Openly gay rugby player Simon Dunn has written a candid and personal message about his social media persona and his struggles with body image and mental health.
On Instagram, the athlete and magazine cover model posted a photo of himself on the rugby field that he said held a special meaning for him.
He wrote: “The online persona I show you is all photoshoots, parties and magazine covers. This hasn’t always been entirely the truth,” he said.
“Earlier this year, I found myself back in Australia, living in a country town in my mother’s spare room and financially broke.
“Having to rebuild my life at the time felt like a monumental task. I honestly didn’t think I could do it.
“It honestly felt all the years of hard work had only led me back to where I began.
“For the first time in my life I’d felt anxiety, which was something new, scary and very overwhelming at times.”
At that time, Dunn admits he stopped taking care of himself, “drank most weekends away,” and felt he’d hit a low point in his life.
“Only weeks earlier I was living in London with my partner, running my own business,” he said.
“[I was] attending every party I was invited to, appearing in countless photoshoots and magazines.
“Before this I was in North America representing Australia in bobsleigh, training and competing, whilst getting flown to media gigs and appearances all around the world.”
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Simon Dunn says he ‘felt like he failed and let people down’
Dunn became the first openly gay man to join Australia’s bobsledding team. He retired from the sport in 2016.
That year, he relocated to London and took up playing rugby with the inclusive London team the Kings Cross Steelers.
“I was passionate about doing everything I could to show the world that out and proud athletes exist. I felt the world was my oyster and this was my chance to do exactly that.”
But, Dunn said, he “felt like I’d failed and let so many people down.”
“Life over the last several years has been a truly amazing adventure.
“This now felt all but a distant memory. Many tears were cried over many nights, and some days I didn’t want to even get out of bed.”
So Dunn decided to post the photo that represents “the real me – someone who, like everyone else, has obstacles they need to overcome.”
“This image is me at the height of that time, I questioned if I should post it because it doesn’t portray the person I show the world. There’s no abs, I was unhappy and lost.
“It portrays the real me, someone who, like everyone else, has obstacles they need to overcome.
“My little victory is being able to post it now, only a few months later, passionate for life again and looking forward to the next adventure.”
‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel no matter what’
Summing up, Dunn wrote: “The Simon you see online is the Simon I want you to see, may it be my pride or the influence of social media, but it’s not always as it seems.
“Life is a series of ups and downs, just remember – there’s always light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dark it may seem!”
After the post, Simon Dunn thanked his followers for their messages of support.
“Your messages of support in regards to my post last week have truly been amazing, I can’t thank you enough!” he said.
“Many of you related to the pressures of social media and also comparing ourselves to people whom seem to have perfect lives.
“I hope my candidness has shown you that this is often not the case but instead a story and image people put forward.”
My online persona is the image I want the world to see. Abs, photoshoots, parties, success etc. I questioned posting this picture as it didn’t fit within my “story”. Remember we all go through our own battles in life outside of what we show the world online. Myself included! pic.twitter.com/3R9utJsTxk
— Simon Dunn (@BySimonDunn) September 14, 2019
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