How This Woman Quit Being Self-Conscious of Her Cerebral Palsy: ‘I Used to Hide Away’
Author and social media influencer Keah Brown writes about her journey toward body acceptance while living with cerebral palsy.
There are three things that I know to be absolutely true in this world: Cheesecake is delicious, Paramore is one of the best bands ever, and women are way too hard on themselves. OK, fine. The first two are just my humble opinions. But the last one I learned through years and years of anecdotal evidence. See, I spent most of my life being too hard on myself.
Here’s something you should know about me to understand the journey I’ve been on. I have cerebral palsy, which means, among other things, that I walk with a limp and have a right hand that balls into a fist and lifts itself in the air involuntarily. People stare at me everywhere I go. Because of this, I used to hide away and apologize for the space I took up. I would even use the sleeves of my shirt to cover my right hand so that no one saw my bent fingers.
This was just a small sign of the shame and anger I felt toward my body and myself.
Thankfully, I no longer feel that way. How’d I change all that? A few years ago, I forced myself to start every day by looking in the mirror and saying out loud four things that I liked about myself in that moment.
This small addition to my routine made a huge impact. I began to genuinely like the person I was for the first time in my life, and I was inspired to create a hashtag that I started using online. It was #DisabledAndCute, and I encouraged other women to use it. I wanted others to embrace what they loved about themselves and start talking about themselves in a positive way— the hashtag wound up going viral! From there, I started speaking at conferences, writing articles, and even got a book deal—The Pretty One just came out.
I firmly believe that without standing in front of my mirror to say those four things I like about myself, the rest of this would not have been possible. Those positive affirmations are different every day—sometimes they are about a kind act I did, sometimes they are about liking my outfit—but they all have led to a domino effect that made everything else possible. One clear sign of how far I’ve come in appreciating my body and myself? Clothes hold a totally different meaning to me now. I love shopping and have come to realize that picking clothes is about highlighting and enhancing what I have—not hiding. Just look at my book cover! That hand that I used to hide? It’s fully on display.
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