Silver Fern Maia Wilson chases self-acceptance

Silver Fern Maia Wilson is learning self-acceptance. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Silver Fern Maia Wilson has spent her career battling with her body image and has learnt this week she is not alone.

The top goal shooter took to social media to share her journey from being a teenage netball player told she needed to lose weight – to eight years later taking her pursuit of weight-loss too far.

Since opening up the 23-year-old has received messages of support from around the world from women who can relate to what she is facing.

Her body is healthy but her mind still struggled with accepting that she does not have what she called a typical netball aesthetic.

She was not using labels but said her condition it fell under the “umbrella of mental health”.

“For me it’s my body image and how I see myself and a lot of what I’ve learnt is about self-acceptance and trying to get that at a deeper level.”

Wilson said family and team mates were not surpised by her online revelations. Some had known for a while.

However, sharing her story publically was a decision which was – and still is – something that she had doubts about.

“I had all these thoughts in my head and rather than push them down like a balloon I wanted to try and give it a voice and get it out there and be able to sit with my anxiety, so I guess that’s why I did it.

“The consequence of that is I felt a lot better about myself and realised there were so many more people out there that were just like me.

“I’ve had people connect from nearly every inch of the globe to say I feel you, this is me, this is my daughter, so many different people that we’re all doing this together and I think it just shows that I’m lucky to have that platform that I put myself out there and I was vulnerable but it’s help to benefit other people.”

The Stars captain has been seeking support for the past two months for the battle she is still fighting.

“I put my hand up and [said] I’m not okay and I need to be able to reach out for that.

“That took a bit of guts and I’m really lucky that I had the support from not only the Stars but the Silver Ferns.

“It’s easy to be criticised for who you are and what I need to learn is that it shouldn’t matter what anyone else says as long as I feel 100 percent comfortable and acceptable in my own body that’s all that matters.”

Stars coach Kiri Wills was emotional when she discussed the challenges Wilson – an athlete she’s known since she was a teenager – would still encounter.

The pair’s long-term relationship meant the coach knew her shooter was in trouble last year.

“You can read some things and I was worried about her. So I did talk to her in a performance sense around who she is as a player and what her strengths are and so I tried to come at it from a performance angle and I think that’s the advice that we’ve been given around anything to do with fitness, nutrition it’s all about getting their bodies to do the job that it needs to do and it’s specific to whatever body shape there is out there on court,” Wills said.

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