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Thursday December 5th 2019


Flying With Broken Wings: Learning To Love Ourselves

Post Published: 24 April 2010
Category: Column, Flying With Broken Wings, Thyroid Symptoms and Effects Column
This post currently has 30 responses. Leave a comment

(Written by, Sarah Downing: Editor, “Flying with Broken Wings”, Dear Thyroid)

When a chronic illness such as thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer strikes you down, it changes the way you see yourself, the way you look and your ability to live a normal life. Unsurprisingly, all this can be a heavy blow to your self-esteem. Today’s “ideal woman” is not only expected to look good, but take care of her family and home and enjoy a successful career. Subsequently, many women put themselves under pressure to achieve this ideal. However, it is important to realize that such ideals are ever-changing fickle whims and it is therefore much more important to be the person you feel able to be. Of course, the same applies to men, but I have noticed that men are subjected to less societal and media pressure to fulfill a certain stereotype. As a result, many examples in this article are from a female perspective, but no man reading this article should feel excluded and in fact I’d love to hear about your opinions on this matter.

Such pressure and stereotypes are nothing new. Let’s take a look at the Victorian era when women were obsessed with obtaining a fashionable 12-inch wasp waist. As a result, some women wound their corsets so tight that they broke ribs and crushed their internal organs. Expiring was a frequent occurrence as women had a reduced lung capacity like today’s asthmatics, long-term smokers and lung cancer and emphysema sufferers. Forget about sitting down or even bending over! Just like Sir Mix-A-Lot on my sister-in-law’s phone, the Victorians liked big butts, hence their penchant for layered petticoats, hoops, and bustles, which often added as much as 15 pounds of additional weight.

The awkward hoop or cage truly lived up to its name – a steel frame placed under the outer skirt, it could have circumferences of up to eight to ten yards. This bulky contraption made it difficult for women to move and some women even caught fire by standing too close to candles. To complete the humiliation, the skirt had an embarrassing habit of blowing up to reveal the woman’s undergarments.

At the turn of the 20th century, what is considered to be the first ideal of American beauty was created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. The Gibson Girl’s hourglass body and aristocratic features were considered the ideal for American women of the day and this persisted until 1914 when World War I broke out in Europe. Previously considered a forward, uneducated gold digger in European countries, Gibson gave the American woman a makeover by combining the spunk and wit of American youth with traditional female beauty. Amazing to think that Gibson’s pen and ink stories could give birth to an entire feminine ideal!

Then came the 1920s when hemlines rose and Coco Chanel introduced the little boy look. Waistlines were dropped and some women even bound their breasts with strips of cloth to look less like women. Elastic webbed girdles replaced corsets for the look of a flat boyish abdomen. The loose flapper dress silhouette became en vogue and such de-emphasis of the womanly silhouette (perhaps in line with women finally getting the vote) stood in stark contrast to the years that had gone before.

Things changed from the 1930s to the 1950s: the era of the Hollywood screen siren. Women became more body conscious and began lifting weights to tone their arms and legs that were accentuated by the cuts of the day. The padded cotton stretch bra was introduced and designers such as Chanel, Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli began bringing out glamorous attire for women to flaunt their curves. Once again a turn-around compared to the androgynous 1920s.

In the 1950s, women continued to emulate their favorite movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner. Women were under pressure to look good at all times – sloppiness was not tolerated. Dressing to allure and attract a suitable suitor, women subjected themselves to girdles to hold in their stomachs and cinch their waists. Petticoats were all the rage as the wider skirts were thought to make the waist look smaller.

Whilst curviness was “in” in the 1950s, just one decade later, the influence of skinny models such as British model Twiggy planted the desire in women’s brains to become rake-thin. This craze continued throughout the 1970s. Thin equaled sexy and women such as singer Karen Carpenter sometimes starved themselves to achieve this ideal. In Karen’s case, she starved herself to death due to anorexia, which resulted in heart failure at the age of 32.

