Meet the York student who’s just started a BBC podcast to discuss her eating disorder
‘The Weigh Up’ features guests such as Dr Alex George
A University of York student, Molly Smith, who previously appeared on Stacey Dooley’s Fresh Starts podcast, has started her own BBC podcast after winning the BBC Rachael Bland podcast award 2022.
The podcast, titled “The Weigh Up: Eating Disorder Diaries” is a nine-part BBC 5 Live series which aims to open up the conversation and change the narratives around eating disorders. It features celebrity guests such as Dr Alex George.
Molly, a second year Education student at The University of York, told The York Tab: “I still can’t believe something like this has happened to me and I’m forever grateful to have been given this voice to speak about something so close to my heart.”
Molly is also the latest recipient of the BBC Rachael Bland New Podcast Award. The award was set up in memory of Rachael Bland who presented the award-winning BBC Podcast “You Me and the Big C” and passed away from cancer in 2018. On winning the award, Molly told The York Tab: “I feel so honoured to have been given this award and the opportunity to create a podcast which will hopefully open the conversation about a topic people are afraid to talk about, much like Rachael did with her pod.”
The 19-year-old student was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 14 years old. Speaking of her own experiences, Molly said: “At the time, anorexia was my best friend. It was the only thing I could rely on in life and it gave me so much happiness at the beginning. It did make me happy, I was losing weight. I felt like I looked prettier. People would say nicer things to me. It was my best friend, and it became toxic. When people challenged it, that’s when it became harder to deal with.”
“It ruled every moment of my life but with a lot of help and support I was able to break free. I’m the proof that recovery is possible.”
The first two episodes of the podcast, which will be released next Wednesday, focus on her journey and how it impacted those around her. In the second episode, she speaks with her family to discuss how eating disorders not only impact the individual but also their family and friends.
The podcast aims to challenge the common stereotypes of eating disorders. Molly speaks to podcast guest Sunni who shares his experiences of bulimia and growing up in an Indian family “where there is a lot of pressure to be perfect and eating disorders are sometimes seen as a weakness.” She also speaks to Eden who has ARFID (Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder) and is half Black-Carribean. They discuss the labels people have given her for being a “fussy eater”, not being the typical look of someone with an eating disorder, and people not understanding what ARFID is.
“The Weigh Up” also features celebrity guests including Dr Alex George who speaks about the impact of social media on eating behaviour. Other guests include Anna Saccone Joly and Jodie Porteous who “bravely discuss their experience with eating disorders and how they began to find acceptance.”
The eating disorder charity BEAT has acted as the series advisor on the podcast to ensure nothing discussed on the podcast is triggering for anyone listening. Molly said: “I really wanted to make this podcast accessible to all, no matter where someone is in their eating disorder journey.”
BBC Radio 5 Live commissioner Dylan Haskins said: “The Weigh Up is an eye-opening series that breaks down common misconceptions around eating disorders. We hope this podcast will educate and support people just like Rachael’s work did.”
In discussing what the podcast means to her, Molly told The York Tab: “I can’t put into words about how lucky I feel to have been given this incredible opportunity. It has been the best few months creating and recording the podcast and I have met the most incredibly talented people, who without the podcast wouldn’t exist.
She continued: “I still can’t quite believe something like this has happened to me and I’m forever grateful to have been given this voice to speak about something so close to my heart. I hope to continue in this industry further and continue to use my voice to shout about important issues.”
The first two episodes of The Weigh Up will be released next Wednesday and can be listened to on BBC Sounds.
Support services for those affected by eating disorders can be found here.