Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of our neck could affect our lives so completely? Not just our health, but our physical appearance can dramatically change. And then come the body shamers, the people who are in absolutely no position to shame (“You are not perfect so stop judging,” I want to yell at them) who have the power to devastate our self-esteem…but only if we let them.

Written by Andrea C. Imafidon, LMSW

I Am a Brown Girl FLY Girl From Mattapan. 
My journey to being a Brown Girl From Boston started on January 13, 1983! 
I Am Josie and Willie’s daughter 
I Am Sam and June’s little sister
I Am Charles David Imafidon’s wife
I Am Black Love
I Am A Goal Getter, Around the Way Girl, The Go-Get It Girl and the Sistah-Girl

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

My favorite emcee, Rapsody, stated the perfect quote on her idea of beauty and struggle with her self-image due to being diagnosed with the thyroid autoimmune disease Graves’ Disease.

“I would be at shows rapping and I would get the pictures back and my eyes would just be popping out. And I’m like, ‘Aww I look so ugly.’ My face structure changed a little bit. My face looked a little bit more swollen. I’m having trouble keeping my weight down. I’ve always been used to being 120/125. My metabolism is slow because I have hyperthyroid now. I have to watch what I eat and I have to work out a lot. That’s been a struggle. It affected my self-esteem, appearance wise. When I made my first album, The Idea of Beautiful, that had a little bit to do with it. You have to look at what makes you beautiful.

I don’t talk about it much at all. It took me about 2 or 3 years to really get all the way right with it. I had to have three different injections of radio active iodine.”

~Rapsody, Why Is Rapsody Still ‘Hard to Choose’? Ebony Magazine

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

My struggle with my health and idea of beautiful started 3 years ago. I discovered something was out of alignment. My weight kept fluctuating, my spirit was broken, my emotions were unstable and I masked my insecurities. I went from a healthy and active lifestyle to a deliberating, unstable and shattered confidence. I was broken. I couldn’t fit my clothes. I couldn’t get out of bed most days. I couldn’t remember anything. I cried. I cried. and I cried some more. Physician after physician dismissed my claim of weight gain, migraines, bloating, inflammation, skin issues, digestion issues and the list continues. I just refused to silence my voice.

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

I remember crying over pettiness. I cried over not wanting to go out in public. I cried over not fitting into my bridesmaid’s dress for my brother’s wedding and having to go up a size. I cried hysterically in my therapist office the entire session about my health, self-image, and incompetent/pseudo God-Like Complex of endless physicians as I was being labeled “crazy” and “lazy” due to my unexplained weight gain. Women of color receive inequality treatment from physicians on top of it. The entire hour that I’ve cried my therapist held that sacred, safe, and non-judgmental space for me while helping me dig deeper to break free from the labels and invisible chains.

And I still found myself crying!

I Have Hypothyroidism

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally.Hypothyroidism affects your entire body, your mood, and emotions. Some days, I have unlimited of energy which is amazing because I can workout, cook unlimited meals, blog, and indulge in things I truly love. Some days I can’t move. I am extra hard on myself, a hot ass mess, and want to be left alone. Those days suck the life out of me and I have to be extra mindful and present on those days. Usually, I am gentle with myself. I do nothing but rest, read, cry, meditate, pray, and enjoy loving on myself and the love that my husband gives me. I love how to hold the space for me to just have an unlimited ugly cry. I usually limit my conversations with people unless it is my mom who will call the CIA, FBI, and fly up here to love on myself and be the Mama Bear that she is despite me being 32 years young.

Throughout my 32 earth years, I can’t recall struggling with my idea of beauty because I have always thought that I live by my own standard of beauty. I’ve created my own style of fashion, felt comfortable in my skin, and felt that I was unfu%^able! Since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I have struggled with looking in the mirror from time to time because I have insecurities with the puffiness of my face due to fluid retention and inflammation. I have struggles with my stomach which I camouflage because I went from abs to semi flab (no heat, no judgment). I struggle with the dark spots and acne on my face and body because I feel people notice them prior to noticing me. Lastly, I struggle with joint flare-ups and inflammation. There are some days that I can run/walk miles, dance, practice yoga, and weight lift. Then there are the days I am sitting in my robe all weekend because I feel like an 18 wheeler truck committed a hit and run on my body.

Refining The Inner Goddess

In life, everything is temporary. I limit my television watching and participation on social media because that protects me from body shaming myself. Television and social media are damaging to anyone’s confidence, self-image, and self-esteem. Whether we are conscious or unconscious, we compare our entire existence, our looks, standard of beauty, and standard of living to these “socialites” and social media celebrities who front a lot to keep up this pseudo happy lifestyle. We abuse ourselves by altering our entire existence trying to look like someone else who may have surgical enhancements or photoshopped their looks or manually enhanced their looks via phone filters.

