Words by: Arushi Thakral Art by: Georgia Lilley
TW: Medical condition/pain/suffering
The simplest things often have the greatest complexities. Our bodies are simple — or are they? Well, I could never tell because mine hasn’t been the easiest to get along with.
At a very early age, I knew my body was different, it wasn’t how I wanted it to be, and just that feeling dominated my entire existence.
I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 11. I was still getting used to the world when I was put on pills for the cysts to dissolve because it seemed curable, and apparently it was, until one day I had shooting pains down my leg, so much so that I started screaming at the top of my lungs. At 13, it turned out the cysts were now bigger than normal, and my body started to change.
My skin was home to acne, my lean body got broader, I gained 20kgs, I had stretch marks, my face changed, my personality tumbled down, and my self-confidence — well, let’s not even go down that road. I was quieter, I was scared and shaken, not because of what people told me, but because I could see myself change, every single day, piece by piece. And in no time, I lost myself altogether.
Finally, I went through an operation. Physically, I was at my best, but mentally, I didn’t even know who I was. And that’s the thing about our simple bodies: they’re deeper than we think they are.
I lost five years of my teenage years to comments about how I looked, how I dressed, how I was unsocial or an introvert. I did not know how to carry myself and I felt that my acne scars and facial hair was ugly, that my body was manly, and I was too fat to be treated conventionally. I was my own worst enemy and I hated myself.
If you went through anything similar, you know I’m not exaggerating — but how did you deal with it, your body? I couldn’t have done it without my mum. I hated myself, but she loved me, firmly. She gave me reassurance, called me beautiful and taught me how to be pretty from within. I worked hard, every single day, gathered the courage to face the world and waded through to accept the new me and overpower the constant domination of my own insecurities and worldly expectations. I lost weight, but my body structure had completely changed. I grew my hair, but the hair quality wasn’t the same anymore.
Today I am confident enough to have travelled alone to a new country and socialise with people without getting insecure about my appearance. I have enormous respect for the miracle in motion that is my body that went through so much, but refused to quit. I adore my stretch marks (or thunder strokes, if you will) because they remind me of the power that I hold within and constantly give me courage to sail-through obstructions without second thought.
We strive hard, everyday, to become who we want to be, but it’s important to give credit to our very simply tangled and uniquely structured bodies—because at least they make it possible for us to dream.