RArainbow

A resource blog for young women living with (Juvenile) Rheumatoid Arthritis


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How to feel confident when people stare at you because you limp

When my (Juvenile) Rheumatoid Arthritis is acting up, it makes me feel drained and tired. Instead of feeling like a young woman, I feel like I have lived through a war and I’ve somehow fast-forwarded into my 90s. I imagine that my hair is grey and that I look haggard. I try to hide my pain, but I still fear it’ll show on my face that I feel worn down. My knees stiffen and I hobble, hoping that no one will notice that I am limping badly. I don’t want any attention at this point. I certainly don’t want any cute guys to stare at me while I’m in such a state! If they came over I’d run (well, hobble) in the other direction because I wouldn’t want any of them to see me limping. I just want to fade into the background and I don’t want anyone to look at me.

Have any of you ever felt like this when you limp? That’s a pretty sad way for a young woman (or man, or person of any age) to feel, right? I sure think so. flowerWhen I was younger, that’s how I’d feel when my problematic ankles and knees caused me to limp and I had to walk in public. I felt self-conscious, especially because people would stare. It was tough dealing with stares as a child, but gradually I got used to it. As I grew up, my skin thickened, I became more confident in myself and I learned to not worry about what other persons thought. It’s only natural that persons will stare (though it’s still rude!) at something they’re not used to seeing. Now that I have a fused ankle, my limp comes about more often, which means my feet are getting stared at a lot. It took some time to get used to the almost-constant stares, but I’ve been working at accepting it as part of the amazing-young-people-with-arthritis situation ;). I’d like to share some Rainbow tips with you 😉 :

1. Let’s start with the superficial first. Take pride in your appearance. Okay, so you’re limping. You might have some joint damage so your hands look a bit crooked, your knees a bit swollen and your elbow can’t straighten. That does NOT mean you’ve suddenly become unattractive and are now disqualified from ever looking beautiful! You are beautiful at this moment. So dress your beautiful body in whatever you love. Get rid of the oversized pants and wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself. You’re already standing out with your limp so you might as well stop trying to fade into the background. That isn’t going to happen. Put on a little make-up or do your hair. Paint your toe nails in your favourite colour since your feet are getting all this extra attention ;). It doesn’t matter what you wear specifically. The key here is that you must feel good about how you look, no matter what physical challenges you are dealing with. There’s no need to hide your beautiful self. Let’s treat our bodies kindly, ladies.

2. You’re getting attention. Make the most of it. Sometimes when I’m limping I catch people staring at my feet. I also have a surgery scar on one of my ankles and I often find guys staring at it in surprise. I usually ignore stares, but sometimes I’ll smile at my starers. It catches them off guard. Sometimes they look surprised and sometimes they smile back. Sometimes they get embarrassed and tell me hello. A smile is an amazing way to soften a tense situation. Now, I don’t really recommend you go around smiling at strangers like you’re crazy. But once in a while you can try it and see what reactions you get. If you prefer not to smile, then at least try to enjoy the attention a little bit. Which brings me to the next point….

3. Everyone is staring at you. Including cute guys your own age. You’re a beautiful young woman. Enjoy it! Guess what, friends? Many women pay big bucks for beauty products, make-up, clothes, breast implants etc. just so they can stand out from the mass of females and get attention. Congratulations to you – all you have to do is walk and people will notice you. And some of these people are definitely going to be guys your own age. I know that sounds deathly scary when you are limping, but think about this: even if a guy is noticing your limp (or walking aid, or wheelchair, or surgery scar), he is still noticing you. Whether we want this attention or not, guys are noticing us because we stand out due to the way we walk. I want you to realize that limping doesn’t make you unattractive – it’s just means you walk differently. No decent guy is going to care that you limp. A truly decent guy is going to be concerned and will want to make sure you aren’t stressing your body. Soon after my ankle surgery, I remember heading out to the supermarket to do some shopping. I was sporting a fresh surgery scar, an amazing limp and a glamorous granny-style cane to help me steady myself as I learned how to walk again. I remember most people STARING at me, but I ignored it because I was just happy to be able to walk again. I also remember a lot of young guys staring and then smiling encouragingly at me. Although it was weird being stared at by almost every person that day, it was not a completely negative experience.

4. Love yourself with your limp. Or walking stick. Or brace. In the past I’ve written about loving ourselves and learning to accept our physical limitations with arthritis as well as the way arthritis may physically affect our bodies. Part of accepting arthritis means embracing everything about this disease  – including the fact that we may limp from time to time (or all the time),  or that we may have to use walking aids or wheelchairs. There is no shame in any of this. I’ve learned to accept that I am a woman who sometimes walks with a limp, in addition to possessing so many other qualities. Loving ourselves and growing that confidence with arthritis can take some time, but we surely deserve it for everything we endure every day. Do you agree? If we are always going to be stared at, we might as well start enjoying this attention, don’t you think? Let’s love ourselves, love the way we walk and feel comfortable. And if we feel brave enough, smile :D. It is just too much pressure to walk around feeling insecure about something which is part of us. Once we show that we are comfortable and confident, it will make others feel comfortable too and they will hopefully be able to see beyond the limp.

Further reading:

Readers, how do you deal with stares from strangers due to your limp, walking aid etc.? Please share your suggestions, questions or experiences so we can all learn together. Thank you!

Hope you’re all well,
❤ Ms. Rainbow

[Image by pixabay.com]

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