Body Image is one of the biggest challenges faced by a new amputee. I’m a member of many amputee support groups and it does not surprise me that so many amputees have difficulty coming to terms with their new body, which does not fit the norm.
Body image issues are so prevalent in modern society, that even average folk (people without any amputation or disfiguration) have a negative perception of their own bodies.
The first point that I want to make in this article is that there is no such thing as absolute beauty. Beauty has a social & cultural context. That means, what one finds beautiful is to a significant extent dependent on society & culture. And media shapes society and culture. And media is driven by monetary interests to make us feel ‘not beautiful’ in our natural state in order push products for us to buy. So, if you are an amputee, you need to throw away any preconceived notions of beauty that you may have prior to your amputation. So that you can start from a clean state, and understand beauty in a completely different light.
Secondly, no matter where one goes, no matter which society or culture one belongs to, ‘Healthy is Beautiful’. We are biologically tuned to find healthy specimen of our species attractive. Good health does not imply six pack abs or 16 inch biceps. Good health is what radiates from a person moderately fit & full of life. Good health is what your new definition of beauty ought to be.
Third, an amputation is not a sign of bad health. An amputation in itself is not a disease. It is a loss. You might have had an amputation due to a disease or an accident, but most likely your amputation was in order to get rid of the ailment, and prevent it from spreading. So, there is no reason to be ashamed of your amputation. This is one of the biggest challenges. Too many amputees are ashamed of their own bodies and try to very hard to cover up their limb loss in order to fit into the tradition image of the ‘normal’. I’m not saying that an amputation a good thing either, or that you should wear it up your sleeve like a medal. It is not. It is painful, it is a significant & unrecoverable loss. But it is not a sign of immorality, criminality or weakness. So there is no reason to be ashamed of a limb loss.
Consider your amputation as an experience. And you have the choice to make good of it or worse. The worse side effect of an amputation is that it poses challenges when it comes to taking care of your health. Both functional & emotional challenges. And in the short term it also has a direct negative impact on one’s health since you are bed ridden, on severe medication & in so much pain. But you can compensate for the short term negative health impact by working on your health and looking healthy and attractive otherwise in the long run.
Finally, to make good of your amputation, consider it as a chance to a new life, & motivation to take better care of the your body. Do not let amputation make you obese, ungroomed, or otherwise unattractive due to bad habits such as drugs or alcohol.