WSU Student poignantly discusses the trauma of body dysmorphia and the thoughts, feelings and experiences it involves. ...

TW: Body-shaming, mental illness, body dysmorphia

I have a fear of mirrors. 

Let me rephrase that – 

I have a fear of my 

reflection on the mirror. 

I hate the face that 

looks back when I look 

into the mirror.


It does not look like me – it feels grotesque, absurd. The human eye is so acutely trained to fixate on impurities and imperfections. It has an 

insatiable thirst for providing an infinite supply of ammunition for all your insecurities. The blemishes, the uneven tones, the acne – it disgusts me.


Don’t get me started on the full body mirrors. The fit of clothes on me makes me nauseous. I am either overweight, disproportionately sized, too short or too untoned. All I never am is me. It befuddles me why my brain would betray me and make me believe I look like something I am not and show me something I don’t want to be. 


Its crude humour is lost on me. Why make me guzzle down food from stress eating if you cannot stand to see yourself overweight? Why grow out and gift me beautiful curls only to rip them away from me before I even hit adulthood? To be betrayed by one’s body is an indescribably painful infidelity. Actually, scratch that last line. The pain is benign compared to the betrayal from those you love most. The third sentence that escaped my mother’s mouth as I met her after a “year and a half” consisted of criticisms about my weight, my skin and the texture of my hair. An uncle made the very astute observation that I had developed a deeper tan. But the vernacular to express that is to quip that my complexion had got dirtier, which was somehow a euphemism to avoid more serious colourist remarks. It’s not his fault.


It’s the society that moulded him. The one that segments newborns into “beautiful” or “dark-skinned” because it believes that their mutual exclusivity is a matter of fact. The one which led a child to scrub his skin till he bled in order to wash away the “dirt”, which made his skin murky. The one which beat me down into not looking at a mirror for the last 2 years.  


I felt guilty that the only bit of rebellion I put up against this society was so minuscule and private. I rebelled each time I had that extra plate of food because it brought joy to my foodie soul. I rebelled each time I went to the gym because I like the runner’s high and not because my mother said I look unpresentable in my current form. I rebelled each time I ignored any fairness products and wore bright colours, which they said would not suit my complexion. I rebelled when I looked into the mirror for the first time in 2 years. Someday, I will rebel by accepting the face and the body that looks back at me.


But first, brunch: some of Western Sydney’s best cafes

Join a culinary adventure through some of Western Sydney's quaint coffee shops and uber-trendy brunch spots....

Attention coffee addicts, eggs benedict-obsessed enthusiasts and all-around brunch lovers!

As we are power on through these uncertain times with ever-changing restrictions, it’s completely understandable to be feeling a little disheartened or maybe even lonely.

But luckily, the cafés of Sydney are here to cheer us up. It’s no secret that we’re spoilt for choice with quaint coffee shops and uber-trendy brunch spots galore – especially right here in Western Sydney. You’ll feel great knowing you’re helping out local businesses as you chow down on a plate of delicious pancakes.

Circa Espresso
21 Wentworth St Parramatta

Although Circa Espresso is conveniently close to Parramatta station, there’s no doubt many would travel far and beyond for their quality coffee and famously known Ottoman eggs – poached free-range eggs with crumbed eggplant, labneh and fried leeks on focaccia. Their quirky laneway-style set up provides an out-of-the-box experience for Sydneysiders who are always on the lookout for new and interesting dining experiences. Not to mention – they offer a range of delicious seasonal coffee and tea blends. But be aware: Circa is technology-free so ditch your laptop and simply enjoy the coffee.

Atlas Café
53 Ettalong Rd Greystanes

Atlas Café is a family-owned café that is sure to fulfil all your brunch needs and desires. With an innovative menu that transports you around the world (hence the name Atlas), there’s something for everyone. Choose the “Afghan” for a plate of baked eggs and roast vegetables, the “Canadian” for buttermilk pancakes with crispy maple bacon or the “Brazilian” for a fresh acai bowl topped with fruit, granola and shredded coconut. The outdoor garden setting provides a uniquely refreshing ambience, as well as a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Old Boy Café
24 Tallawong Ave Blacktown

With its unexpected and isolated location, Old Boy Café is definitely one of Blacktown’s hidden gems. Upon entering, you’ll find that the café has a unique vibe compared to other Western Sydney cafes with chill beats, vintage-style décor and an array of indoor plants. The café’s quirky ambience is accompanied by their great coffee and a generous all-day breakfast menu. If you live around the Blacktown region – this café is a must-try.

Paper Plane Factory Café
64 Mandoon Road Girraween

Paper Plane Factory is a pleasant surprise to find in Sydney’s West, and another hidden gem tucked away within Girraween’s industrial area. Not only will you enjoy the contemporary and stylish interior of the café, but their affordable prices and delicious food will provide you with a satisfactory brunching experience. You’ll find your brunch classics, alongside other tasty items like brioche buns with pulled pork, jalapeno burgers – and their delicious peanut butter thick shakes.

XS Espresso
Plumpton, Wetherill Park, North Parramatta and Kellyville locations

If you’re a Western Sydney local, it’s likely you’ve popped into XS Espresso before. While they’re famous for their extravagant milkshakes and decadent desserts, they also serve great coffee along with tons of brunch options to boot. They have an impressive latté selection where they incorporate new and exciting flavours, including Nutella, Taro and Matcha. Don’t miss out on their new creation: a Biscoff-inspired latté, named the “Lotus Latté”.

Henri Marc
Shop 2, 438 High St Penrith

Henric Marc is undoubtedly a local favourite for its Instagrammable plates and rustic, hipster interior. They’re known for their specialty coffee and an impressively long beverage menu with organic hot chocolate and tea options, interesting milkshake flavours and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Their French toast and chai lattés are popular amongst regulars – and very likely to be just your “cup of tea”. 

Coffee Trad3rs
1/8 Victoria Ave, Castle Hill

As the name suggests, this café has a passion and knack for serving great coffee. Coffee Traders takes latte art to a whole new level with their funky 3D designs. To add to this, their lunch menu includes an interesting fusion of Asian and Australian dishes. The owner, James, is well-known in the area for his friendly demeanour and attentive service that tops off a wholesome and equally fulfilling brunch experience.