In the 1980s, aerobics reigned supreme and women were expected to watch their weight, whilst appearing toned without looking overly muscular. All these demands gave rise to a skyrocketing of eating disorders.

The obsession with fitness and watching your weight continued in the 1990s, the era of heroin chic (a strung-out, emaciated appearance), which was ushered in by super skinny supermodel Kate Moss.

Today, women are still expected to be impossibly thin. Some even have cosmetic surgery (including bleaching of armpits and anuses) or swallow dangerous diet pills to achieve this aim. Sadly, gone are the days when curves were celebrated. Size 0 models parade along the catwalks and Size 0 clothes hang in our stores. Over the last century, women have gone from hourglass beauties with uncomfortably cinched waists to androgynous rebels to curvy man hunters to slimming fanatics. No wonder that women find it difficult to keep up and feel as if it is impossible to conform to each decade’s standards of what is considered beautiful. This entire progression merely serves to illustrate how fickle and meaningless such standards are, particularly as they can be ignited by an illustrator, ethereally beautiful screen stars, a rake-thin model or today’s fashion magazines and media.

As I’ve mainly focused on European and American fashions, I’d like to say a few words about the rest of the world. From the 10th to the early 20th century, Chinese girls and women were forced to undergo the barbaric ritual of foot binding to achieve the desirable and “sexy” “lotus feet”. In a way, this could be considered a counterpart to the era of the restrictive corset as it also led to health risks such as gangrene, serious infections and severe pain. Indeed, the process itself involved curling under the toes and breaking them without any pain relief whatsoever! The feet were then bound and rebound as often as possible and each time they were bound even tighter without paying heed to the girl’s screams of pain when the toes were sometimes broken in several places or even dislocated. After this torturous ordeal, the girl was then forced to walk around to crush her feet into the desired three-inch shape. Like women with corsets, women with “lotus feet” suffered limited mobility. As a result, they were unable to take part in politics and social life, became dependent on their families and their men and were considered an attractive symbol of chastity and male ownership.

Similarly, certain African and Asian tribes subject their women to earlobe and lip stretching, female circumcision and the wearing of neck hoops to make their necks look longer. Such practices may seem bizarre, barbaric and unattractive to us, but we shouldn’t forget that it wasn’t all that long ago that we were putting our women through similar tortures and although women are no longer trapped by a corset, the corset of societal expectations is still omnipresent.

With the helping hand of my very own Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune underactive thyroid), I gained around 63 pounds between the ages of 18 and 31. I used to be a slim and slender Size 6, but gone are those days – in fact, my mother would tactfully remind me of this by telling me “what a lovely figure I used to have.” Without a doubt, such comments hurt every time. I used to dread visiting my parents as my dad was overly eager to weigh me “so we could track my progress” and my mother felt the need to ration my desserts because obviously my weight gain was due to overeating and lack of exercise. The sad thing is it wasn’t. It was my thyroid wreaking havoc throughout my body.

In retrospect, I think that it is often not us who are insecure about our weight, but others (friends and family) who are obsessed with it and thus make their well-meaning but hurtful and interfering remarks. I grew up with a sister who was sometimes asked if she was anorexic because she was so skinny. She was also compared to Ally McBeal. She was definitely hurt by the anorexic remarks, but she didn’t mind the latter comparison one bit. I felt like the fat sibling who was doomed to be left on the shelf. She married at the age of 26 and it took me until my 30th birthday to meet my Prince Charming or rather Prince Corey. Another thing that thyroid disease has done to my body is to give me a pair of thyboobs. I am naturally busty, but since the onset of thyroid disease I have gone up to a DDD cup. My sister once remarked that my new boobs looked like the airbags of a car.

