Jessica's story

Paralympian, champion and motivator, Jessica Smith has spent much of her life striving for perfection but it very nearly killed her.

The reason behind the successful veneer? Jessica's was suffering a condition that until recently didn't even have a name- clinical perfectionism and it can be devastating. "It impacted every aspect of my life so academically university if I didn't get top grades it just wasn't good enough; in my eyes that was a failure. If I didn't win gold silver was never good enough it's that all or nothing black and white thinking that it has to be the best otherwise you failed."

Racing in the pool became a race for perfection, Jessica was born with part of her arm missing and as a toddler she received third degree. Those challenges both drove her to compete and at the same time drove her to the edge. Eventually the condition became an eating disorder."Clinical perfectionism can lead to a whole range of problems eating disorders being one of them but anxiety and depression as well." Dr Sarah Egan from Curtin University's School of Psychology, "one of the typical things is overworking a lot so maybe the person is typical workaholic I guess they can't let things go working every day they're staying late at work or it might be a student at school who perhaps has been really hard on herself for the way she looks always having to get straight A's that kind of thing." and that was very much Jessica's experience now her race for perfection has become a race to share her story and help others.


Curtin University are looking for females aged 14-19 years old to take part in their free research study, Be-YOU-tiful. The program is designed to help individuals beat perfectionism or stress, improve their state of mind and wellbeing.

For more information head to