“Confidence doesn’t come from attaining the perfect body, it comes from embracing the one you’ve got”
Mental Health Awareness Week this year took place between 13th - 19th May and each year the Mental Health foundation focuses on a different theme. This year’s theme was body image – how we think and feel about our bodies.
For my first blog post I will be reflecting on Mental Health Awareness Week and sharing my experience on how my disability affected the way I felt about my body and how it changed over time.
Ever since I was a young girl I have always had problems with my legs, knees and ankles. From the age of 10 I started using crutches because of a bad knee dislocation and since then, I have been using crutches for 8 years where I have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis, Joint Hyper-mobility and Chronic Pain Syndrome.
Over the years and as I've gotten older, I started to notice the change of appearance in my left leg. I developed stretch marks on my knee as it would always swell up for long periods of time and my left thigh was noticeably smaller than my right thigh, due to muscle wasting and my lack of mobility.
After having an arthroscopic procedure when I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with Valgus Deformity which is a condition where the bone segment distal to a joint is angled outward and away from the body's mid line - this completely changed the appearance of my knee/leg once again and made me start to dislike my legs even more.
I never felt confident showing my legs so I would shy away from wearing shorts, skirts and dresses. Wearing these types of clothes which exposed any part of my leg would always give me really bad anxiety as I used to be embarrassed of people seeing my scars/stretchmarks or noticing the muscle wasting in my left leg.
I’m now a fashion student and have always been a big lover of fashion and styling. Despite not having the confidence to show my legs, I found experimenting with different types of clothes allowed me to be able to wear things that I wouldn’t have worn when I was younger.
A big part of embracing my body was accepting. Accepting that I will always have scars and stretch marks. Accepting the fact that my legs will always look different from each other where accepting myself has allowed me to live my life without worrying about my body too much.
My legs are now one of my favourite parts of my body. The scars and stretchmarks from surgeries are beautiful to me because they tell my story.
Since signing to Zebedee Management and becoming a model, I’ve become more confident within myself, but most importantly proud. Proud of my disability and differences.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”
In April I had the opportunity to travel down to Brighton and take part in a photo shoot with Spoonie Stuff Magazine. ‘Spoonie Stuff’ is an online women’s magazine dedicated to chronic illness. The shoot was in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week for this year’s theme ‘body image’. The shoot was with 7 women including myself to showcase body confidence in spite of our illnesses and disabilities. It was great to see all of us come together to celebrate body confidence and raise awareness.
“We want to show everyone that you can be happy and confident in your own skin and have a positive body image in spite of illness and disability”
The whole day was very empowering for me. It was lovely to meet and interact with other women that also have chronic illnesses, there was always a sense of compassion and understanding even without talking in depth about our disabilities and everyday problems. Everyone looked beautiful, strong and radiated confidence in some way.
Along with Spoonie Stuff, I’m encouraging you to share a photo of yourself on social media, say what you like about your body and why you feel happy in your own skin – Use the hashtag #MySpoonieBody
Check out spooniestuff.com to see what the other women had to say about how they feel in their bodies in spite of their illnesses and disabilities, for useful tips, inspiring stories and a dose of positivity.
Remember embracing your body starts with acceptance. Confidence is knowing and accepting who you are.
“She remembered who she was and the game changed”
Confidence isn’t an overnight transformation so be kind to yourself always.