The thing is, despite all this weight gain I think I learned to accept myself. I came to like my curves – I was never larger than a US Size 14 anyway, but when you have a family who is super skinny and live in a country where women simply aren’t as busty – here in Germany, it can be tough to get a bra larger than a D cup at times – you don’t exactly feel like you fit in. Indeed, I once spent a whole depressing afternoon in search of summer tops only to find one single one that the girls would fit into because it happened to contain a stretch fabric. Shopping in Germany has made me feel like a fat freak. This is a country where a US Size 12 is considered big (in fact, the equivalent Size 42 seems to be rather smaller than the US Size 12) and you often have to go to special stores for “chubby women” (I even saw a store entitled just that: “Fashion For Chubbies” and sadly I am not kidding!) On top of that, whilst the department stores do occasionally stock ranges for “larger women”, the one time I saw this there was a huge sign that might as well have been in flashing neon lights and of course there was no one over there. I stopped shopping here years ago. I never even tried to look for jeans. One time my mother told me she didn’t think that I’d be able to find any jeans in my size. That made me feel like a beached whale.

One of my other hang-ups was having photos taken with people who have more petite features. I’m not unphotogenic, but on those photos I would always look big in comparison. Sometimes I even find myself envying our cat Biscuit who is skinnier than I am and who I am sure does not have a thyroid problem!

My self-confidence finally turned a corner when I met Corey. It is evident that there is a huge market for women who don’t fit into the smaller sizes, but still have the right to look stylish and on our first trip to the US, I realized that the US malls were responding to this trend. It was no longer impossible to find nice clothes to fit. I could find Size 12 and 14 in almost every store, plus the clothes were cheaper and more my style anyway, so I took the opportunity to go on many shopping sprees at New Jersey’s malls. At the time Corey was still working in the US, so our trips over there were frequent. I realized that stores such as New York and Company did stock my size and they actually had clothes that made me look and feel good.

One person who helped me in my journey to self-esteem is the photographer Anne Vogt. Anne is married to Corey’s friend in New Jersey and the first time we met she asked if she could do a free photo shoot with me to promote her business. I think for some women this is their dream and I was one of them. I enjoyed trying out different poses and generally feeling good about myself. It was amusing to watch as guys stopped their vehicles and tooted their horns. Truly, it was an unforgettable experience. My face is now featured on her homepage along with the photo shoot and it is also her I have to thank for my Dear Thyroid profile photo.

The lesson to learn from this is: learn what works for your body personally and get clothes that fit well. If you are large, trying to hide it with baggy clothes is going to make you look larger. One thyrella whose weight has fluctuated her whole life told me how she began making her own clothes once she reached a certain size. She also recommended shopping online, as many of these stores feature a wider range of sizes. Another option is to ask a local tailor to make something for you or tailor one of your existing garments for a better fit.

Possibly because I have Hashimoto’s and PCOS (double weight gain whammy ahoy!), I’ve never been underweight, but I know that many thyroid sufferers (particularly those with hyperthyroidism) experience the other extreme. That said, despite the fact that hypothyroidism tends to result in weight gain, there are actually hypothyroid patients who can’t gain weight and are afraid of speaking up for fear of being ostracized by the thyroid community.

All too often society (and sometimes we ourselves) fail to realize that every body is different. We can all be beautiful in our own ways and just because the media portrays a certain image does not mean that we have to adhere to it. Instead, we need to embrace the body that we have. I know it’s easier said than done, but societal pressure is something that we need to be aware of and realize that it is not to be taken seriously. My whole life, I never fit into the narrow ranges proposed by the BMI. At 154 pounds, I was a slim but naturally busty Size 8, but BMI dictates that I should weigh much less at a height of 5’4”. The problem is that BMI does not take into account individual figures or big boobs and it was never meant to be used on individuals anyway. This great slideshow perfectly illustrates how wrong it can be.

