Lets talk about body image!
We can be so critical in how we see ourselves. Too fat, too skinny, bad skin, bad hair…every person has one aspect of their bodies that they do not like or wish they could change. Add in chronic illness, surgery or an ostomy; these insecurities amplify.
During my first few years of having an ileostomy I hated myself. I was just so desperate to feel and look normal again. I was desperate to dress like my friends and not have to worry about my bag leaking or showing through my clothing. I felt so pressured to ‘fit in’ or look a certain way.
I found it really hard not to compare myself to others, especially when I wasn’t as confident with myself as I should have been and having an ileostomy is a big part of why I felt like this.
I was 13 when I had my ileostomy, I am now 22 and my mindset has completely changed. I am more confident than ever about my body and my ostomy. I have learnt to accept and love my insecurities. It took time, but it happened.
( Illustrations by the very talented @emjayuc http://www.mjpix.com )
The reality is that no matter how body positive we consider ourselves to be, we sometimes can’t help but feel like something is wrong with us… Because that’s what we’ve been told from Day 1. Personally, I preach self love constantly. But does that mean I wake up every day feeling like Beyoncé? No.
These days, I don’t usually take it out on my body at least. I know that it isn’t my ostomy’s fault that I’m feeling down. I know that those feelings are a product of a culture that seems to think that scars/stretch marks or cellulite is the worst thing a person can have. But that acknowledgment can still result in misery.
if you’re struggling with body image and loving yourself and your insecurities then here’s some tips on how you can start to love yourself again.
Talk about it. Share your feelings and experience with people who have gone through similar things. There are so many amazing charities and individuals on social media that post about their experiences and stories. There is an amazing ostomy community filled with inspirational people. Reach out, share your story and connect with others.
Accept your insecurities. Looking at your scars for the first time can be emotional and every person is different. Don’t feel pressured and choose a time when you are ready. See it as proof that you have survived. Without it, you could not be whole.
Fake it till you make it. Even if you don’t feel confident about how you look try to have a positive outlook. When you’re getting ready for the day, tell yourself you look good, even if you don’t believe it. Replace a critical thought with a positive affirmation: “I look great today!”. Post pictures of your insecurity, show people what you’ve overcome and how much you’re rocking your scar/ostomy. By posting pictures you’re not only raising awareness but you’re also educating others on what you’ve been through.
Take your time. It won’t happen overnight but give yourself the time and space to accept your new body. Your scars will begin to fade and become less visible. And gradually regaining your regular schedule of work, leisure and exercise will help to make you feel more like yourself.
As a society, we are becoming more open to discussing our body image and challenging the perception of an ideal body. Reminding yourself that you are not the only person feeling this way can help you feel a little less alone.
As aways, Thanks for reading.