Body Image

I was born with a rare genetic skin blistering condition, called Epidermolysis Bullosa (or EB as it’s better known). The best way I can describe it, at least the type I have, is waking up every day with new second degree burns, caused by smallest amount of friction or trauma, like turning over in bed. The effects of EB are incredibly visible; I have to wear bandages covering my limbs, I regularly have blisters and wounds on my face and neck, my left eye is scarred, and I’m often in my wheelchair.

Escrito por Melissa Smith, published más de 5 años.

As you can imagine, this can have a devastating effect on one’s body image and self-esteem. Especially when people decide to stand staring and pointing in public, or ask the ever-tactful question “what’s wrong with you?” I’m happy for people to ask, but phrasing is important!

But among the things that make me happy are clothes. I love clothes. I adore them, and I always have!! I am a qualified practitioner of retail therapy, and I happily brush up on my shopping skills at every available opportunity. I love the look, the feel, even the smell of clothes, all a part of anticipating the first time you will wear them. Several of my friends have requested that, should anything happen to me, I bequeath my extensive wardrobe to them. Which is a bit worrying, now I think about it…!

At face value, an entire day spent shopping often seems like a vacuous waste of time, but clothes and accessories can have almost magical powers. They can make you feel on top of the world, when really it’s resting on your shoulders, and they can help you to love parts of your body that you usually loathe. For example, my feet are a source of great pain to me, but when I look down at my beloved biker boots or patent wedges…all is forgotten (for a while at least!).

My belly, distended because several surgeries, is much less troubling when underneath my favourite French Connection or Ducie dresses. And why would anyone stare at my hands when they can look at a gorgeous, one-off bracelet? When I want to hide my sore neck, it’s just an opportunity to wear a great scarf or cowl-neck knit.

Clothes make people look at me differently, but in a positive way. More and more often people ask not why I wear my bandages, or why I’m in my wheelchair, but who made my jacket or where I got my dress. How I dress allows me to embrace the fact that I stand out from the crowd, and use it to my advantage. Clothes and accessories level the body image playing field in many ways, too.

I mean, how many women are lucky enough to be able to pull off every style, colour, material? Being short, very long earrings and maxi dresses will never do me any favours, but that’s nothing to do with my disability! Yes there are styles and cuts that do more for my body image than others (shorts and tights? Yes! Bodycon? No!), and I can’t wear sleeveless tops without a shrug of some sort, or heels bigger than an inch-and-a-half.

But when I wear my favourite outfit, I feel like I could dance down the street, singing “I’m Every Woman”. Because we are all the same really, aren’t we? Our hang-ups are just concentrated on different areas, or sparked by different events. We just need to know our bodies, and how to work with them, not against them.

What we wear can be a great medium for making statement, whether about politics, religion, culture or ethics. But I think the most important statement we can make, in this age of what borders on body fascism is, simply, “I feel great about myself today”.

Escrito por Melissa Smith, published más de 5 años.

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  • poorskin | publicado hace más de 5 años | Escrito originariamente en inglés

    Hello Melissa, I wrote you a long time ago about the problems in my eyes and you helped me ! This EB is a big problem for us but the best is to try to run a normal and happy life , the best possible .. see you soon , I am happy to read about you

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