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Scoliosis & Bikinis
A Guide for Self-Love During the Summer

As summer starts to roll around, or maybe it has for many of you, people begin to worry about their "perfect bikini body" and what bathing suit makes them look "skinny." I'll admit to being a victim to this thought process, yet that perfect depiction is always overshadowed by scoliosis, no matter what I do or buy. Before my surgery, my shoulders were always crooked, hips were unaligned, my neck and head always dipped to the side, and I could do nothing to change that. Now I have to worry about covering up my scar to make sure it heals properly.

I know I am not the only scoliosis warrior out there feeling this way. I know that someone out there struggles with body image and scoliosis, and they know that summer wardrobes do not help. It's easy to fall victim to the displeasures of our condition because it's hard to love something that makes us different than the rest of society. It's hard to feel comfortable in a body with scoliosis, braced or scarred at any time during the year. But when our bodies are constantly put on display with the shorter clothes that come with summer, its easy to feel self conscious.

I've had scoliosis all my life, so it sometimes is hard for me to think too much about how I look with it since it has been all I've known. Before my surgery, between standing, walking, or even sitting, I wasn't constantly reminding myself to stand straight or fix myself. However, I started to look at pictures of myself from behind in both a bikini and shorts or a tank top. I noticed my butt stuck out to the side, and I noticed most of all that my hips created a line between the upper and lower parts between my hips and butt. It was so embarrassing and I began to hate the body I lived in. To this day, it is still hard for me to see those pictures or videos.

I didn't truly understand the value of self love until after my surgery and I wish I had found it sooner. You can love your scoli-body. You can feel confident going to the beach or out with your friends in a cute top. You can enjoy taking the pictures that you want to take. It just all comes with time and much practice balancing love and the tiny voice in your head that wishes your body was different.

Here are some useful tips that helped me overcome this.

1) Daily affirmations- Telling yourself you love your body comes with time, so say it even if you don't mean it. Look at yourself in the mirror as you do this. One day, you will mean it, and it will feel so good.
2) Buying bikinis that fit YOUR body- Shop according to what you feel comfortable in and think you look your best in, not what you think others want you to wear. Your body is your own and nobody should take that from you.
3) Starting off slow- Loving something that's hard doesn't happen overnight. It takes work and practice. Start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in small settings, maybe with a group of close friends. Then work up to doing something bigger, such as wearing a top at a party or new bikini at the beach. Move at your pace, this is YOUR story!
4) Changing those negative thoughts- Every time you feel yourself falling into the well of emotions that comes with feeling ashamed of your body, tell yourself "NO." Take a breath and either change the topic, or take a risk and say something nice about yourself. Allow yourself time to heal and give yourself grace. (ie it was just winter! We as humans naturally gain a few pounds just by being inside and in comfy clothes, it is OKAY if your body changed a bit since last summer.)

Your body is worthy of being on this Earth. Believe me, I understand what it's like to feel defeated in my curvy body and I've learned its purpose in my life. Confidence isn't supposed to come easily to us, but the hardships and the journey we take to get there is what makes you human and defines our bravery and people with scoliosis. Changing that mindset and understanding you're not alone are how we are going to choose to accept ourselves every day. And that is how we can truly love showing off our scol-bodies.