Lymphedema and Body ImageBODY IMAGE AND LYMPHEDEMA

Body image is 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 also deal with body image issues. I hear it all the time in the people I work with and 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, “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 our relationship with our bodies and how it impacts our feelings, especially about ourselves, are brilliant.


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 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 with the size and shape of our bodies. Brainwashing is everywhere, whether subliminal or through the outright demands of societal expectations. But this does not have to be! We can become whole again – loving and accepting of our bodies and souls.


Although in deep pain, often dreaming about her death, Iona outwardly appeared to have a perfect life. How little do 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 and their mountains to climb. Do you struggle with the “not enough syndrome”? Many of us do; I have for years. However, this is not true. It’s a lie perpetrated on us for far too long.

lymphedema and self careFINDING 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 an excellent 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.” So be brave, and embrace your body with acceptance and love. Know that your value does not lie in your limb’s size but in your heart’s size.

“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 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. So many more people struggle with this than you could ever imagine, many you would never suspect.

It all comes down to choices. Do we accept, love, and heal, or do we choose to struggle, hate and fight our bodies? Self-care is an excellent 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.lymphedema and body image


You might want to check out this book for yourself… “Ghost: Why Perfect Women Shrink.” Check out Iona’s website for more information and resources on body image and fortifying self-worth.Iona Holloway


Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.

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