One trend that is nice to see is that certain companies and television programs are endeavoring to boost women’s body confidence. The cosmetics brand Dove makes a point of featuring women with “normal” figures and celebrities such as Gok Wan present shows such as How To Look Good Naked. Apparently, Gok was bullied as a kid for being overweight, so it is incredibly refreshing to see him turn this around in his efforts to help women who are unhappy with their bodies

I talked to various thyrellas. One thyrella B told me how she suspects that her gastrointestinal issues may possibly be related to her hypothyroidism. One time she was bloated so badly that her shoes didn’t fit. She was desperate for the toilet and didn’t have time to go home, so ended up hobbling to a friend’s apartment and as she puts it “blowing up his bathroom”. B feels that it is vital to accept the fact that our bodies are out of whack and to stop blaming ourselves because we have no control over this. B explains that “I haven’t lost a ton, but the fact I know I can’t control the acne or the other body stuff – well, I think aside from all of that I have a hottie in here … and apparently that hottie is busting out (no pun intended). I’m getting hit on like whoa all of a sudden. I think it is really a matter of how we carry ourselves. Literally the day I accepted it wasn’t my fault and I was going to take ownership of only those things I had control over, that was the day guys started whistling at me and honking horns. Very odd. But if I am obsessed about my flaws then that is the only thing others will see too.” I think that B puts it very well. A large part of appearing attractive to others is our attitude to ourselves. B goes on to say “My friends don’t care about how I look – just that I am happy.”

D talked about how her thyroid caused her to gain over 44 pounds. She feels alone and saddened by her friends’ and family’s reactions to her weight gain and is ashamed to show them how physically and mentally exhausted she is. Her parents and husband assume she overeats and are unsupportive, telling her she “looks like a balloon”. She has experienced a surge of new hope since finding Dear Thyroid and Mary Shomon’s site. She is confident that now she may be able to overcome her problems.

As a result of her whacky thyroid dehydrating her skin, R has more wrinkles and her skin condition keratosis pilaris has worsened. Excess protein in the skin causes bumps to form on the upper arms, side of the face, or forearms. This requires constant exfoliation and moisturizing. It’s a real battle. Her teeth are now more brittle and several have cracked since her thyroid quit, so she brushes, flosses and uses ACT Restoring Mouthwash to strengthen them. Her once thick hair is now thinning and she has a thinning spot in the front portion, at her forehead, so she alternates her parting to prevent if from getting even thinner. Taking kelp has also helped her hair. She also lost hair on her eyebrows, arms and legs (the last two she is not exactly sad about). R is thankful for the love and acceptance of her family and friends. She enjoys bright colors to flatter her figure and spending time with her loved ones in the sunshine: “I would tell everyone that is having issues to get out into the sunshine. It really does help! Staying inside makes it easier to wallow in the depression and the sunshine is free, kicks the blues and helps to promote vitamin D in our bodies for happier moods and stronger bones!”

J misses her active teenage years when she biked and rollerbladed, swam and ran. She feels as if everything has gone downhill since her diagnosis in 2000. Her energy has been zapped, so she is no longer able to be as active as she once was. Subsequently, she struggles with weight gain and the impossible battle of weight loss despite diet changes and exercise. This makes her feel very anxious. She takes the vitamins and prescriptions her doctor recommends, but as she is on Medicaid she is limited in terms of what is available and can’t afford to see another doctor. J recognizes the importance of believing in yourself and doing your own research: “I just have to tell myself that I am beautiful, that it isn’t my fault no matter what people and even doctors have said about my weight and that I AM worth being treated correctly. Just sticking with it until I find the answers. I’m so new to everything and I’m still learning about it all, so the more info I find, the more I can take to my doctors to help me.”

In summary, we need to learn to love ourselves, realize that we are not alone (communities such as Dear Thyroid are particularly helpful here), wear clothes to flatter our figure whether skinny or curvy, tell ourselves we look good and enlist the help of loved ones to do this and, last but not least, focus on our health. At the end of the day, we may not (yet) look the way we would like, but our first priority should be to get to the point where our bodies are healthy.


