Woman with incurable condition that causes extreme fat build-up in her limbs reveals how she overcame years of torment from bullies and found the courage to celebrate her body
A bold lymphedema sufferer is embracing her jiggle after years of being ashamed of her condition.
Cara Cruz, 36, from New Brighton, Pennsylvania, developed lipoedema and lymphedema as a teenager and the growing problem had a devastating impact on her confidence.
But after starting an Instagram account on a dare from her boyfriend, Cara burst out of her shell and into the body-positive community, and now she is determined to flaunt her curves.
Speaking out: Lymphedema sufferer Cara Cruz is speaking out about her challenge to accept her natural shape after spending years trying to hide it
Bold: The 36 year old’s condition causes fat cells to build up in her arms and legs
Brave: After years of hiding her body, Cara was dared to start an Instagram account by her boyfriend, and soon began founding support from followers online
Through her 25,000 Instagram following and meet ups with a local body-positive group called Yinz BoPo, the curvaceous beauty hopes to inspire more people to start their own journey to self love.
‘I think a lymphedema warrior is someone who fully embraces it and shows to the world out there that is part of me, this is a condition I can’t control,’ she said.
Happy: The Pennsylvania resident also joined a local body-positive group where she found help and support from like-minded people
‘What I would tell my younger self is, it’s gonna be okay no matter what hang ups or issues are in your head, or the voices from other people knocking you down, it’s more their issue than your actual own issue.
‘Just because I have these conditions that make me more pear-shaped and bottom heavy, doesn’t mean that I can’t put on a nice dress, still wear my compression socks, go out and look great.’
Lipoedema is a chronic condition that causes a build up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and arms and lymphedema is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling, which is caused by a damaged lymphatic system.
Cara said: ‘The fat cells hold in the lymph fluid and they can’t be lost through diet or exercise, they’re kind of damaged.
‘Lymphedema, I have it my lower legs, it’s where the lymph system is damaged so the lymph fluid flows down properly, but it doesn’t flow back up, it’s blocked.’
Although she was always a little bigger as a preteen, Cara never noticed until middle school when her peers began to slim down.
‘I had some weight issues as a child, I was always the chubbier child throughout my classes.
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