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Body positivity and disability - Lipoedema

Posted by What's Not 2 Love on



I remember it like it was yesterday....

I was in the park cycling along on my shiny new bicycle when I heard in the distance incoherent chanting. I took little notice until a group of children grew closer and I could hear what they were calling out... "treetrunk legs". I didn't realise at first, that their taunts were aimed at me until I looked down and realised my legs were larger than the "norm". It turns out I had developed a little known condition in the 60's called lipoedema.


(Photo courtesy of Lipoedema UK)

Lipoedema is a rare painful disorder of the adipose tissue. It essentially affects females and is often misdiagnosed as lymphoedema or obesity. It is globally misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, and the literature is lacking appropriate guidance to assist clinicians towards this diagnosis. However, the need to recognise this disorder as a unique entity has important implications to establish proper treatment and, therefore, its tremendous effect on patients. Early diagnosis and treatment can turn these patients’ lives upside down.


During the following traumatic teenage years I desperately tried to cover up my legs and disguise them by wearing flared trousers and maxi skirts (mini skirts were definitely out for me!). I was also referred for various hospital appointments and treatments. Compression stockings are not a good look for a teenager! I was offered diuretic medication and painful liposuction all to no avail. There is no cure for this debilitating condition and no amount of dieting will remove the fatty tissue. Thankfully, now there is an excellent Organisation for support, advice, research and guidance - Lipoedema UK.

As the years have progressed, I have come to terms with this health challenge and now view it as my "superpower". Firstly, seeing it as a challenge as opposed to an obstacle has raised my energy levels and provided me with so much insight into the workings of the mind/body connection. Secondly, I have learned how to overcome the negative thinking attached to poor body image.

This condition has taught me and provided me with a whole toolbox of personal growth skills which have enabled me to forge a career in the field of personal development by studying to become a qualified Lifecoach, working with groups of women and one to one coaching on empowerment. The work is truly transformational and it is a privilege to watch others go on to live their best lives, knowing I have played a major part in facilitating change.

The transferable skills I have learned from my own personal journey of being bullied and ridiculed due to my body shape have helped me gain compassion and empathy for anyone struggling with their self esteem. Either due to any form of physical disability or mental health issue regarding body image, resulting in the rejection of themselves for who they are, or making themselves miserable and/or depressed and anxious trying to fit into society's norms.


Participants in my Workshops and one to one clients often ask me two things:


 a) How can I meet someone and fall in love? 

My answer is you cannot possibly have a healthy relationship with someone else unless you learn to love yourself first. Self love is the beginning of a lifelong romance...after all "What's not 2 love"?

 b) How can I become happy?  

My answer is I don't have the ability to make someone else happy. It's an inside job. However, I can make you instantly unhappy by directing you to social networks, magazines, film and tv and do a comparative study of yourself with other people. Do this at your peril! 


It's time we put a stop to the numbers game. You are not defined by a number, be it your age, your size, or your weight. May I suggest you start instead identifying what your superpower is? Remember, you have a unique DNA, there is no one on this planet like you or ever will be again. So start celebrating your uniqueness today! Do this by bringing positive change into your life. Start loving you for who you are and not for who others think you should be.


Oh! and if you see another Queen with a "wonky" crown offer to fix it or let her know "wonky" looks good on her!



Ted Talk by Lydia Smith Sac. Dip Consultant in Personal Development

Bliss Lifecoaching



Finally, if you're feeling blue and struggling to see the positive, keep this poem on hand. Read it, then read it in reverse xx

Chanie Gorkin was no ordinary sixteen year old, and the piece she wrote (above) - Worst Day Ever? - is no ordinary poem. A 17 year old student (when the poem was written in 2014), Chanie is an Orthodox Jew and her poem, she explained, reflects the Jewish idea that it's possible to control how we see the world, whether negatively or positively: "I don't think there is such a thing as the worst day ever... I wanted to show how your day is really based on how you look at things."

(courtesy of



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