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Jessica’s Coping with Lupus Corner

Celebrate July 3 National Compliment Your Mirror Day All Year Long!

Jessica Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Jessica, Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Director of Social Services
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation

Summer is here. This might be exciting for many as they venture from their couches and desks to run to the beach or a walk in the park, but for people with lupus, the hot rays of sunshine are more foe than friend. As we know, it’s important to wear sun protection like sun block and wide-brimmed hats, or stay under the shade. But sun sensitivity is not the only issue the summer brings up. Body image is another.

We are bombarded with countless ads of women and men in swimwear, for instance. Magazines love to share with us the secrets to getting that “perfect” beach body. I prefer a different set of instructions I’ve seen for beach goers; one that is more body positive: “How to have a beach body: 1) Have a body. 2) Go to the beach.” While beach going might not be an option for some people with lupus, what is an option is to embrace the body you have.

Learning to love your body is important for people with lupus because, from my experience and from research , unwelcome changes to a person’s body like weight gain due to prednisone use or hair loss, and scarring due to a flare, can cause a lot of emotional distress in people with lupus. 

When I recently learned that July 3rd is National Compliment Your Mirror Day I immediately thought of what my support group members have shared about the emotional challenges when it comes to dealing with unwanted changes in the body. National Compliment Your Mirror Day might sound like a silly, random holiday whose authenticity and origins are questionable, but I don’t think any of that matters! What matters is that someone was wise enough to highlight the need for us to look in the mirror and pay compliments to the reflection we see.

Body acceptance does not mean that you do not have goals for your appearance. It does not mean that you put your health aside by eating unhealthy food or not doing light exercise when you feel well enough to do some. It means that at this point in time, you show your body love and accept your body as beautiful. It seems that obtaining a perfect body is an elusive feat since perfection is impossible. Even the most fit, modeleqsue people can list all their body’s flaws. So if the goal is hard to reach, that means you will spend a lot of time sending constant and negative messages to yourself. You wouldn’t talk to a friend like that would you?

Another phrase that I really like is, “Only talk to yourself the way that you would talk to your friends.” Good friends don’t insult each other or tear each other down; yet we think it’s okay to insult ourselves. Even if you are not feeling so great about your body, it’s better to remember yet another saying, “fake it ‘til you make it,” than to insult yourself. Being kind to yourself, even if it will take some convincing, is better than being mean. Eventually, the kindness will be more of the norm than the harshness, and hopefully this will minimize some of the distress you feel related to your personal appearance.   Can you see yourself as beautiful even if it’s different than what you have been taught is beautiful? You can create your own definition of beauty by simply looking in the mirror.

Remember, confidence goes a long way! Have you ever seen someone who did not conform to society’s standards of beauty but you perceived as beautiful because you could tell she thought of herself as beautiful, and therefore helped you broaden your ideas of beauty? I have.

To celebrate Compliment Your Mirror Day , you don’t have to stand in front of your mirror and throw scripted affirmations at it that lack personal significance. Try looking at yourself, and instead of saying something self-critical, which likely comes easily, force yourself to find something you like about your appearance and pay yourself a compliment about that. You can be silly in the mirror too. Make silly faces. Dance. Be goofy! The laughter is an added bonus. 

Personally, I think Compliment Your Mirror Day should be celebrated 365 days a year. Try it. See how long you can go.

Visit our website for other simple suggestions, print brochures, catch up on our past webinars to learn more about lupus and share the information on your social media pages.

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Disclaimer: This website and its contents are designed for educational purposes only. Jessica Rowshandel, MSW is the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s Director of Social Services. She is not a physician. The advice provided is for educational and informational purposes and the Foundation does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment or therapy. The information provided here should not be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating a medical or psychiatric illness. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional care. Lupus is a very individualized illness; consult a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Telephone calls, emails, and online content do not constitute counseling services in any way. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation does not provide any medical or psychological services to its patients and users. For an accurate medical or mental health evaluation, participants should seek an evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional. S.L.E. Lupus Foundation employees, consultants, and agents shall not be liable for any claims or damages, and expressly disclaim all liability of any nature for any action or non-action taken as a result of the information generated by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation programs and its website, as well as the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook and Twitter pages.