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How I’m Practicing Body Positivity by Accepting My Hydrocephalus Surgery Scars

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In 2021, I have decided to fully embrace my body. My body has survived severe trauma. My trauma has left me with physical scars, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hydrocephalus, anxiety and depression.  It has also left me with resilience, determination and a will to keep living.

What I want to talk about today is body acceptance. For me, body acceptance and body positivity means acceptance of the physical scars on my body as a result of surgeries due to hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the result of a buildup of fluid in and around the brain. It can be organic or the result of trauma. In my case, my hydrocephalus resulted from severe childhood abuse. I have had 22 surgeries and, as a result, have four scars on my abdominal area and 18 on my head.

It has taken me a long time to accept the scars on my abdomen and head. Growing up, I was ashamed of my body and always tried to hide it. Changing for gym class, cheerleading practice, gymnastics class or trying on bathing suits was always a struggle because of the deep shame that I had. What changed for me was going to therapy and confronting my shame head-on. It was revisiting my traumatic memories from my last surgery at 13 years old. It was seeing a body-positive movement. In particular, two of the people who have helped me on my journey is singer-songwriter Demi Lovato and actress Emma Hunton, aka Davia from the show “Good Trouble.” Both women inspire others to accept their bodies as they are. They are influencers who teach body acceptance. Acceptance is what I did not know I needed to do for myself and for others around me who see me as an example and a leader.

I started small, looking at my scars without judgment. Seeing myself as beautiful. Seeing myself as a resilient survivor.  Being intentional with my inner monologue and the words I use to describe myself. I am finally coming to terms with my history by accepting me. It is time I give the same acceptance to myself that I give to others.

I think of it like this: without my scars, I would not be alive today! Each surgery I had was to save my life; each scar is a reminder that I fought for my life. I needed the surgeries for my health and well-being. My scars are a symbol of my resilience and determination to overcome trauma. My body and my scars are beautiful as they are. My last surgery was in 2001 and I remember being terrified about having another scar and of losing my life. I did not lose my life and my recovery was difficult, but I am alive and I am grateful. Now, I realize just how brave I was and enduring all that I did. The headaches, nausea, the needles and the scans! I hope to never have to have another surgery, but if I do, I know it will be to save my life.

For any of my #MightyTogether followers who are struggling with body acceptance, I see you, I hear you and I send you support! My hope is that you will take some inspiration from my journey and use it for your own. I write this to anyone who has been shamed or ashamed of their scars.

You are beautiful and handsome just the way you are!

Photo by Tsunami Green on Unsplash

Originally published: January 11, 2021
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