1. Beauty through the ages

2. A photo collage of female body shapes in the 20th century

3. A timeline of sexy defined through the ages

4. Fashion through the ages

5. The Gibson Girl

6. The Gibson Girl

7. Corsets and body modification (the wasp waist)

8. Chinese foot binding (lotus feet)

9. Earlobe stretching

10. BMI illustrated

11. Interesting blog post on healthcare and overweight patients

12. Fat-friendly health professionals

13. 10 tips to boost body confidence

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30 Responses to “Flying With Broken Wings: Learning To Love Ourselves

  1. Christina says:

    Sarah,thank you for this article, and (as always) for being so open about your own experiences and issues.
    We have to learn to accept ourselves the way we are and stop trying to fit those ridiculous trends that we get to see in magazines and on tv each and every single day.
    It is so frustrating to think that beautiful are forced to become a size zero just to fit into a dress that would look just as good (maybe even better) if it was a few sizes bigger.
    I don, ´t even want to start thinking about how many women have died in the past couple of years because they wanted to be thin.
    Ladies (and Gentlemen of course) we are all beautiful in our own way.
    Most people don, ´t even have a clue what it feels like to deal with disease like ours every day, so please don, ´t let their comments about your appearance ruin your self esteem.

  2. Hey Christina – Thanks for your comments. I think it’s important for me to be open so that others feel comfortable being open too. To give my family credit, I feel that they have learned a lot since my diagnosis and have become a lot more understanding. They have also ceased their commments about my weight. I think they remember me as a Size 6, but I honestly don’t think I am any less attractive as a Size 12 (I dropped a size since diagnosis when I was a Size 14).
    The magazine images and societal expectations are ludicrous, aren’t they? So many young women beat themselves up because they can’t fulfil these expectations – for many (me included), it is physically impossible to get down to a certain weight simply because we are all made differently. Society needs to wake up to this and stop promoting eating disorders and other suffering because of its demands and stereotypes. I had a friend with bulimia and it is a terrible, terrible illness. Libby thought that she was so terribly unattractive and yet she was beautiful and clever. I don’t know where she is now (this was when I was 18), but I really hope she is happy and, above all, at peace with herself!

  3. Sarah, I absolutely LOVE this article. It’s perfect. Thank you for addressing the underweight aspect as well. You are right…it’s hard to speak up about feeling underweight for fear of being lashed out at. The combination of thyroid cancer and being hyperthyroid has rendered me quite underweight. I look anorexic, but I’m not. I don’t like saying anything about it to certain family members because they think I’m lucky for being so skinny. Lucky? Really? I’ll trade in my thyroid cancer for twenty pounds any day of the week.

    You are so right–what it comes down to is learning to feel good about yourself regardless of how society says you should look.

    Great article.


  4. Hey Joanna – So glad you enjoyed my article. I was happy to address the underweight issue – I’ve never been underweight (although I was skinny a long time ago), but it is evident that it can go both ways – whilst some people pile on weight due to their thyroid, others lose weight and, at the end of the day, it is really about finding a happy medium for yourself. I don’t go by BMI or by what other people think, I go by what I think and feel. We are the ones who have to live in our bodies and we know what feels best for us. I love your last sentence – it encapsulates so well what I am trying to say:
    ****You are so right—what it comes down to is learning to feel good about yourself regardless of how society says you should look.****

  5. PS: Joanna – I’ll happily trade you some of my 20 pounds. Fancy a swap?;-)

  6. Ha, Sarah! You don’t really want to trade–you’d much rather have twenty pounds than thyroid cancer. 🙂 Perhaps we can work out another deal?

  7. Good point, Joanna. I’ll have to think up another deal too propose to you;-).

  8. lori says:

    Sarah – thanks for addressing this and giving such a great history of fashion trends and how it has played a role in our self-esteem/self-worth for generations. It really is sad. I dread being around certain people because it seems they can’t not talk about weight and how difficult it is, when they are size 0 to 7. I feel like an outcast in those situations and I shouldn’t. Size and weight never influenced me before, in myself or others. It’s always been about how I feel, but I don’t feel good or healthy at the weight I am now, so being in those situations makes it difficult.

