Overcoming negative body image – when you have a disability

Overcoming negative body image is never easy, even harder when you have a disability.

Have you ever compared yourself to somebody else? Yep me too. So many of us are guilty of obsessing over our bodies or what other people think and the way we look. With social media platforms like Instagram, Tik-Tok and YouTube you can’t help but look at others and what new trendy, look, weight loss program or treatment to make you look good is out.

As a teenager growing up in the 90’s it wasn’t much different to now, the only difference is we didn’t have social media, yes that is correct NO SOCIAL MEDIA I’m sure all of you under 25 would find that a very strange concept! I always remember my mum saying to me as a teenage ‘it’s not a fashion show you know’ I never understood because all I wanted was to look like all my friends, they always came across full of confidence and I just wanted to be the same. Obviously all grown-up now it makes total sense what my mum was saying, I never had a school uniform so it definitely was a free for all on what everyone was wearing and how they looked. I mean fruit of the loom and high ponytails was a big trend in my day!

We are our own worst critics.

My early 20’s I found my body confidence with the attitude of ‘I don’t give a f**k’ i loved my body how I looked I had found my identity as a woman I felt sexy, it wasn’t until late 20’s when I was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy A progressive muscle-wasting condition, as I started fighting with my body more and more my body confidence gradually disappeared especially when I started using my first wheelchair. It slowly became a downward spiral in how I looked at yourself I wasn’t that sexy blonde with the ‘I don’t give a f**k’ attitude anymore, I now looked like I was carrying triplets and 3 dress sizes bigger.

It’s been a long road to love myself again – I still struggle at times.

With a real lack of relatable bodies within the media and fashion industry, it is even more difficult for people with disabilities to have a positive body image. Especially when Society tell you disability doesn’t scream sex appeal, plus I don’t know about anybody else but I find this Constant battle with our bodies is exhausting and so unhealthy.

A survey done in 2019 by Muscular Dystrophy UK found that 80% said the body image had a negative impact on mental well-being.

Loving our bodies can be so hard when Society sometimes doesn’t allowers, with people still thinking it’s acceptable to body shame someone’s image. The term ‘body neutrality’ has become more popular after being used by activists such as actor Jameela Jamil who started the movement called ‘I Weigh’ the aim is to understand that loving our bodies isn’t always realistic and having days where you don’t is OK – it’s about finding the balance. In the grand scheme of things it’s definitely a better and healthier way to look at yourself .

But. As much as I agree I think it’s harder for someone with a disability to not forget the role their body plays in how you live your life, you can’t just pack a disability away in the cupboard, so sometimes it’s not as straightforward to just detachment mentally from your body when your body lets down. For disabled people to truly feel confident, beautiful, valued and proud of who we are there needs to be more than a few movements to tell us that we shouldn’t give a sh*t what people think and that loving ourselves is okay.

So let’s show the world just how fabulous, beautiful and fierce disability is, and we need to see society embrace disability – not turn away from it.

💋 Kerry

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