5 years ago, I started Chooselifewarrior. It was a quote-based eating disorder recovery Instagram account. I didn’t start knowing what body positivity was, I didn’t start with 100,000 or 10,000 or even 1000 followers. I simply started trying to give others like me a voice. Fast forward 5 years and my account is more than I ever could have imagined, I am more than I ever imagined, my life is more than I ever imagined.
About 2 years into my account being online I would get tagged in “pro-life” content it all came to a head this year when I realised than 3 out of 4 times some people thought ‘Chooselifewarrior’ was a Pro-Life Movement. It shattered me. See when I started all those years ago Choose Life was a mantra my best friend had said to me while I was extremely sick with my eating disorder. If I didn’t want to eat she would say choose life Dani, If I didn’t want to be alive she would say choose life Dani. It became the words that got me through and then saw me blossom online and off.
So why did I change my name if it meant so much to me then? The most glaring reason is that yes, the name ‘Chooselifewarrior’ (now that I look at it through a new person discovering my account without context) I could see how Chooselifewarrior seems as if it is a pro-life statement. I have never been in favour of pro-life movements or anti-abortion movements. I have always been pro-choice. This is an important thing to me; my identity and it is also very important for me to support all of you in aligning myself with things that don’t aim to hurt you or take away your right of choice. I do not want to be mixed up/confused or associated with pro-life movements in anyway.
Even so, as I took on the impending change of ‘Chooselifewarrior’ I went through plenty of emotions. The name itself has become to mean more than my eating disorder recovery, more than the years spent online making supportive environments for others and it became larger than my own personal meaning. It began to take on meaning for others. It began to form support groups, it began to be recognisable in our small community. It became a safe space from diet culture, a strong space of fat activism, a word that took on meaningful eating disorder recovery meanings for many more than just I.
I was scared to change, scared to move past a name that meant more to me than a few characters on a screen. It was an online home. I know some of you may have gotten tothe point where you’re rolling your eyes and saying ‘It is just a social media name’ but honestly to me it was something that bridged an absolutely devastating time in my life and brought me to the flourish (yet still imperfect) life I have now. I still say to Cameron ‘oh must go do some choose life work now’… however
By now you all know my ‘new name’ and I guess it is not so much new at all. ‘iamdaniadriana’ is… I Am Dani Adriana. It is my first name Dani and my second name Adriana. Once I decided on it, it truly became such a full circle moment. I have Adriana tattooed on the inner of my right-hand wrist. Adriana is my middle name and my mum’s middle name. It was also my oma’s middle name and my great-grandmother’s middle name. It is a name emblazed by the strong matriarchs in my family. It is a name that makes me feel belonging to something bigger than myself but also is who I am.
Without getting too emotional – it truly is me finally letting go of all the shields, my eating disorder, my walls & “names”. It is me coming into my own, claiming my space, leading my way into the future without bells and whistles. I Am Dani Adriana.
So I hope you will stay, I hope you know who I am will not change – if anything with my personal name attached you will grow to know me more (I hope). I want to close this chapter of ‘Chooselifewarrior’ with one major take-away. Regardless of any names we have, even the ones given to us at birth. Nothing and no one can take away who you truly are.
*All of the new amazing branding images featured in this post are by Stephanie Mederios they are a non-binary creative director & brand strategist at @oroagency. Follow Stephanie on Instagram @stephaniemadeit