BLOGGER BODY IMAGE: MY SCOLIOSIS STORY10:00 am
I thought it might be a good idea to talk about my body image and my scoliosis. Hopefully you'll find it an interesting read. I'm 5'6", a UK size 10, considerably healthy, I do not know how much I weigh as scales are banned in my house and I lost my puppy fat at the late age of 15. I always had a mental list of things I wanted to change about my appearance; my yellowish teeth, my bumpy nose, my ugly freckles, my chubby upper arms and cheeks, my slightly-overdid-it-on-the-chocolate tummy and my deathly pale legs. I was fortunate enough to have my teeth whitened after my braces were removed for my 16th birthday, over time my freckles have faded slightly but there's still a few pesky buggers, my cheekbones finally made an appearance after losing my puppy fat and as I got older my legs turned slightly less, shall we say, purple. So I'm left with my nose, arms and belly.
At some point during primary school I hurt my nose and over time I noticed the bone around the bridge becoming a bit wider. I was assured it was just part of growing up and got on with it. Then at around the age of 14, I was hit in the face with a tennis ball (thanks for that, by the way) which resulted in a bump on the bridge of my nose. This has bothered me literally every day since and you will never see a picture of me completely side-on because of it. Sometimes I catch my side profile in a mirror and literally want to burst into tears but I have to accept that there's nothing I can do about it. You're probably thinking 'err, what about a nose job?' and I wish I could, but due to my ridiculously huge phobia of needles (I don't remember exactly where it came from and why but there we go) surgery isn't exactly on the cards for me.
I have never obsessed over my weight, which I would say is a rare thing amongst girls in particular my age. In a perfect world I'd have a flat stomach and toned upper arms but the fact is I'm tremendously lazy and my scoliosis prevents me from doing certain exercises such as running or anything weight-bearing. However one of my new years resolutions is to get back into yoga or pilates. Throughout my school years I noticed people counting calories of school dinners, going on fad diets to prepare for parties and some suffering terrible illnesses which I wouldn't wish on anybody. This is where I'd also like to mention that if somebody suffers from an eating disorder, it may not be down to the media alone. Eating disorders are mental illnesses which can be triggered by external influences but ultimately are chemical imbalances in the brain. No one chooses to be sick, so please don't criticise sufferers for their actions, channel that negative energy into helping with recovery. Plus retailers like Urban Outfitters selling pro-ana t-shirts (as well as ones labelled 'depression' and 'misery loves alcohol') is a disgrace.
It seems everybody has something unique to them that will always cause them body worries and mine came at the age of 17. During a dress fitting a few years ago, my mum noticed that one of my hips abnormally stuck out compared to the other, but we didn't really think much of it. A few months later I got an excrutiating pain in my left hip which led to me visiting my GP, who said it was just a random pain and recommended I take some paracetamol. Two weeks later and the pain was showing no sign of subsiding, so another doctor examined me. During the usual routine questions doctors ask you, oh gosh there are some awkward ones aren't there, we established that I have a family history of spine curvature; I remember my nan basically doubled over walking around with her zimmer frame. I was shipped off to the hospital for a million and one tests. Thank God none of them involved needles. I was scheduled for countless x-rays, nerve tests (what are they even called?), an MRI scan and I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to stand in my underwear in front of a team of doctors. Eventually, I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis, a curve in my lumbar spine of 18 degrees which means my hips, waistline and shoulders are uneven as well as my rib cage sticking out on one side more than the other.
Picture showing my scoliosis, which can be seen more from the front, taken January 2014.
I handled the news quite well and all of my friends and family were really supportive. The only scary part was when I was offered surgery, which would mean inserting metal rods into my back and taking atleast a year out of education. I was told having the surgery meant a normal posture, but a long scar down my back and the back pain would not stop, so I declined. In my case, the surgery would be purely cosmetic, but there are many scoliosis sufferers out there with much worse cases than me and apart from my silhouette and acute pain from sitting or standing for long periods of time, I'm pretty much okay. I've been offered surgery several times since and have another appointment scheduled for later on in the year where I will be offered it again and I will hopefully be discharged. Unfortunately that does not mean I'm free from scoliosis forever, it is a lifelong condition which will deteriorate over time. In October 2013 my spine worsened to a degree of approximately 26 degrees and this will increase as I get older, meaning the top half of my body will slowly slip further to my right. I don't want to look like a big letter S and I know how much pain I will have to endure when it's at it's worst, but I have to remember I'm a lot better off than most people, I do not have to wear a brace, I can manage the pain with painkillers and specialist equipment from disabled students allowance (available in the UK) who have been awesome. I'm so much more than my wonky body - by the way, I also have mismatched ears, different coloured eyes and one leg longer than the other! I've learned to dress for my body shape, joke about it and ultimately accept it.
Well done if you've managed to read all of this, it was a bit of a long one wasn't it? And I hope you've learned that every single one of us has our hang ups, something we're self conscious of and something we'd like to change. Don't tease people for how they look, they can't usually control it, and you should treat people how you would like to be treated. Stop focusing on what you dislike and every time you look in the mirror, compliment yourself on what you do like. For instance, I love my different coloured eyes so much I even named my blog after them!