As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would do a post to talk about scoliosis and body confidence.
Scoliosis is a spinal condition, and in my case my spine is curved in the shape of an ‘S.’ It’s a chronic condition, which means it’s something I have to live with forever.
Scoliosis has many symptoms including pain and stiffness but an important symptom is how scoliosis can affect body confidence, self worth and overall mental health.
When I was a teenager and first diagnosed, my body confidence was non-existent. I hated how I looked and would actively avoid certain activities and clothes because of my back. In my 20’s, I had scoliosis surgery, and whilst it did correct my scoliosis to some extent, I had to accept that my spine will never be straight and I still have a curved spine, uneven ribs and shoulders.
Now I am in my 30’s, and over the years I have learnt a few ways to deal with my scoliosis and body confidence issues. I wish I could go back in time and give this advice to my 14-year old self, but instead, I thought I’d share my tips here in case they help someone out there.
Dealing with Scoliosis and Body Confidence – 5 tips:
Tip 1 – Don’t let your scoliosis stop you from doing things
I can’t tell you the amount of times I have let my scoliosis stop me from wearing certain clothes (e.g. a bikini) or doing certain actives (e.g. swimming) because I was embarrassed about how I looked. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to wear the damn bikini but I can’t. Life is short and I understand how difficult it can be, but please don’t let your scoliosis stop you from doing or wearing whatever the hell you want. You look amazing and you will regret the things you didn’t do when you look back.
Tip 2 – Stop worrying what other people think
Ok so I still need to work on this one in general but what I’ve come to realise is, the majority of people only care/think/worry about their own stuff and they won’t even notice you or your back. I know to you, your scoliosis seems obvious, but most people won’t be looking at or focusing on your back, so stop worrying about what others’ think. Over the years I’ve had partners and friends that have not even noticed my scoliosis unless I’ve told/shown them.
Tip 3 – Scoliosis makes you unique
Your scoliosis is part of who you are, and it makes you unique. Who wants to be the same as everyone else anyway? I enjoy talking about my scoliosis as it provides a unique and interesting story. When someone notices my back/scar they want to know more. People are genuinely interested and curious and so don’t be ashamed to be who you are.
Tip 4 – EVERYONE has body hang-ups
Another thing I’ve realised, is that everyone has things they don’t like about their own body. Instead, try to focus on what you love about yourself and don’t compare yourself to others – your scoliosis doesn’t define you.
Tip 5- Learn to love and embrace your scoliosis
Over the years I’ve gone from feeling ashamed of my scoliosis to feeing proud. My scoliosis makes me who I am and it makes me strong. I now even show off my back and scar on social media, and I’m not ashamed anymore.
If you have scoliosis, be proud and love your body, after all it’s the only one you’ve got. Your scoliosis makes you a strong warrior. And there are a lot of us out there!
It’s also important to be kind to yourself. I used to call myself horrible names when I was a teenager which I won’t repeat, but that kind of negative self-talk is detrimental to your mental health. Instead you are strong, brave, powerful and amazing.
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.