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The Perfect Body?

Today I am going to write about a taboo subject- body image, and how living with chronic illness/pain has affected it.

I get told how great my body is a lot, I am tall and fairly skinny. Not to be egotistic but I look pretty good in a bikini. I should love how I look. I should be confident of my body, after all I just bought a pair of size 2 jeans. Yet I still struggle with loving my body.

My New Jeans!
In middle school I thought my legs were fat, that was when I had muscles from horseback riding, today I miss my muscular legs. My thighs tend to be two different sizes, the left one is almost always smaller. The reason for this is simple, my left quad has atrophied from months of limping and being on crutches when I was 15/16, at one point it was so bad my doctor measured it and the difference was a good 2 cm in circumference. Today they are almost the same size, and probably look the same to anyone else, but to me they still look different.

If you haven't guessed it yet, I have a lot of scars. I have 8 scars from surgery, 1 from a go-kart burn, 1 from a shell, 1 from falling down a rocky hill, 1 from a marble table, and 2 from falling off a bike. In case you lost track that is 14 in total. Those scars are less attractive in a bikini, the ones on my hips and knees are especially ugly. I find it hard to feel good in a bathing suit with my hips exposed. I guess all the scars should remind me that what ever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

My final issue with my body is I feel like I am constantly at war with it. How am I supposed to love something that causes me so much pain and hardship? It is hard to remember to try to work with my body instead of against it. It is better to stop when I am in pain and fix (or at least try to fix) the problem, weather that means putting fancy cream or a brace on the joint or taking tylenol or getting ice/heat, and not try to push past it. I am not at the point yet where I work with my body as much as I should yet, I try to fight it a lot. My goal is to get to the point where I know how to work with my body to eliminate the problems I have with it and have a better self image.

Do you have self image issues related to a chronic condition? What are ways you improve your self image?

Comments

  1. I 100% understand where you are coming from. My body weight fluctuates constantly. Ill be 10 lbs heavier for a few months depending on meds and then loose it for a few months. Also I agree with you on difficulty with muscle loss--my right calf is smaller than my left. I was on crutches and had a cast on and off for 6 months. Thanks for posting about such a great topic!

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  2. I didn't even get into weight fluctuation yet! I think that probably can be a post in of itself, this is actually the 1st pair of jeans I bought in about 2 years because of that reason and also swelling makes jeans hard, I have given up on skinny jeans. Crutches definitely screw up leg muscles and it takes forever to regain them! I hope you are done with them.

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  3. The subject of self-image is a side of chronic illness people rarely discuss, but that doesn't mean it's not there! For me, it's my back. It's deformed from scoliosis and an unknown autoimmune disease, and honestly, I hate it. It makes me feel ugly and I feel like people stare at it.

    My way of handling it, well... I'm still working on that. But I try to tell myself that my scars and flaws are just visible signs of how strong I am and that I shouldn't be ashamed of them.

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  4. It should definitely be talked about more, people always talk about how with invisible illness we look better than we feel, which is true, but the fact that we don't always think our bodies look as good as the rest of the world thinks rarely comes up. My friends all say how great my this or that is but all I can think about is my legs. Chances are no one but you sees the deformities in your back, but it is really hard to realize that when it is something you notice so much.

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