My Body Image

Last updated: August 2022

Having an illness that appears indistinguishable to the public, yet is crystal clear to myself, is challenging. Even with an invisible illness, I found that parts of my body that were affected by CF to be detectable in my appearance. It was usually only myself that noticed, but I hated feeling different or self-conscious. There was no reason to be as it was things I couldn’t control, yet, I struggled for a long time.

My struggles

I was mainly self conscious about my stomach. My small intestinal bacterial growth (SIBO) causes my stomach to bloat out to where I look 6 months pregnant. It’s painful and sucks when I have an outfit planned and then I have to change because my stomach doesn’t fit. I tried to suck in my stomach but became self conscious that my ribs were sticking out. There were no good options.

Additionally I am a short person. I measure 5 feet even and 5’1” with thick socks. My height was always an issue. My parents claimed that if I didn’t eat vegetables I would be short forever. For the record I love many veggies, therefore, it may not be my fault. I should blame them for passing me these genes. Being 21 and having all of my younger cousins pass me in height is not something I’ll brag about. However, I can shop in children’s shoes so I get a huge discount. I like to celebrate the little victories.

I never dealt with clubbed fingers and toes, but I do have a tough form of aquagenic wrinkling of the palms. Swimming pools, showering, any water activity makes my feet and hands swell and crinkle to the point they go numb. I don’t know that I was self conscious of this but it definitely bothered me. I used to have a lot of acne on my face from the constant use of my nebulizer mask. My doctors insisted I use the mask and not the mouthpiece because of my sinusitis, which I despised. It made my face oil up and caused redness and acne for years. I saw dermatologists but nothing helped.

Coping

Just this year I saved my money to get my scars removed. I believe it’s called laser resurfacing where they essentially burn the top layer of skin to injure it, so it heals over properly. I wanted to be one of those people who embraces their scars but I’m just not that person. But that’s okay with me, if you don’t like something, change it!

But for the things you can’t change, don’t sweat it. I spent so much of my life comparing myself to others and being self conscious that I forgot to enjoy my life. Also I discovered that everybody is so consumed with making sure they’re presenting themselves how they want, they definitely aren’t focusing on me! At least that’s what I tell myself. It seems to calm my anxiety for the day. I realize too that there are so many parts of my body I can be grateful for, even if I’m not 100% happy with it. I am alive, I am supported by medication and people, and parts of my appearance I really do enjoy; little victories again.

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