“Like seashells we are beautiful and unique, each with a story to tell”
I had the absolute pleasure of being a part of In’A’Seashells new campaign #LIKESEASHELLS.
Being a part of this empowering campaign along with three other inspirational women meant and still means so much to me because I have struggled with self-love and confidence since the age of 10 when I first started using crutches to walk.
I’ve always had problems with my legs and over the years I have slowly been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in my left knee (due to my knee dislocating), Chronic Pain Syndrome and Joint Hyper-mobility. Some days I don’t feel like myself because my conditions leave me feeling constantly in pain and swollen, tired or uncomfortable. There have been times (and there still are) where I hated my legs because they couldn’t do the things I wanted them to do. My limitations became very frustrating and I felt helpless because my legs prevented me from doing the things I once loved.
The appearance of my left leg has changed drastically over the years. I went from having normal looking knees and legs when I was 9 years old to not being able to bend my left leg for nearly a year, constantly having a swollen knee and hyper-extended leg and then I started developing stretch marks all over my knee because it would swell up so much where this all eventually led up to having a condition called Valgus Deformity up until July 2018.
Over the years I’ve also had to deal with muscle wasting in my left leg due to it not being able to bend for so long, the constant invasive investigations and operations that I’ve had over the past 9 years.
Growing up I constantly got stares from strangers which made me want to hide away and not want to be seen, I then started to develop anxiety and became extremely insecure about not only my body, but myself in general.
I used to hate wearing skirts, shorts or dresses because my left leg was constantly changing and I never thought it looked ‘normal’ which made me feel so embarrassed and ashamed. When in fact, my leg was and is normal.
Over time I’ve learnt that no one should ever be able to define how you feel about your own body. My scars and stretch marks are now beautiful to me because they tell my story and I believe everyBODY is beautiful.
“Don’t Limit yourself because of what people might think”
It’s cliché to say, but finding self-love and confidence goes far deeper than appearance. In this generation a lot of people are more concerned about being beautiful on the outside, rather than on the inside but who you are as person matters the most!
How I came to love my legs, my body, my skin, my crutches and MYSELF was by embracing and accepting everything about me but in order to have done this I had to go on a journey which not only included my disability but my life in general. This journey is in progress and is still teaching me how to overcome some of my fears, how to build confidence in different situations I face every day and facing first time situations.
I truly hope this campaign inspires you to love yourself… Embrace it and accept it because you only have one life to live. Don’t spend your time worrying just start living.
“Love your body because you only have one”
Aside from feeling insecure about the appearance of my leg, I’ve struggled with discolouration on my stomach and back. I used to be afraid of people thinking my skin looked dirty and I felt so insecure about the colour of my face not matching the colour of my body. My mum would always remind me that my skin is beautiful and unique. Since then, I’ve kind of just embraced my skin like I did with my leg and now I refuse to spend time worrying about things I can’t change.
Of course, I still have days where I feel less confident or may get annoyed by someone staring at my crutches, making a horrible or silly comment, but as long as I know who I am and how far I’ve come it really doesn’t matter! We’re all human at the end of the day.
As I have come to accept myself I’ve found that I’ve cared less about what others think of me. When people now stare at me and my crutches I don’t feel insecure, I actually feel amused because they’re intrigued by me and I’m not worried about them at all. I feel like this is a good attitude to have when finding self-love too – when people stare or make comments take it as a compliment because they’re clearly interested in you!
The thought of modelling in swimwear was daunting because I knew I couldn’t hide anything. Two of my previous insecurities (my left leg and discolouration on my skin) would be on show for everyone to see, but being able to shoot alongside Sophie, Talulah and Diana made me feel empowered and confident.
One thing being a part of this campaign has taught me is to embrace my differences, uniqueness and to own who I am and I honestly can’t thank Leigh-Anne and Gabrielle enough for installing that in me and allowing me to share my story and journey to self love.
"What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it's not. A lot of the time, it's what makes you great"
I would like to say a massive thank you to Leigh-Anne and Gabrielle for allowing me to be apart of such an empowering campaign and for inspiring so many people to love themselves including myself - I can't thank you both enough!
If you're ever struggling with your confidence just remember to embrace your differences because they're what make you, YOU! Confidence isn't an overnight transformation and it'll take time. Never be afraid to speak with someone about what you're going through too.
"Stop rejecting yourself. Embrace yourself, love yourself, accept yourself"