    I used to love making my own patterns and clothes. I am inspired by the thyrella who makes her own clothing. I would love to notch out enough time to do this again. I barely have any clothes now because I thought I would start losing long ago and fit in my old clothes, but this is not happening and it doesn’t help to be wearing the same things over and over. Part of the reason I avoid clothes shopping is because it’s very painful to bend and try on clothes, plus I don’t know how to shop for myself anymore – nothing seems to fit. I need to make this important though, I know it would help to make me feel better in the meantime. I haven’t even unpacked my sewing machine since we moved almost two years ago.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, Sarah, and talking about a subject that is very difficult for so many of us thyroidian’s.

  9. Hey Lori – Thanks for sharing your experiences. The history of fashion trends has always fascinated me personally and I felt it was a good way to illustrate that this is in no way a new phenomenon. I know what you mean about feeling like an outcast. Here in Germany, I feel like I am mostly surrounded my skinny women and with my big boobs I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb. One guy even told me that he heard that British women have big boobs because we eat so unhealthily. Could he be any more insulting and wrong? A lot of times here, I have come across the misguided belief that big boobs means you are fat – no, it doesn’t! It is possible to be busty and slim – look at Dolly Parton (and apparently – or so I am told – hers are natural!)

    The thyrella I referred to who (used) to make her own clothes – this was when she was considerably bigger – is someone you and I know quite well.

    I am so sorry that you have such issues with clothes shopping. I don’t mind clothes shopping in the US, but here it is just fricking pointless and always will be no matter how much weight I lose because the clothes just aren’t cut for curvy figures. I may lose weight, but I’ll never (and I don’t want to) lose my curves. The same goes for jeans – you have to find the right brand to fit curves. One particular brand has really nice jeans, but I can’t even really fit into their men’s jeans – ridiculous!

    As for weight loss, I have found that I lost some on the thyroid tablets, but I’ve been losing so much faster since I’ve been on the Metformin (for high blood sugars) – I love the fact that my gyno is so proactive. He really does care about my wellbeing.

    I hope that you come closer to getting a body you feel more comfortable in. I am so sorry you have to go through this. Nobody should have to go through this, but I guess we are all in it together.

    Hugs, S

  10. Laura says:

    Loved the article Sarah! Love the history lesson too 🙂 Here i am thinking how overweight i am and how hard society is on overweight people, and yet when i saw the horrific pictures of foot bindings, (omg,omg,omg!)and to think that was the acceptable way to be, or the female circumcision, restrictive corset to have a size 12inch waist,etc… Holy cow batman women have had it much rougher then our male counterparts. I think i will gladly accept my overweight butt anyday compared what our women in the past have had to go through.I realize even today in other countrys they still have it bad. Thanks for including the links as it sure made it easy to check out all that you mentioned. I can only hope that a good change is gonna come.

  11. Hey Laura – As you know, I think you look great;-), but I can understand that people tend to be more critical of themselves. It is however great news that since you have switched to the compounded med that you are starting to lose more weight because I know this makes you feel better. GO LAURA! In fact, the historical and cultural part I talked about was the most fascinating part for me to research. I figured there would be things there that some people might now know and that could therefore be very interesting to learn about. I agree – women have indeed been through such barbaric tortures (and still are undergoing them). Did you read the whole Wikipedia article on foot binding? – I didn’t include the half of it – like how they sometimes put shards of glass into the bindings if a woman had fleshy toes or how toes sometimes dropped off – I figured it might be too much for some people to stomach, so that’s why I included the links in case people wanted to find out more. As for female circumcision, supermodel Waris Diri wrote some very interesting books on her experiences with this. The first one I believe is called Desert Flower: http://bit.ly/ciJzsm.

  12. Rain Corr says:

    Sarah does it again! Good job, girly!

