Penn State Football Kicker’s Inspiring and Brave Body Image Story

Joey Julius, kicker of Penn State University’s football team, is a superb athlete. But what you may not know about him is that he has struggled with body image issues and binge eating disorder almost his whole life. If you’re unfamiliar, binge eating disorder is one of the most prevalent eating disorders among adults, characterized as recurring episodes of eating large quantities of food. This past weekend, I learned more about his inspiring story. Check out the video from ESPN here:

The public isn’t always made aware of athlete’s struggles with body image, but Joey was strong enough to bring his issue into the public eye. Him doing so is moving – and will help others to realize that it’s okay to feel the way you feel, and it’s okay to admit you have an issue. But it’s also okay to change your life for the better, even if it’s scary as hell.

Like Joey mentions, guys and athletes have an expectation to just “be a man” or “rub some dirt on it.” As a guy, admitting he had an eating disorder was likely not easy – but his honesty and willingness to make a change got him the help he needed. Additionally, public speaking in itself is terrifying – and Joey doing so on such a personal level is incredibly brave of him.

It’s so important to acknowledge that body image issues don’t solely apply to women – but men can be affected too (and like Joey, guys or athletes shouldn’t be afraid to get help or admit they’re struggling). Same goes for us all – we owe it to ourselves to improve how we see, talk about and treat our bodies. And if that means asking for help, so be it.

Men and women everywhere have an immense pressure on ourselves to look a certain way. But guys, six packs and zero percent body fat aren’t the reality. The way you look is perfect, and if you don’t see that, I hope this post (and my blog) can help you.

Whether you’re struggling with an eating disorder, the way you see yourself in the mirror, or whatever the case may be – there’s one answer to help all of those things. And that is change. Joey’s change was seeking a treatment center, but yours may be therapy, amping up your exercise routine, making a point to be healthier, or just simply changing your thought process to accept yourself.

Whatever your story, or even if you’re a bystander of a friend going through issues – we all have a part in the body image movement. Here are a few things you can do today to help:

  • Be nice to your body. Exercise as much as you can, eat healthy, and always remember to tell yourself positive things about you and your body.
  • Accept others bodies and praise them, don’t be jealous or mean. Everyone’s on their own journey. So reconsider the next time you make a fat joke, get jealous of a celebrity’s body, and try making a point to praise others and tell them they look great. Remember, you look great too, and everyone deserves to be praised.
  • If it’s feeling like you can’t do it alone or these issues are affecting your overall well-being, seek help. Whether that’s therapy to talk through your thoughts, a treatment center, or confiding in a friend – do what you need to do to feel better. Positive self talk and the strategies above are great, but they may not be enough. And that’s okay.

Thanks to my amazing Dad for sending me this story. I love you! And thanks to Joey Julius for being so open and inspiring. I don’t know you personally, but you are truly an inspiration.

Photo credit: Nick Knouse

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