“A picture is worth a thousand words, this picture turned out to be worth $500…
“I’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game…
I never imagined a day at the pool with an underwater camera would lead to my story of living with Lipedema being featured on HealthCentral, nor that the contest would be an experience in itself. There are several stories to be told, the story of being fat shamed while at the gym when the picture was taken, the story of why I entered the picture for the HealthCentral #LiveBold contest, and the story of the connection I made with fellow contestant and second place winner Gabe Howard.
I became aware of the contest through the Obesity Action Coalition, I have been a member since 2012 and am known for being a strong advocate against weight stigma and bias. Upon seeing the contest guidelines, to share a picture of how you live bold with a chronic condition, I immediately thought of this picture. While I initially thought the picture made my butt look big, I quickly realized the powerful message captured in the moment. I crafted my words to fit the image and submitted it for the contest. I did not set out to win the contest, my only intent was to share my story. However, as voting continued I saw I had the potential to win and ramped up my social medial campaign to solicit votes.
One day I decided to check out the #LiveBold hashtag on Twitter to see which other contestants were promoting their stories. I came across Gabe’s posts, I had read his story and really connected. I began to follow him on Twitter and sent him a Tweet. I liked his story so much, that I started requesting that my friends and family vote for both of us. It turned out Gabe lived only two hours from me. Small world indeed, his father is actually from my hometown. Win or lose, I had made a new friend.
So then the announcement came and I won! My story was going to be featured on HealthCentral.com. This was huge, not only for me, but for the Lipedema and Lymphedema communities. The prize was well timed also, as I was preparing for my trip to Washington, DC to attend the National Lymphedema Network Conference and Lymphedema Lobby Days. I used the $500 Visa Gift card towards my hotel expenses.
So it turns out HealthCentral’s offices are located in Alexandria, VA and when they heard I would be in DC they invited me over to meet the staff, tour the offices, and lunch. I also filmed an interview with them to be included with my blog post, Living Boldly With Lymphedema and Lipedema
Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of your story…or a picture of you in your swimsuit.