From anorexia battle to Miss Universe Australia finalist
AT THE tender age of 10, Anneliese Zanchetta developed an eating disorder that would torment her life for many years.
The bubbly model spent much of her teenage years in a dark place battling anorexia but today, the 21-year-old is happy and healthy and among this year's NSW finalists in the Miss Universe Australia competition.
"I suffered at 10 and went to hospital at 12. I recovered when I was 15 but it's definitely a process that's long and hard but you get there eventually," Zanchetta told Confidential.
"It took me about five years to get over. I did the Maudsley treatment (Maudsley family therapy) at Westmead hospital. My mum and family were big supporters of me.
"I had body image issues mainly from my environment. The media had a big influence on me. That type of pressure on a kid isn't what a kid should face, kids should be able to be kids."
The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) student is joined by several other NSW finalists including Taylor Davey, 20, Maddison Coluccio, 24, Mikayla Schnabel, 23, and Emily Tokic, 22, who is representing ACT.
Zanchetta said winning the competition would give her the platform to help other young women.
"I wanted to study Public Relations because I'd like to one day open my own agency that focuses on helping, uplifting and empowering women," she said.
"The reason why I applied for the competition is because I want to create a platform to breakdown distorted body image, often caused by the media (due to body shaming and photoshop)."
She said the first step to overcoming an eating disorder is speaking openly, so she hopes her story will help remove any stigma.
"The most important thing is talking about it. People often don't want to talk because it's a taboo topic," Zanchetta said. "It's really important to tell girls that it's OK to be themselves and who they are. When I was little I felt like I had to be someone else when I just wanted to be me. I'm nervous about the competition but excited."
Other NSW finalists include Rebecca Portugall and Tash Galgut.