There are many women who are voluntarily destroying their bodies due to lack of self-esteem, self-image, and support from those who admire their natural beauty. Recently, Sistah woman, Iyanla Vanzant featured a beautiful Sistah on her show who was a model that received illegally and bootleg butt injections because she didn’t know how to value her feminine energy due to being born without a uterus and her inability to produce children. She is now struggling with silicone toxicity which causes inflammation in her legs, butt, and lower extremities. Imagine if she was surrounded by a healthy and loving support system that cultivated and validated her femininity and womanhood?

I woke the hell up when I viewed that episode because I was measuring my outer beauty versus taking a look within and recognizing my inner goddess beauty. We have so many broken beauties that are suffering in silence due to not valuing and cultivating our self-esteem and confidence within. Yes, we can enhance our outer beauty with makeup and outer adornments, but how is your heart? How is your mind, sis? How is your inner goddess being fed? You can mask your brokenness temporarily. If you have a broken spirit, you are holistically broken no matter what weave, designer label, or makeup brand you are rocking.

Body Shaming From Family

I’ve been battling body shaming from some of my family. From cutting my hair, for being too thin, too athletic, too bossy, too this and too that. Body shaming is such a taboo subject in the African, West Indians/Caribbean, African Diaspora, and African-American culture. Body shaming is such a toxic, soul breaking, and unhealthy behavior. People who body shame are in no position to shame anyone because they are imperfect as well. People who body shame have a lot of internal suffering and insecurities as well.

I have created healthy boundaries to protect my body, my holistic FLYness, and my spirit. They hurt my soul when they harshly judge my weight gain. I am slowly forgiving them, but it is a work in progress. I refuse to internalize ugliness, tasteless, and uncensored comments. I have to keep my stress level to a minimal and understand that I don’t have to tolerate body shaming and disrespect from anyone including family members and friends.

Loving On Myself

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

I am relearning how to love myself. I am focusing on my journey to healing and health. I have a new found appreciation for my life and how meaningful it is. I strive to live a spiritual and full life. I understand and accept that I am flawed and imperfect. When you can achieve a level of self-acceptance for yourself, you are able to cope with your struggles in life. Self-acceptance is vital to growth and development because you have to accept YOU even when people don’t accept YOU!

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

I have decided to share my photo from a recent photoshoot that I did with the lovely Kimberly Dobosz Photography. Looking at my photos, I am proud of myself for proceeding with the photo shoot. I love the ambiance, tranquility, and lively feel that my photos provide. I have nitpicked my photos, but truly embraced my current state of outer and inner beauty. I am learning how to live with my current idea of beautiful.

Body Shaming & Thyroid Disease: The Idea of Beautiful

Before, you laugh and judge someone on their outer and inner struggle, please check yourself before you wreck yourself. You are not perfect, neither and work on your internal struggle!

Make sure you shine on and be a light to the world.

About Andrea C. Imafidon, LMSW

Andrea Imafidon earned an M.S. in social work from The University of Southern Mississippi and a B.S. in social work from Tuskegee University. She is a certified Personal and Professional Development Coach and image and brand consultant, who helps individuals, organizations, and small businesses become their best version of themselves online and offline through brand awareness, starting and owning start-ups and managing and organizing events. She appeared on TLC’s Bling It On with Sondra Celli. Andrea is a 2016 RISBJ Women to Watch Entrepreneurial Women to Watch nominee. She served as a Social Media Roundtable Expert at the 2016 Massachusetts Conference for Women. She is the digital storyteller and content creator at Brown Girl From Boston [dot] com.

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. This is my story too, diagnosed with Graves Disease at 23 and had radioactive iodine. Now 30 years later and 40 pounds added and no doctor listening. Every symptom you described I have had for 30 years. No diet works, I could eat 1000 calories and still gain weight even with exercise.

  2. This lady is me, in every sentence . every experience she speaks of I see and hear myself anf my struggles dealing with Hashimoto’s I hope eventually we can all get some freedom from these thyroid issues. I hope someone will finally take us serious and delve more into what to do to help us.

    • Hi Bella, I think she nails it on the head how it feels to struggle with body shamers while your body is struggling with thyroid disease. Good to have you at Hypothyroid Mom.

  3. 100 percent yes! I need you to be my best friend 😄 the body shaming from family is the hardest.

  4. Mary Fitzpatrick says

    Keep moving don’t you ever let negative people cause you to fell down. I recently found out I too have a thyroid problem (don’t know if it’s hypo or hyper. I take a small pill each morning. My doctor didn’t tell me which one I had.
    You look great!! Love on you each day and thank God for life.

