To raise money for Beat and awareness around eating disorders this Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, Miranda Charlotte launched a limited edition t-shirt. Get yours here, and read Miranda’s story below.
Connecting with painting by upcycling my much-doodled-on bedroom mirror frame was a turning point in my journey overcoming disordered eating.
For years (almost a decade) I’d harboured this secret, for a long time even from myself. I’d restricted my eating in various ways. Sometimes it was more pronounced, at others less so. Consistently though, the mirror and the critical way I related to my reflection was a friend to my eating disorder. At times of stress and anxiety, I would body-check in the mirror. It was a way to seek control over my body and encourage my unhealthy relationship with food.
As anyone who’s experienced or witnessed someone going through an eating disorder, this controlling dynamic may sound only too familiar.
I’d been drawing in pen across the wooden frame of my mirror - a bird, a leaf, a flower - possibly the starting point of what was to come, and likely a sign of too much time spent in front of it.
It was one day while reading an essay by writer Alice Walker that a lightbulb came on in my head. Walker writes about painting a doorway in her “spiritual colours”. She paints a moon, a sun, snakes, and birds, and says that by painting her doorway, she felt at peace in her home for the first time: “This is the door to my dwelling. It says: This is the person who lives in this house.”
Reading this, and looking up at my half sketched-on mirror, I knew I had to paint my frame to find a peaceful home in my own body.
Over that summer I spent hours in front of the mirror. But rather than using it to criticise my body, to check and self-hate, I sat with my reflection with indifference. I wasn’t looking at my reflection to self-destruct. I was focusing on the frame - using my hands, my creativity, my mind - to create art.
The result was a vibrant, embellished and uniquely upcycled mirror frame adorned as a tropical paradise with a bird in flight, a snake, flowers and foliage winding around the mirror glass. It wasn’t perfect. It was smudged, had some defects in the wood, and paint splatters on the glass, but that didn’t matter.
Even though my painting skills have much improved from that first attempt, I am still so proud of this mirror, which I see even as I write this, because it represents my strength in reframing my reflection and a promise to myself to prioritise my mental and physical health.
Upcycling this mirror was the starting point for what became my business - Miranda Charlotte. Now I share my story of overcoming disordered eating and negative body image by upcycling mirrors and making other art prints and homewares that all come with the positive message of self-acceptance.
Creating that first upcycled mirror, of course, was not the only support I had to work through my eating disorder. My progress was not, and still isn’t, linear.
Beat was a major support in my journey; Their helpline responders were a huge help in a time of crisis when I was terrified of relapsing, and through their database of support I found an amazing therapist that helped me work through a lot of the thought patterns and beliefs that underpinned my eating disorder.
I’m so thankful for this support, and I know I’d be in a worse-off place without Beat and their services. That’s why for Mental Health Awareness Week, 15-23 May 2023, I’ve designed a t-shirt to raise funds for Beat.
The t-shirt takes inspiration from that first mirror I painted for myself. It features hand painted hummingbirds, flowers, palm leaves and snakes reflected to each other in a symmetrical design that echoes the concept of my upcycled mirrors. It draws on Beat’s vibrant brand colours and comes with a positive message for Mental Health Awareness Week to “Be Kind To Your Mind”.
It is my hope that this t-shirt can raise some money for Beat’s essential work, and raise awareness of disordered eating as a mental health condition which affects so many people across the UK.
More than anything I hope my artwork and this t-shirt can amplify the important message that with the right support, you can overcome disordered eating, and however you’re affected by eating disorders that you are enough.
All the profits from sales of this t-shirt will go to Beat. Please buy yours here, and share on social media to get to word out.
Buy your Miranda Charlotte x Beat Mental Health Awareness T-shirt today