By Alex Chapman
Silver Ferns shooter Maia Wilson has detailed the tough journey she's endured to reach the point she decided to open up about a very private battle she's waged throughout her netball career.
On Monday, the 23-year-old revealed on social media her struggle dealing with body image issues, which ultimately saw her seek help earlier this year.
By her own admission, the last week has been an emotional rollercoaster, since she decided to publicly discuss such a personal issue.
"My body image, how I see myself and a lot of what I’ve learned is about self acceptance and trying to get that at a deeper level," Wilson says.
Wilson has revealed she was told to lose weight from the age of just 15.
She detailed her ongoing struggles in a social media post using two images, comparing a photo taken during lockdown last year - during which she says she was the "lightest and fittest I had ever been" but "weighing myself 6 times daily" - with a current one.
She also admitted she'd regularly felt exhausted and had lost her period for four months, describing being told to put on weight as a "mind f**k".
"I was really in a place I wasn't loving myself at all," she says. "The scales were the measure for me to try and achieve whatever I wanted to."
Her first step towards seeking help came when she opened up to her teammates at a training session earlier this year.
But the revelation came as no surprise to long time coach at Northern Stars, Kiri Wills.
"We have been ahead of it I think, probably more than Maia realises we've been ahead of it," Wills reveals. "Getting her to the point where she could reach out."
The 21-test Silver Ferns sharpshooter has had to adhere to the tough physical standards set by coach Dame Noeline Taurua but rejects any suggestion those targets contributed to her issues.
"In the Ferns, what [Dame Noeline] drives is definitely a target," she says. "If you're able to hit your target you're able to do your job, but you do need to be physically fit.
"[Dame Noeline] is someone who’s an absolute preacher that we've got to get the person right before we perform."
Wills echoes those sentiments and while she's proud of her captain, she acknowledges she has a long way to go.
"We're not asking Maia to do something they’re not able to achieve," Wills notes. "Not asking them to do things they can’t handle. You can do that and be a healthy body weight with it.
Wilson says she still doesn't like the second 'after' photo in that Instagram post, but she’s glad she's gone public with her story.
"I felt a lot better and realised there were so many more people out there just like me."
Watch the full story above