Body Image in The Chronically Ill

Earlier this year, I found out that a long lost friend of mine had been diagnosed with Cancer. Terrible news to hear that at only 35 years of age, she was now battling breast cancer. When I heard the news, I was devastated and immediately contacted her again so that I could reconnect with Shona.

It’s strange, how with our busy lives – we often only reconnect when we hear bad news. It’s a shame that we’re too busy to reconnect on a simple level with those who once made a significant impact on our lives. After meeting up for a coffee, Shona eventually started to open up about her illness.

As one of the prettier girls at school, she was always very popular with the boys. I never thought that this woman would be capable of having body image issues! Yet, here in front of me, her illness surely had eaten away at her self esteem and body image understandably. Cancer is such a horrible and ugly disease, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

The good news with Shona is that she is on the mend and appears to have her cancer in remission! I find it inspirational how she has reclaimed her body image and has not let it affect her life. She said that she had bought a wig from this shop and as a matter of fact, I couldn’t even tell she was wearing one!

Hair loss plays such a huge role in the mental struggle for cancer patients. It really is a horrible illness. As someone who has a clean health record, I really can’t even begin to relate to the struggles she has gone through. While I do have my own body image struggles myself, these pale in comparison to the ones that Shona goes through on a daily basis. Even though I’m well and able at the moment, I might even go and buy myself one of those wigs. I love the coloured wigs!.

It’s moments like these that really make you realise just how lucky you are to be fit, healthy and be surrounded by loving people. It’s times like these that drive me to keep updating my gratitude journal. You never know how things like this can affect someone close to you, or even yourself.

You’ve got to live every day as though it is your last!

7 Easy Body Image Boosters

I wrote this article last summer for Love Twenty Magazine, and am reposting it today because boosting your body image never goes out of style.

If you’ve been a reader for a while, I hope you find it just as helpful as you did the first time around.
If you’re a new reader, this is a great article to start out with. Thanks for joining us!


Healthy eating, exercise and sense of style are all essential, but if a girl doesn’t feel good about herself, what’s it all for? Feeling good about yourself isn’t as difficult as it seems (especially on bad days) and I want to help you get in the habit of feeling confident and beautiful. Try out these tips!
1. Practice makes perfect, right? The more you compliment yourself, the easier it will get.

2. Write out a list of all the little things you like about your appearance. For example: I have fabulous legs. My arms look awesome when I wear sleeveless tops. I love how my eyes pop when I wear bright liner. On ugly days, go over your list for a boost!

3. Find a go-to clothing item that you always feel great in — be it a perfectly tailored pair of pants, sky-high heels, or a little black dress.

4. Spend as much time as possible around people who make you feel good about yourself and as little time as possible with the ones who bring you down.

5. Check out the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement. HAES embraces the fact that we all have different sizes and shapes and health is more important than fitting society’s beauty ideals.

6. Cover your walls with photos and magazine clippings of your body image role models. Think of women who are comfortable with their figures, no matter what they look like. Emulate their confidence. Ideas to start your collection: Lizzie Miller (plus size model), your best friends, Christina Hendricks, Beth Ditto, Lady Gaga.

7. Remember to eat healthy and exercise, at least most of the time. Work in lots of fruit and vegetables, water, and long walks or time at the gym — along with a slice of chocolate cake, glass of wine or lazy day in. Health is about feeling good, just like healthy body image is about feeling good about your body, regardless of what society says it should look like.

So, beautiful, which tip is your favorite? What would you add to the list?

About Me

Thanks for visiting & I hope you’ll come back again & again! is my blog-meets-magazine-meets-personal diary. I believe there’s a place in life for both serious discussions and fun frivolity.

I’m a very truthful, open person. I share pretty much everything with my readers: my experiences (including my battle against Panic and Chronic Fatigue Disorders), my favourite clothes and the places I travel. Openness is important.

Frequent topics discussed here include: Mental Health, my life, my freelance writing business, Canada and USA, the events I cover as a journalist, travel, and of course, Body Image and Fashion and Beauty.

Multiple articles are posted every week, each written with care, always in my quirky, feminine, friendly voice.

This site is packed with insightful articles, outfit inspiration, tips, tricks & giveaways.

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I worked really hard for this body

I ran into an old friend at Starbucks.

After the usual warm greetings and hugs, I said, “you look amazing!”

She smiled, “thanks, I lost 15 pounds”.

“Oh, I didn’t mean that you look like you’ve lost weight–”

She looked pained. “What? It doesn’t show?”

