Every Body Belongs

Friend asked me to post some lipedema fighter progress pics for women’s health awareness.

What started as pearshaped in my teens escalated into decades of fatshaming by health professionals & society as my ankles, knees, elbows disappeared beneath layers of dimpled fat & fluid that did not shift with diet or exercise.

I gave up, many times.

Diagnosed with lymphoedema in 2000, but had never heard of lipedema until a physiotherapist diagnosed me in 2009.

“Before” pics taken in Tasmania, 2014

My pics, (from shoulders down, too ashamed to include my face) sent to cosmetic surgeons around Australia – those who bothered to reply said they were unable to help.

The male-dominated plastic surgery industry’s profits lies in exploitation of healthy insecure women willingly spending obscene amounts of money on unnecessary elective procedures.

No one was interested or trained in fat disorders.

It was obvious there was no cosmetic surgeon in my country of birth who cared about the physical and emotional distress I was suffering, nor that of the other 10% of women who suffer from an inherited hormonal condition inhibiting our lives and the macro-level negative effect on our families and communities.

By 2016, I was unable to move around without physical assistance.

Then I found Anne Dancey in England – compassionate surgeon excelling in complex liposuction for lipoedema.

My life has been transformed by the removal of 35 litres of abnormal fat from my feet, ankles, legs & butt.

Last operation was 2017.

“After” pics taken Easter, 2019. 

I’m middle aged, saggy & baggy, some loose skin post-op.

My tummy & arms are still affected by lipoedema – but I am mobile again and unabashed.

My “dress size” doesn’t matter. 

It only matters that I am outdoors, active, that my thighs no longer sweat, chafe and bleed when I walk.

I can gallivant with my family exploring the world (currently Ireland) instead of waiting in the car alone with swollen unshod feet.

My butt now fits down the slippery dip in the playground…..to the delight of my sixth child.  I missed out on sharing that experience with my first five children.

  Lipedema robbed me of so much. 

BMI was invented by a mathematician in the 19th century & is a false rubric for health assessment, causing false assumptions about life choices made by “overweight people”.

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it. (From “If I Had My Life To Live Over” by Erma Bombeck)

I’m reclaiming my time.

The precious moments wasted, the times I stayed out of the sea I loved so my body would stay hidden from public view, decades of suffering judgement from fatshamers for an undiagnosed inherited condition I couldn’t control, the self loathing, the bouts of depression, the perpetual armour of self-deprecating humour, the clothes I “shouldn’t” wear.

The times I stayed in, to spare people the sight of me.

My despair was in even greater disproportion to actual reality than my thighs were to my waist, though. Most of it was in my head. I didn’t give many people a chance to reassure me of my worth, because I avoided most people.

I thought I was “too big” size 8. Size 10. Size 12. Size 14. Size 16. Size 18. 12. 14. 20. 24. 16. 14. 20. 24. 16. 18.

What difference does it make? Less than a century ago women made our own clothes, on mannequins modelled after our own bodies & shopping “off the rack” hadn’t become public exercise of conformity to sweat shop fashion and the male gaze.

Never did I think I’d be reacquainted with my ankles nor the feeling of my kneebones touching after decades of being trapped in a living unzippable fatsuit…the joy is unreal….but my ops were to restore mobility to a body in constant chronic pain, a body that was destined for a wheelchair unless I had surgical intervention.

Liposuction is not an easy option and it wasn’t a decision made out of vanity.

It was a lifeline, as I viewed my world shrinking to where I was bedridden, no longer able to engage in life as the independent woman I had been just a few years before.

Now, independent again in 2019, living in the moment and looking forward, but with some inner scars that heal slower than others.

My self esteem had four decades of being told that only skinny is sexy, fat can’t be fit.

Not true.

No-one should be made to feel there isn’t room for them to be among other people.

Life is for living, the Light is for later.

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