Disability and weight – when anxiety and body image merge, much like my thighs…
Being disabled with mobility issues can affect weight management. Society needs to get over it. Body anxiety doesn’t help, either. Anxiety is a playmate that has a habit of turning up when they’re not invited…
Ok, so I feel we know each other well enough now for me to showcase all my neuroses. And isn’t there a plethora of them? But this one has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps it’s the unseasonable (sometimes even unreasonable) warmth that can make even the most buttoned-up Scottish girl want to trapeze around in Daisy Dukes. Lately I seem to be overly focused on my weight and body shape.
I’m aware I would not be considered (by most) as being plus-sized. I carry the weight on my thighs, and while I love my booty, it’s had me in tears more than once. You just feel a brand-new level of pathetic when you are sitting on your bed with your shorts halfway up your legs (or down, you don’t know anymore) and ugly crying.
My most recent meltdown was while I was trying on shorts for the TRNSMT music festival. My amazing partner talked me down and got me to wear a comfier pair of shorts so that, in his words, I could enjoy the day without thinking about it. And he’s right: I had an amazing day seeing two bands I’ve wanted to see since I was young. That fantastic experience was nearly ruined by my preoccupation with my body.
Another awful experience I put myself through: I got my partner to take pictures of me in my underwear in preparation for a summer holiday in Spain, as I was determined to wear a bikini. I asked him to take candid shots: unflattering ones, with bad lighting and me breathing out. My reasoning was that if I saw the worst it could be, it wouldn’t be that bad and I wouldn’t think about it. And he did. But I started obssessing, zooming in on what I saw as my ‘problem areas’ to the point where my partner encouraged me to delete the photos. He also swore never to take pictures like that again. Which I understood.
Like so many of us, I really don’t want to be obsessed with my figure. Honestly, I know in the grand scheme of life it’s not that important. However, being a woman or girl in this society means that so much of your value is placed on your looks and weight. And I am admitting I fall victim to this. Because it’s hard when you are surrounded by things telling you how you should look. It’s particularly cruel when you are disabled and can’t move around as much as your peers.
I was very active before I got ill ( doing swimming, basketball and all kinds of activities). Now, due to the pain and fatigue that comes with M.E., I can’t be as active as I desperately want to be. Instead, I do a weights routine and short workout taught to me by my physio.
When you are disabled you look at your body a bit differently. Or at least I do. I already hate my body for failing me so often. But I recognise how lucky I am, because a lot of my disabled friends have serious mobility issues. If you’re not able to move around much, you’re more likely to inadvertently gaining weight. Disabled people can also be on necessary medication which makes their bodies gain weight. Not only do you have people judging you for your size, but you have the added indignity of people implying that you’re using your disability as an ‘excuse’ for your weight.
I’m aware that there is sometimes nothing worse than an objectively thin girl complaining about her weight. I just wanted to make people feel less alone, because I understand that any worries you have can feel huge, regardless of what other people think, or what you think when you’re trying to be objective. And anxiety and body image usually touch and merge, much like my thighs!
If you would like to follow me on Instagram, my name is @fluffyacidtrip. I mostly post pictures of my cat.
Illustrations: Rose Jewitt
NHS disability and weight management links:
Tagged in: disability