When it comes to beauty, we tend to be our own worst enemies. We look in the mirror and pick ourselves apart. Some of us even project our insecurities unto others, critiquing them and making them feel worst so that we feel better.
Mahogany knew what it’s like to be judged and feel insecure better than anyone. Born with a disability that made her leg weigh 100 pounds meant that she was often the object of ridicule. She knew she was different, but still, she refused to get rid of that difference. Instead, she felt like it was a curse that she must find some way to overcome…
Born With Lymphedema
Mahogany Geter a 23-year-old woman from Tennessee, was born with lymphedema, a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in the body’s soft tissue. This made her leg swell up on the left side to the point of weighing 100 pounds.
Primary lymphedema is caused by alterations (mutations) in genes responsible for the development of the lymphatic system. These faulty genes are why the fluid doesn’t drain properly, and the fluid gathered in the body’s tissue can result in painful swelling. This disease is sometimes genetic but isn’t always passed on.
Mahogany was diagnosed at a young age. As she got older, the swelling got worst, and was focused on the left side. Her leg has swollen to a disproportionate size.
Bullied As A Child
Mahogany’s condition was visible, and kids weren’t shy in pointing it out to her. The bullying as a kid shattered her confidence.” I have had my fair share of ignorant comments, one person told me my leg looked like a ham roll, and one girl at school called me a deformed b***h. It has been so hard to rise above these mean people.” Mahogany said.
As she got older, she started to see her beauty and embrace her body. She turned away from the negativity and found support in the right people: “For the longest time, I felt so low about myself, but once I got older, and with loads of support from the online lymphedema community and my mom who is my inspiration, she is so strong, I realized how beautiful I am. Not only looks but as a person.”
Why She Refuses To Amputate It
Sadly many in Mahagony’s community think that her condition is a quick fix and that she would look a lot better if she got rid of her swollen leg. One person asked her once, “Why don’t you amputate your leg, ‘it will look better.”
Mogagony ignores those who think it’s their place to judge her and tell her what to do with her own body. She believes that amputating her leg would be like giving up to the narrative there is only one standard of beauty. However, that would exclude anyone who appears to be “different.”
She explains: “I want to inspire other people to celebrate their differences. I now believe I am beautiful on the inside and out. I’m proud of what my body can do.”
Using Her Disability To Be A Model
Because of the visible condition, Mahogany often finds herself at the center of attention anyway. So she figured she should use the spotlight to shed light on her condition rather than hide away from it out of shame for something she shouldn’t feel ashamed of. She is now an aspiring model who is able to ignore the haters and show off her disability to empower herself as well as other young women who look “different.”
Mahogany has already come a long way from the young, insecure girl she once was. ‘My mom was so worried when I was diagnosed, but we have got through everything together. As a child, I never felt pretty, I used to think God had cursed me. I felt ugly, like a freak of nature, and cried in private so many times.”
With support and the right mentality, she has been able to shift that perspective: “then I decided that I was given this condition because I am emotionally strong and I can handle it. Since then, I have been learning to accept and celebrate myself.”
A Total Weight Of 300 Pounds
At its largest, Mahogany’s leg added 100lb to her weight, giving her a 300lb total body weight. That is a lot of weight for anyone to carry around, especially because it’s not distributed evenly. It hinders her mobility and makes it hard to get through everyday tasks. Yet, Mahogany manages her condition daily with massage, compression dressings, and physiotherapy.
She also drinks lots of water to flush out her system and has to avoid salty foods and alcohol. Still then, sometimes she can suffer from flare-ups of cellulitis, a painful skin infection caused by the swelling. The young woman is often hospitalized for treatment with antibiotics
Mahogany admits: ‘It does get frustrating dealing with flare-ups because I just want to live my life more freely, and it feels like I can’t.
Despite the hard days, Mahogony wants to make the best out of her situation and use it as a source of inspiration both for those who are also “different” or simply have a hard time accepting themselves. “It means I can try my best to inspire other people to accept themselves and see how beautiful they are.” she explains.
We’re our own worst critics as it is, but this is only made worst when outside voices further feed into our insecurities, saying that we have to look a certain way to be desired. Mahogany said that she “had no choice” but to overcome this insecurity.
Finding A “Normal Life” Despite Hardships
Like anyone else, Mahogany has good and bad days. She makes herself vulnerable and shares her journey with her 20 thousand Instagram followers. However, understanding that social media can itself be the source of insecurities some days when she feels low, she likes to take a break from it and focus on other things that make her happy:
“When I feel low, I take steps now to build myself up. I take a break from social media, I listen to music, meditate and definitely talk to my mother because she’s like my therapist.’
Mahogany added: ‘Despite the hard times, I honestly feel like I live a normal life. I try to be strong and stay focused on my dreams of making it as a model.”
The Power of Hope
Mahagony is only 23 years old and has a long journey ahead of her, full of more good days as well as hard ones. However, she is full of hope for how much more she can accomplish. She is proud of how far she has come despite her condition and how she has used it as her trademark to inspire others. She hopes that she can use her social media platform to keep on making a difference and becoming a successful model.
‘If I ever make it big, I want to buy my mother a house and take care of my family; then I’ll do everything I can to raise awareness of lymphedema to pay it back to everyone who has ever shown me kindness.”
Making The Best Out Of It
Mahogony has risen to fame since first documenting her condition. It all started when a photographer asked her to do a shoot with him. He approached her while working at Walmart, and she decided to try it out. “I was like, ‘I’m getting older now, maybe it’s time I start putting my full body out there,’ and hopefully me doing that can help somebody else,” recalled Mahogany.
This became a turning point for her. From that point forward, she started to do shoots that celebrate her uniqueness. “Mainly, I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses, and the ones I like the most are that it helps people that also feel low about themselves.”
While some continue to criticize her, others support her: “People have been so nice and supportive of me online. It isn’t all trolling and negativity. I have met so many people online who keep me company on this health journey I am on.”
Finding Purpose Even In Darkness
Mahagony’s story is inspirational as it shows how much power we all have in finding our potential and living it to the fullest despite our circumstances. We may have no control over who we are born to, and where, and what cards are dealt to us along the way. However, we have full control over how we respond, what choices we make, and how we want to live our lives
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Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.
Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]