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Jessica
Smith

Paralympian, author and Pride of Australia Medal Winner

Profile

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith is truly an inspirational woman. Born without a left arm, she went on as a teenager to represent Australia for swimming at the Paralympic Games. She's overcome an eating disorder as a young adult and is now an author of a children's book, and internationally recognised advocate and speaker for positive body image.

Current work

Jessica is also an Ambassador for Layne Beachley’s foundation ‘Aim For The Stars’ as well as being an Ambassador for the Australia Day Council.

With all these accolades aside, Jessica's proudest life moment is recently becoming a mother. This new path to motherhood has inspired her to create a series of children’s books, which celebrate diversity and difference.

Previous experience

Paralympic Games: Jessica represented Australia from age 13 to 21, managing to achieve great success both in the water and out, completing a Science degree while training for the 2004 Paralympic Games. After a successful international swimming career, Jessica was forced into early retirement at age 21 after a life long battle with eating disorders. Although hitting rock bottom was devastating, it allowed Jessica to redefine her passion and she has since used her experiences to become a prominent body image activist.

Social Media: Jessica created the award winning social media campaign (“Join The Revolution”) promoting positive body image. The global success of the campaign catapulted Jessica into the realm of activism; educating people about the complexity of body image as something that is not merely an issue of vanity, but rather one that encompasses race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability and diversity at all levels. Her in depth analysis of these issues has seen her take the stage at major UN events where she is seen as an expert in the industry.

Speaking: Jessica has stood on many other platforms throughout schools, universities, businesses, and communities as a sought after motivational & public speaker and MC. Jessica is often asked to share her story and comment on social and women’s issues, having made appearances on the Today Show, The Project, Triple J’s Hack, The Sunday Telegraph, ABC Radio, ABC3 Kids, The Sunday Times, Grazia Magazine, Australian Natural Health magazine, New Idea, Women’s Health & The Guardian. Jessica has also been interviewed by Cameron Diaz for her blog and is a frequent contributor for numerous other well know international blogs, as well as being a health and wellness writer at the Huffington Post.

Awards: Jessica has been notably recognised for her incredible work within the community, recently awarded 'Emerging Leader' by the Australian Government at the Positive Body Image Awards, a 'Pride of Australia Medal' in Western Australia, and In 2015, she was a state finalist for 'Young Australian of the Year'.

Media
Expertise
Talking Points

The Power of Body Image

Jessica has been speaking about Positive Body Image for years, her audiences span from young children right through to the corporate walls of businesses dominated by men. Her message is to teach us all that body image isn’t about vanity, beauty or perfection - it’s about how we think and feel about their own appearance, and therefore that encompasses - race, gender, religion, sexuality, disability and culture. As cliché as it might sound in today’s current climate, learning to harness your self esteem will enable you to master any and every goal that you set, whether that be personally or professionally.

Leadership without the ego

Being a good leader isn’t about how loud and proud you are - so leave your ego at the door and learn how to authentically communicate with the people around you before you dare try to lead them!

Hitting Rock Bottom, and how Powerful it can be

Jessica hit her rock bottom when she was forced into early retirement from her swimming career after struggling with eating disorders and depression for more than a decade. To the outside world it appeared that Jessica had everything going for her, she was a Paralympian, studying her Masters at University, a home owner - all by the age of 20. In less than two years, she was broke, living back with her parents, divorced - but more motivated that she had ever been. Hitting rock bottom allowed Jessica to reassess what her goals were and where she needed to be in life. So many of us get overwhelmed with the hard stuff, we can’t possibly see how we will pick ourselves up. But once when you learn from others, and see that regaining your own self worth is possible, your power to reinvent your life is endless.

You can have it all - just not all at once

A balanced lifestyle doesn’t exist - at least not on any linear scale that society says it does. When we accept that we can have it all, but just not all at once, we allow ourselves to see clearer and achieve realistic goals

Maintaining a winning mindset

Even the most successful athletes have bad days. So how do you maintain a winning mindset even on the days you don’t win? And why is that so important?
Topics

Motivational

  • Inspiring Stories
  • Disability

Sport

  • Olympics & Paralympics
  • Swimming
Feedback
Jessica is an inspirational young woman, changing peoples lives through her own experiences of adversity and hardship. My Aim For The Stars Foundation is proud to support Jessica's vision of a Revolution of change, creating a world of understanding, tolerance, compassion and hope. Layne Beachley - 7 x World Surfing Champion
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