Barbie-inspired blogger overcomes anorexia after eating disorder nearly kil

posted by John Elliott - 

By Harriet Rose-Gale | SWNS |

Lola Pahkinamaki, who once weighed less than 80 pounds, drew inspiration from Barbie during her recovery and now wants to help others maintain positive body image.  (SWNS)

A woman whose eating disorder saw her weight plummet to just 75 lbs. has made a healthy recovery to become a real life Barbie.

Lola Pahkinamaki, 26, battled anorexia from the age of 16 when she began starving herself to try and lose a few pounds.

But she quickly became dangerously thin, shedding more than half her body weight - with children's age 9 clothing hanging off her skeletal frame.

Pahkinamaki became so fragile she would fracture her bones just by walking.

She only started to recover after doctors told her she would die if she did not get better and after she received hospital treatment.

The model and blogger from Finland, has battled back to health - and has taken inspiration from the fashion doll Barbie.

She now models herself on the character and is embracing her new-found curves.

"I have been overweight and I have been dangerously underweight, but what I am today – after long road to hit final recovery - is body positive," she said. "I have battled anorexia twice because the first time I started my recovery I thought it was only weight gain I had to do for healing."

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"But I know it's a mental battle too - when your brain looks good and healthy, you feel good and healthy. And when you feel good and healthy, you look good and healthy," she said. "People call me Barbie now because of the way I look. She has always been my favorite character."

”I call myself 'Brain Barbie' because I very well understand the real beauty comes from inside of your head," she said. "I love her attitude, she is always nice to everyone, even haters. She is my biggest idol."

"I mostly love to see curvy pictures of Barbie today. To me curvy is beautiful," Pahkinamaki said. 

She first developed an eating disorder when she was in her teens.

She first developed an eating disorder in her teens after she attempted to lose a few pounds.  (SWNS)

"It was triggered by lots of different things - a difficult childhood, unhealthy relationships in my family, lots of heavy issues on my mind, bullying at school, not enough money for food and very bad self-confidence," Pajkinamaki said. "I'd started losing weight when I was 16 because I was overweight and wanted to slim down, but it started to go too far."

"I'm 161 cm tall and was 40 lbs. overweight in my teens - at 12st 20lbs (approx. 180 lbs.) - because I found comfort in food," she said. "I handled my feelings by eating and I loved sweets, it was the reason I gained so much weight."

"In one year I dropped weight by eating healthily. I started to do exercise and I loved the way it made me feel," she said. 

Pajkinamaki was able to maintain a healthy weight for more than a year before she gradually began to lose more and more.

"I was very stressed - I was studying hard and it was expensive. At the same time I worked hard after school and all the time I was very tired," she said. "I started to heal my high stress levels by doing sports, running, drinking water a lot, taking long walks with my dog and so on. Day by day it got worse but it was the thing that also helped me to feel better - until I didn’t sleep well anymore and I didn’t want to eat anymore."

"It was then I met with a doctor and right away she sent me to hospital," she said. "I was not extremely underweight at that point, but my body was very sick – mostly because of a shock after huge weight loss, then more weight loss, then lots of stress. The body is not a machine."

"So my first recovery happened in hospital. My weight was 7st 5 bs. (103 lbs.) when I signed in. When I left to go home I was 8st 5 lbs. (115 lbs.) again," Pajkinamaki said.  "I did some gain after recovery again. In a hospital I only gained weight, but I didn't find the reasons for my eating disorder so I started to try and find some help for my feelings from food." 

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"I started to gain weight a bit quickly. The gaining weight was too horrible for me, I stated to hate myself. I was 9st 9 lbs. (approx. 135 lbs.) now and I started to drop weight again."

After two years, she found herself in a dark place.

"I found myself very low, at my lowest ever. I was ashamed of myself," Pajkinamaki said. "I chose large clothes to hide my body, I kept a smile on my face, but when I got home I cried alone."

"I felt so bad, I felt so guilty I had this kind of problem when kids in Africa had no food," she said.

At the height of her illness, simply going for a walk threatened to fracture her weak bones.  (SWNS)

"My lowest weight was 5st 5lbs (approx. 75 lbs.), I had no appetite and when I tried to eat the food came out so I needed to eat very slowly to boost my digestion," she said. 

"I used to wear children's clothes as not even the smallest adults clothes fit, they were too large," she said. "It was hard to find children's clothes too, especially trousers because when they fit for hip they were all so short, longer trousers were too wide."

