What do you see when you look at this photo?
It’s okay, you can be honest: it’s a poorly-taken picture of an empty moisturiser tub.
Well, that’s probably what it looks like to you, but to me it symbolises so much more.
It symbolises strength, healing, growth, courage, self-worth, kindness and hope, to name but a few things.
Let me explain.
I’ve had a..fairly rocky…shall we say, relationship with my body since my teens. My posture at that time my was such that my left kneecap had actually rotated inwards. I thought this was disgusting and I was ashamed that I’d let my standing position get so bad in the first place. Even after I had corrective surgery I would always make sure to keep them covered up.
I’m starting to accept my legs now, but I can still hardly stand to look at, or touch my own feet, which curl around strangely thanks to my CP. My left arm, which is also impacted by my cerebral palsy has a habit of looking like itit’s photoshopped in to pictures
As a teenager with no disabled friends and no disabled role models in my real life or in mainstream media, I somehow can to think of my body as being worth ‘less than.’ It was, to me, gross, and trying to do anything to it that would make me think it looked a bit nicer made me feel pathetic because I was doing it ‘wrong’.
I’d go through phases of wearing make up every day and trying to remember to moisturise twice a day, only for that no-so-little voice in my head to creep back in and tell that my face looked just as bad regardless of whether it was done up or not.
Moisturising was different. I hated touching my stomach, my arms, my legs. By this point I was also having issues with body image in relation to its shape and weight, which I’m not ready to talk about yet. Trying to stop my skin from drying out felt pointless when I covered up as much of it as possible all of the time.
Trying to look after it felt like I was trying to be kinder to myself than I deserved to be. Ultimately, that made me feel worse and worse until I stopped trying all together.
Giving in made me feel sad, but that was preferable to feeling guilty every time I tried.
So what’s changed, you may ask.
When it became clear that my dad was really very unwell at the beginning of this year, I made contact with a therapist. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may already know that I have a history of anxiety and depression, and I didn’t want to let those issues have chance to spiral in what was going to be a triggering time.
I never really thought that I would decide to face my body image and self-worth issues head on through our work. I was still trying pretty hard to pretend that they didn’t exist.
But we’re working on it and I’m trying and here is a photo of an empty tub of moisturiser that is proof of that.
The picture is actually a few weeks old now. I wanted to post it at the time, but the truth is that I still feel quite pathetic when I talk about this stuff.
But here it is.
Because, after all – I’m trying.