publicity award as recognition for the work I had done in promoting my movement.
Although it is a controversial system, Miss Great Britain gave me a platform to be heard on a global scale to make a change within the beauty industry. On the back of my success I continue to speak my truth unapologetically in schools and colleges in order to keep the positive much needed conversations going.
I may still have a long way to go, and I have a lot to learn about who I am, but I am still here and I am proud of that.
You can read more from Elle and follow her on social media at linktr.ee/elle_seline
Thumbnail photo by Liam Anderson