  13. Laura says:

    Thank you Sarah you are too sweet 🙂 and you are right I am always my worst critic and tend to beat myself up at times.
    I bet you were very intrigued with the research for this article as much I was reading it. I have to admit I was very appalled ,grossed out, sad and truly flabbergasted when I saw the pictures and read more about it on the links you included. Probably best that you didn’t include that in the article as I am not sure if the weak at heart could have handled that. I just cannot imagine who or why on earth they would think that was acceptable, really what harebrain idiot thought of that?


  15. Lolly says:

    Sarah another great column from you full of history and focusing on loving yourself not how you look.


  16. Thanks, Rain – you’re such a sweetie!:-)

  17. You’re right, Laura. Some of these procedures are truly humiliating and painful. I too was horrified when I read about them. Hugs, S

  18. Hey Katie – Thanks for your support (as ever:-)) Glad you enjoyed reading the column. As I mentioned above, it was equally fascinating to read. It was one of those columns that I had been putting off until I had the energy to do the research, but now I’m really glad that I wrote it. Next week’s is going to be a continuation of the topic.

  19. Hey Lolly – Glad you liked my column. I know that type of advice is something that we all (including myself!) could benefit from.

  20. cindistraughn says:

    BRAVO! Great article and excellent research!
    One thing I stopped doing a while back is looking at most of the women’s magazines because of the unrealistic models and the advertising for all the “beauty” products. It just wasn’t healthy for me and tempted me to “compare”. And unless I’m in “poor me” mode (thank you hormones), my “plain and simple suits” me just fine. It is who I am now.
    Rejecting society’s expectations of what I “should” be interested in (staying young looking, the latest fashion, many shoes and all sorts of beauty products, etc.) has given me lots of freedom. I don’t condemn those who like those things at all; I just don’t want to be judged for having different interests.
    I do think its a shame that society can’t “see” our strength (and all the other virtues that we develop) that we exhibit daily as we manage our chronic thyroid disease. Now that’s real beauty you can’t buy in a store!

  21. Cindi – Thanks so much for your kind comments. You are so right – we need to focus on what is right for us, not what some superficial magazines or society itself dictate. Personally, I enjoy buying shoes, but I have been buying shoes here in Düsseldorf because I have found a particular store that stocks comfortable yet cute shoes and, in my experience, it’s much easier to find shoes like this here in Germany than in the US. I enjoy some beauty products too, but beauty routines can really get quite overwhelming at times. I used to do more when I was younger. As part of my translation work, one of my specialist fields is cosmetics and beauty, so I sort of have an insider knowledge of that. Another field I translate a lot in is fashion, which partly explains my interest in topics like fashion through the ages. I love your last sentence – it so rings true: ****I do think its a shame that society can’t “see” our strength (and all the other virtues that we develop) that we exhibit daily as we manage our chronic thyroid disease. Now that’s real beauty you can’t buy in a store!**** I congratulate you on feeling able to be yourself Cindi – I think we are most attractive and enigmatic anyway when we let our true personality shine through!

  22. Joanna Hageman says:

    All I can say here is that you have totally Wowed me once again! Thank you for including all my statements and including more of the things that really hit the spot. Like all of your other writings, you really have a way of putting things into words that I myself can not seem to express. Thank you for doing this! Your dedication will be remembered for a long time! <3

    ~Joanna Hageman

  23. Joanna – Thanks so much for your kind comments. I was happy to include your statements – you gave me some very relevant stuff and I’m sure others will be able to relate to it. I really enjoyed writing the piece, so I’m very happy if people enjoy reading it!

  24. HD inOregon says:

    Great article Sarah!

    As a man, and as an avid admirer of the female form (being an artist and having some testosterone running through my body) I have come to appreciate and love the human body as it is. Beautiful and exiting, no matter what shape or gender it is in. Some are small, some are larger (like myself), some are well endowed in certain areas, other are more moderately proportioned. – Bottom line, we all are humans beings, and that is the way we come. – As you said it Sarah, fashions come and go quickly, but what is important is that we should feel “good” and comfortable in our skins. No, we don’t need to feel “perfect” (few are), and we don’t have to mimic what fashion dictates us is “in” these days.