"It was a blessing I found leggings, and college pants with ribbon to make them smaller. I would wear a children's age 9-10," Pajkinamaki said. 

"Trousers were size 146/152cm (age 11). I had only one pair of jeans, I found them from H&M. Finding jeans was the hardest. All underwear was from Disney," she said. 

"I was cold all the time and my body grew a lanugo hair on it. I wore a fur coat and wool socks in the summer and many trousers to feel warmer everyday," she said. "It was odd for all people. I hated when people said I looked so thin so I started to wear big hoodies and pants to cover my shape when I went out."

"The problem was I didn’t want to eat either. I met a doctor because I got fractures easily, just by walking as I was so frail," Pajkinamaki said. 

"This was the moment he said I need some hospital or I will die. It was a shock to me and I feel it was a first point that really made me think about I have to recovery the way I will never fall in sick with this disease again," she said. "So I started to fight back. The recovery is now something I will do rest of my life which I had to understand and accept before I started to heal."

"Eating disorder is a mental illness, this was the second thing I had to understand and allow, and this was the hardest part for me as well," Pajkinamaki said. "Usually we think having some mental illness mean you are mad or insane and it is very sad. I feel it is more mad to not heal your mind than heal it and talk about it.

"And healing mind is actually very simple daily things we can do: relax, thinking, finding positivity and eating healthy, being social, building healthy self esteem and taking care of ourselves and other people around us," she said. "My recovery started by eating slowly, small meals many, many times in a day. I have shared my recovery tips on a blog."

"To me it was very important to keep focus on slow gain, I didn’t want to get overweight again so I gained my weight by eating normal food – not sweets," she said. "I challenged myself to have desserts sometimes - no matter how much I hated it while in recovery, it was so scary to me."

"And after that I didn’t let myself run or do any other exercise to burn it off. I took it in very small steps, until I was around 7st 8 lbs. (approx. 106 lbs.) It took a long time, more than two years," she said. 

After a year of maintaining a healthy body weight, Pajkinamaki discovered fitness and began to work as a coach to help others to gain weight, recover from eating disorders and also to lose weight in a healthy way.

"I can say I have seen everything with weight problems and I feel I am the best reference of my work myself," she said. "Body positivity was the biggest thing to me by very deep self searching I found peace – self searching as I call brain work actually."

"And this is what I actually do today - brain coaching meaning boosting people’s minds to think about themselves in more positive way and finding the body peace by that," she said.  "Body positive means body peace to me, and this is what has given me the balance I have always wanted but never reached before.

"As I said eating disorder is mental illness but it is not something you should be ashamed of," she added. "You should be proud of yourself when you can deny your problems, and my that you should be proud of you find some help for your problems.

"It is more cool and more brave to take care of yourself than to hide your problems and act everything is OK," she said. "I know what I am talking about. I want to help people with their problems because I know it is possible to rise from almost dead and find the peace."

She said during her recovery she drew inspiration from her idol, Barbie, and now wants to help others see their bodies in a positive light.  (SWNS)

"I love modeling because I love camera and this is what I want to do, I feel very comfortable in my body today no matter I am heavier and I want to share this by pictures," she said. "I have always loved Barbie. I used to watch Barbie Life In The DreamHouse. Barbie has such a wonderful character: she is always nice for everyone and always helps everyone, even her haters!"

"She is beautiful but not superficial. She is very smart, she has many professions. She is very talented and loves to create something new all the time. She loves animals and cute things. We are so same!" she said. "When I was a kid I admired Barbie a lot, I had Barbie doll and it was my treasure. Everybody knew I loved Barbie but I was totally different looking myself, kids started to bully me and call me as 'Barbie' for hurting me."

"It was horrible especially when I got older and overweight, I also had bad skin and no money for clothes like other kids wore," she said. "I got most of my clothes as a donation from other families, sometime my lovely grandmother bought me some but she was very practical and never bought anything that look cute or nice."

"Barbie has always been there for me. Her character is still something that motivates me: treat other people the way you would like to be treated yourself."

Lola now weighs 8st 8 lbs. (approx. 120 lbs.) and is a size small.

"Today I don’t weigh myself, I don’t count calories and I don’t follow any other diets but hunger," she said. "I don’t do fitness as much as I did before – I do home workout around twice a week.

"At times I go to gym for lifting heavy weights, it relieves my stress well," she said. "Cardio I don’t do at all, only walks outside with my dogs. It is what my body and mind prefer." 


John Elliott

John Elliott

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