Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Health vs. Image.

January 2013.
The day before yesterday, I read a blog post from Kayla's Life Notes called "The Body" and I thought it was a really interesting read. In keeping with this topic, yesterday in French class we had a debate, the subject of which was "the body and our changing attitudes". One point that kept on coming up was that the body equals image. It's interesting, because when I think back to before diagnosis, I very much would have said the same thing. Today, a lot of people have issues with the way they look: people are constantly on diets, make up is a necessity for most females, we spend money getting our hair styled, manicures, pedicures, facials, joining the gym, the list is endless. If we're honest with ourselves, we all probably have at least one part of ourselves we would like to change. I know I do!

In spite of this, however, when discussing the body, image isn't the first thing I think of anymore. The first thing that comes to mind for me is health. Now, I know this is because of diabetes, no other reason. Having type 1 means I am very aware of my body and when something isn't quite "right". As far as I'm concerned, there's no way you can have diabetes and not be in tune with your body. When it comes to foods, I know more or less how many carbohydrates I'm eating so I can then adjust my insulin, I know what it feels like to have high blood sugar, I know what it feels like to have low blood sugar (as experienced today, also in French class, rather suddenly!) Because of some of the long-term complications of diabetes, I get my eyes and feet checked regularly too. I've learnt that my body isn't "invincible" and that I have to take care of it.

For people with diabetes, I think the line between health and image is a fine one. It is well known that one of the symptoms of diabetes is rapid weight loss: by reducing your insulin dose or not taking any at all, people with diabetes are able to control their weight. It's neither a healthy nor a safe way of loosing weight, but something that many people do. We're too concerned with the way we look, something we can control here in the present, to consider the long-term consequences to our bodies, and not just with diabulimia (the omitting or manipulating of insulin doses to lose weight), but with other eating disorders as well and things we do in order to "look better".

I am in no way 100% happy with the way I look; like most, I have my insecurities, and I have found myself omitting insulin too. I am by no means a "model diabetic", writing to tell you you should be happy with your body and do everything the "proper way", as that would make me a huge hypocrite. But yesterday's debate really made me think about the lengths people go to in order to have the perfect body and image. What they don't think about however, is the damage they are causing their body in the long-term. We constantly compare ourselves to those around us, or those we see pictured in magazines (I'm also guilty of this), but we forget that we are all different and individual.

So, my message to you today is this: if you want to change the way you look, fine, go ahead, you can do it. Just remember to look after your body in the process: you only get one, so take care of it, and I'm sure it will take care of you.   

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