    Hey, take it easy. Don’t worry! Live! Enjoy! Experience! Experiment! Go out (of your skin) more!

    HD in Oregon

  25. HD – What a beautiful and very apt comment! I reqlly love some of the paintings you have done of the female form – you must have studied it in quite some detail. I wished I could have included more about how things have changed for men, but I don’t feel as if men have had to go through the same transformations. The main thing that has changed for men is hairstyles and clothes. That said, some of the links include more details on male fashions and are quite interesting to read. I love your positive vibes – they are really quite infectious!:-).

  26. Cynthia says:

    I think this is my favorite article so far! Fantastic job once again! I love the history you gave us! I also agree with thyrella “B” “A large part of appearing attractive to others is our attitude to ourselves.” I have seen this change in myself too. Lately, ive had the energy to go hang out and have girls nights and Ive totally surprised myself. I talk to strangers now and I was told a few weeks ago that I have that “Oprah aura.” Very outgoing is what I used to be and I see it coming back again. Ive been feeling better about myself. Ive been able to go to the gym almost every day and run 3-5 miles. I have not weighed myself because i dont want to get discouraged, but can see a change in my clothes. Another thing that has helped me is my photography. Like you Sarah, I have found my passion and it makes me very happy.

    with love,

  27. Cynthia says:

    Oh one more thing.. the BMI slideshow is awesome! YOu all must check it out.. it makes me feel so much better after seeing that. According to my BMI ive like severely obese .. im not.. that chart shoudlnt exsist!

  28. Hey Cynthia. So glad you enjoyed my article. Yes, I agree – thyrella B obviously has a very healthy attitude:-). I’m very happy that you have noticed such a positive change in yourself. You are definitely a talented photographer, Cynthia, and I am very glad that you have found something you are so passionate about. It can be so rewarding and fulfilling, can’t it?

    As for the BMI slideshow – this helped me so much too. There are apparently many people whose figures don’t fit in with the BMI and it’s good to know that we are not alone. I have the same issues. Basically, even when I was a Size 8, I was still classed as overweight! The thing is I have broad shoulders (perhaps because I used to swim when I was younger) and a curvy frame. I’m not meant to be a Size 0, 2 or 4. It really is about finding what works for you and the stupid restrictions of the BMI cause more harm than good! I urge everyone reading to check it out. It is indeed very enlightening.

  29. Heide says:

    It is hard to grow up with a good body image, my mom used to weigh herself religiously every morning. Due to her psst weight issues she didn’t just get her weight she would wake at the same time get stark naked and balance on one toe and get on and of several times to get the lowest average. Her usual weight was around 180 but most of her younger years she had been close to 300. After she had developed hypoglycemia and gave up all sugar and did the Atkins diet for a full year straight she balanced at 180ish. After the year of zero carbs and sugar she developed breast cancer, and several other health issues, she had taken a diet to the extreme. Mom was a beautiful woman, but always thought of herself as ugly. When she was growing up her sisters, and mother were always smaller than her. I would say she fit the image of the pin ups used on Dear Thyroid, curvy and stylish. I wish she had known how beautiful she was inside and out. Often I used to feel unattractive due to my size and after I lost weight I felt unattractive due to my health. Keeping friends and family at arms length to keep from being hurt has become a bad habit. Knowing that it is unhealthy to think that way doesn’t make it any easier, some days I still feel the old thoughts of inadequacy. Even though I struggle with my own self image I try to keep it to myself and not let my 16 year old daughter see it or hear it from me. It is important that i do not pass that legacy on.

  30. Heide – Thank you for sharing the interesting story of your mother – very sad, but all too common, I fear. I know you have had your own body confidence issues and I do hope that you are managing to gradually resolve them. We have to learn to love ourselves for who we are and not strive for unrealistic ideals. We can only be the best we can be. I know that your daughter also has some body issues – it is sad that she has to deal with this at such an early age. I am hoping that with the right treatment, things will improve greatly for her.

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