“I just meant you look beautiful and that shade of yellow really complements your skin tone. And those shoes are ador–”

She pursed her lips, playing with the straw in her fat-free tall mocha. “I’ve worked really hard for this body. You should be happy for me”.

That phrase. I loathe that phrase: “I’ve worked really hard for this body”.

Sure, some people do work hard to be thin. Tirelessly planning low-fat meals, spending hours at the gym, poring over calorie-counters. But why is that something to be proud of?

Then people like me, more zaftig than svelte? If we’re not seen exercising or dieting, we’re assumed to be lazy slobs. We haven’t “worked for our bodies”. We’ve just sort of fallen into being fat. And we should be ashamed of ourselves.

But the ones society really wants to fill with shame? Those of us who have larger bodies because of equally large illnesses– diabetes, PCOS, you name it– all correlated with fatness, but not caused by it (though many would disagree with that statement, fat is not a proven cause)? We work hard to stay healthy, to battle the illness itself, but unless we concede to losing weight to ‘cure’ it, we’re a lost cause.

What I’ve learned from this, is that all of us work for the bodies we have. God or nature (or both) gave us our body, but we toil to feed it, wash it, love it. And that takes a lot of effort, no matter your size.

Next time someone tells me she worked hard for her body, I’ll put my pudgy hand on my curvy hip, look her straight in the eye and say, “I know. So have I”.



I stumbled off the bus and ran for my life, across the street to a deserted curb. Digging my fingernails into my palms, I gasped for breath, my heart racing.

Was I going to die here?

Was I going to go crazy?!

I threw myself to the ground, sat cross-legged and clutched my purse. I rummaged for my container of pills and grabbed a tiny blue one, shoving it into my mouth.


Just as I swallowed the Ativan, I started to wretch, my throat burning and my mind screaming “it’s the end of the world! it’s the end of the fucking world!” until it went black, my head making contact with the building behind me just a little too roughly.


Okay, so I’m alive today. That means it wasn’t the end of the world. But for a good hour (that felt like an eternity), I was certain it was.

I suffer from panic disorder. This was a panic attack. One of the symptoms is stomachache. And it escalated, because….

I’m emetophobic. I have a severe, clinically diagnosed phobia of illness and vomitting.

Even typing that ‘v’ word I feel a little (read: a lot) queasy.

This phobia is something I’ve struggled with all my life.

Every single year of my existence, flu season has been torture. Unless you have a phobia like this, you have no idea. Every moment of the winter, I’m petrified. ‘If I sit next to her on the bus and she’s sick will I get sick and throw up and panic and die?’ Or ‘he just coughed so he’s got a cold and he’s going to give me his cold and when he gives me his cold I’m going to start coughing and coughing makes me anxious and I’m going to cough to hard and it will make me throw up and then I’m going to implode!’ On and on it goes.

When people complain about getting over a stomach bug, I try to be comforting and happy for them but inside, I feel nauseaous and anxious.

When I go to the movies, even amazing Oscar-worthy movies like Bridesmaids, I have a great time until the scenes with ‘jokes’ about puking. Then I feel like I’m going to puke. So I excuse myself, attempting to calmly say I have to refill the popcorn or visit the bathroom, when really I’m going to run for the exit and sit outside the theatre and teach myself to breathe again.

When I go to the doctor, she can’t use a tongue depressor or take a swab of my throat because that scares me. And I haven’t been to a dentist in years. For a while I couldn’t even brush my teeth for fear of being ill.

No one in my life understands. A few of my friends and my mom try, they really do… But then they say “I know you don’t like vomit but this is really funny…”. I’m sorry, it’s not that I “don’t like” it. No one in their right mind “likes it”. It’s that I have a panic attack when you mention it. It’s not funny. I’m not overreacting.

Just ask Howie Mandel or the International Emetophobia Society. This is a real illness. It’s not a prank. It’s not a box to tick on your Tumblr ‘lol omg I haz these phobias!!1!’ quiz.

I can attest that this is not an easy thing to discuss. I’ve struggled with it for 20 years (that’s my entire life) and have never written about it, despite the fact that I write about practically everything. I don’t even talk about this with my closest friends and family because I’m terrified they’ll ridicule me. I only once opened up about it to a therapist.

So if someone in your life suffers from this (or any other) phobia, take it seriously. Even if you don’t understand it, be compassionate. And for the love of God, fast-forward that Bridesmaids scene.