BODY IMAGE AND LYMPHEDEMA
Body image, something we all deal with – right? I feel women especially struggle with body image, but maybe that’s just because I’m a woman. Many of those living with lymphedema deal with body image issues, as well. I hear it all the time in the people I work with, as well as the stories I read from those living with lymphedema: people at war with their bodies and in turn at war with their souls. Endlessly trying to gain value and worth through the image we have of our bodies. Lymphedema does take its emotional toll.
GHOST, Why Perfect Women Shrink
I recently read a book entitled, “Ghost: Why Perfect Women Shrink,” written by Iona Holloway, which was incredibly moving and powerful. Iona’s book is about her journey to become whole again, instead of lost, ashamed and hopeless. Confronting her issues with dieting and perfection through much soul searching, acceptance and love she found her true self again. Her insights on the relationship we have with our bodies and how it impacts the way we feel, especially about ourselves, is brilliant.
BODY IMAGE AND ACCEPTANCE
Her story delves into her eating disorder and her struggle with perfection, but the story goes way beyond just this one aspect of body image. I myself have never struggled with an eating disorder. However, I certainly know the feeling of wanting to be accepted and approved of and the lengths I’ve gone to achieve it. Can you relate? Whether you are dealing with lymphedema or not, many of us have learned to equate our value by the size and/or shape of our body. The brainwashing is everywhere, whether subliminal or through the outright demands of societal expectations. This does not have to be! We can become whole again – loving and accepting of our bodies as well as our souls.
Although in deep pain, often dreaming about her death, Iona outwardly appeared to have a perfect life. How little we truly know of the suffering that others go through. We all think we are alone in our suffering. We are not! Everyone has their cross to bear, their mountains to climb. Do you struggle with the “not enough syndrome”? Many of us do, I have for years. However, this is not truth. It’s a lie perpetrated on us for far too long.
FINDING THE HEART TO HEAL
Our acceptance and love of self, right where we are, is the beginning of healing. Only in that safe space of acceptance and love can we truly begin. Iona’s book doesn’t claim to heal anyone, but it does claim to help you find the heart to heal. I think that is a good place to start, don’t you?
Brene Brown said it best, “You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” Be brave, embrace your body with acceptance and love. Know that your value does not lie in the size of your limb, but the size of your heart.
“Every single one of us deserves to be remembered. Let it be for the correct reason, for the true expression of your soul.” – Iona Holloway
Lymphedema definitely has challenges of its own when it comes to body image. You are so much more than your disease, so much more than your struggle. Your struggle with body image is not unique – it’s a shared experience by millions. This book is just one example, but there are countless others. Many more people struggle with this than you could ever imagine, many you would never suspect.
It all comes down to choices. Do we choose to accept, love and heal, or do we choose to struggle, hate and fight our bodies? Self care is a good place to start with loving, accepting and healing our bodies. How have you come to terms with acceptance and love of your body? Your story could inspire others to live a happier and more fulfilled life. Share in the comments below if you have insights or helpful tips. Together we are stronger, together we can.