Combating internalized fatphobia when Cushing’s causes weight gain
How I learned to love my body, despite the effects of my disease
Cushing’s disease is known to cause weight gain, among other symptoms. While dealing with my first pituitary tumor, which was surgically removed in 2020, I gained 70 pounds. In the first few months after my second tumor developed, I gained 50 pounds. My body changed, warped, and shifted so much that I no longer recognized myself.
And it wasn’t just my weight that changed. Thanks to Cushing’s, I have striae up and down my stomach, acne scars on my breasts, and a hump between my shoulders.
I hated my body when I first got sick. I would wear large clothes to hide any visible fat and constantly tried to combat the weight gain. Eventually, though, through therapy, I realized that my habits were unsafe. I wasn’t eating, I was counting calories, and I was hiding out in my room. I needed to make a change.
Internalized fatphobia can be very difficult to unlearn. I grew up with WeightWatchers, diet fads, and media that perpetuated the idea that fat equals ugly. Every time I looked in the mirror, a tiny voice in my head told me I was unattractive, disgusting, and unworthy of love. I had to work really hard to learn how to love my body.
Changing my mindset
I started by shifting my media intake. I unfollowed celebrities and followed beautiful, fat content creators as well as disabled and chronically ill creators. I followed people who looked like me. I saw them living their lives, being happy, and feeling beautiful, and it helped me change the way I felt about myself.
Next, I bought new clothes. I had waited patiently for my weight to go down so that I could fit into my old clothes, which left me with nothing to wear. Buying clothes that fit me and my new body helped me to embrace it. I used to hide my body, but now I’m posting pictures of me in swimsuits online.
Of course, I have insecurities. There are pictures of me that I’m not fond of and moments where I don’t like how I look. However, I love my body now more than I did when I weighed 120 pounds. I’ve talked to a few other people with similar stories and the common denominator is that losing weight doesn’t help you love yourself. Embracing who you are and shifting your mindset does.
That being said, I am working to lose weight for health reasons. I gained 120 pounds as a result of my tumors and that has put a lot of stress on my body. The additional weight is hurting my joints and puts me at a higher risk for heart and liver issues. My goal isn’t a number or to get to where I was before I got sick, however. My goal is health, my goal is happiness, and my goal is to love myself.
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