I Am Not My Legs

I am not my legs.

Sadly, I spent most of my life hating my legs and my feet, never understanding why I had to be different from everyone else.

At age three, I was diagnosed with lymphedema in both legs and feet because of missing lymph nodes. Lymphedema causes swelling and discomfort through the affected areas. If not treated, severe infections or even amputation can occur. My mother tried her best to make me feel normal, always finding shoes that fit somehow, even special ordering when she needed to. Try as she might, I always knew my feet looked weird and my legs were more than just fat. I felt like a puffy, swollen misfit most of the time.

I lived in long pants or skirts, and as long as I could stay in my comfort zone, I had an almost unexplainable confidence about me. Because I hid my insecurity away, I almost forgot it was an issue. However, as it always does, society’s unrealistic standards of beauty would punch me smack dab in my face time and time again. Whether it was the constant stares if I dare exposed my legs and feet in public or an awkward intimate moment with a new partner, the reminder that I was different was never far away.

Something changed in my early twenties. I started to slowly shift my entire way of thinking. Up until this point, I was the responsible one, the fashionista, the best friend, the women who carried herself with confidence and pride. I wasn’t the girl with weird legs to anyone but myself so I questioned myself: Why continuously act like it?

I entered into a relationship with my current partner, who challenged my way of thinking when it came to my body. Through facing my insecurities head on, I found that a lot of my self-doubt came from society’s portrayal of beauty and our need to constantly compare ourselves to others. The posters of models plastered in my office, on my phone, and at home began to dwindle until they were eventually all removed. Quotes about self-love and body acceptance soon became my means for inspiration.

I found the world of body positivity and knew I had to share my story. I created my Instagram following with Eat the Cake Too, where the goal is to stop being concerned with what anyone has to say about these beautiful bodies of ours.

We live in a society that loves to tell us what we can’t have and what we can’t do, especially when it comes to our own self-image. I’m on a mission to change this and prove that being different does not make us any less beautiful. Being different does not define us. I am not my legs, my lymphedema, my insecurities, or the insecurities of others.

I am a confident, driven, self-loving warrior! I will spend the rest of my life showing others that they are worthy, as well. And I am just getting started.


Previously posted here.

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About the Author | Carmen Smith

Carmen Rene is the founder of Eat The Cake Too, a body love movement reminding everyBODY that they are worthy of self-love. Her mission is to remind others to step outside of the box society has put us in and find what makes you happy. Carmen is a Lymphedema Warrior, using what makes her different to spread positivity and self-love.

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3 comments to "I Am Not My Legs"

  • Moonsey

    Thank you Carmen for doing your bestest to break the double standard stereotype culture has in regards to what constitutes feminine beauty.

  • Maria

    Just saw your story on Shake My Beauty on Snapchat. I adore you. Shared your story with my family and friends. Thank you for helping pave the way for other strong and beautiful women to take up space and feel worthy of self-love. We’re with you every step!