  5. Toni Adkins says

    Omg 🤷🏻‍♀️Reading your story makes me feel so inspired. I grew up being skinny and underweight which never made me feel comfortable. Others thought I had it made. Everyone wants to be skinny right? By age 25, I felt great and reached the perfect weight. But, by 30 my metabolism slowed down and my doctor diagnosed me with thyroid disease. 2016 I started working out and eating better. But last year was hard ( loved ones that passed away etc and starting a new role at work the same time. Too many changes). I felt excited and nostalgic about turning 40 until a friend’s jokes and my noticeable changes in appearance have me second guessing myself. You are so right about the highs and lows. Sometimes, you feel like a 🚀 rocket with lots of energy. Other times, you just want to sleep. The mood swings combined with my a.d.d ( not kidding it’s not just a saying) makes for some hard Days. I get frustrated when people like to label you lazy. You have to put forth a lot of energy for daily tasks. It’s nice to know someone feels the same way. Thank you for sharing 🙏

  6. I can so relate to all of this in 2004 I moved quickly from a size 7 to 12. my doctor started getting upset with me..” need to exercise and watch what you eat!”. I used to cry and get very upset. the Doctor decide to check my thyroid functions,,,they all came back normal..Well it is definitely not your thyroid he said and i continued to gain weight. changed doctors and this one again did the thyroid function which, again came back negative…A friend who had accompanied me..said “Doc…she eats less than a bird, she is vegetarian,,… we walk for an hour 4 times weekly.. she plays netball for a club”…when he heard that he decided to do a thyroid scan that showed about 7 nodules on the right side..he immediately placed me on 100mc eltroxin,,I asked him that since my blood tests are saying the hormones are in the normal range…..should i be placed on that strength……He asked if it was I who went to Med school..
    So I took them and in about 21 days I lost 17 lbs and then I started feeling nervous and had palpitations constantly, after a couple days of this I came off the eltroxin and felt better…after a while started gaining the weight again. Go to the doc year after year…blood tests still showing normal and thyroid started getting visible larger. stopped going to the Dr.
    In 2017 I decided to see this Endocrinologist who came highly recommended. He again, like all the others…ordered the regular blood Tests, I said, Is there another test you can do? I did a blood test 5 months ago and it tested negative for thyroid issues…so he had me do a thyroid scan with a possible biopsy in addition to the blood works. I said to him: Have you ever heard of Hashimoto? He said yes, but it is rare. I said do you think you should check? He said, yes but it is not available in Jamaica. I said well if I have to go whereever I’ll go. Then he said one of the labs have a courier service. I then asked him to requisition the hashimoto tests as well. The test results were sent to Miami and they came back in 2 months, confirming hashimoto. By this time I gagged and coughed if I held my arms above my head to remove clothing and had problems swallowing. The Endocrinologist, when I asked the way forward, said, “we well just have to do the scan and blood tests once a year and see if there are any changes.” I happened to go to a cardiologist because, there were times when my blood pressure dropped suddenly. He noticed the swelling in my neck and asked about it…I told him about the hashimoto and every thing i had gone t.
    through. I asked him what he would recommend after showin copies of the reports which i had in my possession. He said since it is growing and I am having problems with gagging and discomfort swallowing he would recommen a thyroidectomy. Had surgery on the 15th February….my calciums dropped dangerously low… so I am on mega doses of calcium,,,did blood tests Monday before last which showed and improvement..I am borderline normal. Did another on the 6th March,,waiting for him to compare and see if it is at a reasonable level so i can reduce the calcium supplements even by half…I am down from 8 tabs 5 times daily to 6 five times a day. I had been put on 100 mcg eltroxin, I am steadily gaining weight. I am freaking out….. Help!!!

  7. I think you are a lovely lady with an awesome sense of her own style! I know how painful it is when friends, family members and co-workers make comments on how much weight I’ve gained. I was always the skinny girl growing up and well into my thirties, but when I hit 40 and the Hashimotos really kicked in, that changed in a big way. I’m about 80 lbs heavier than I always used to be, and people are not nice about it. People I’ve known for years treat me differently, and it makes me wonder if it was always just my looks they responded to, rather than actually me. Makes me very, very sad.

  8. You’re a beautiful lady don’t let anyone tell you any different! Reading your story makes me believe I can deal with this thyroid stuff and not let it take over my entire life.

  9. Polly Vance says

    I think that you are beautiful. The most destructive mind (mine) field is to compare and contrast. We are horrified that an internal physical happening can cause adverse effects to happen on our outside and external bodies.
    I feel that you are rejoicing in your mental strength to overcome. Like a child just learning to walk…you are finding your comfortable ground.
    I would encourage you to never, NEVER give up on personal growth and don’t give in to the thinking that Thyroid disease has you captive. There are answers and solutions, even to the external. I am living proof. We focus not on shaming, but on the shedding of all that anchors us from moving forward, mind, soul, and body.

    • Ellen Bean says

      I was diagnosed with Graves Disease when I was 37 years old–I was skinny, couldn’t sleep, racing heart and big eyes. Because I was getting married and wanted to have children right away, I opted for surgery. A friend’s mom has a history of thyroid problems and asked him (about me), “Is she overweight?”, to which he replied, “No”. She said, “Well, she will be soon”. I decided then and there to defy her prediction.

      I subsequently was given Synthroid for life, had two children, and vowed to do everything in my power to look and feel wonderful. I have had no problems at all, but it takes discipline to eat right and not in between meals and exercise every day. In spite of having no thyroid for many years, going through menopause, I am 61 years old, 5’6″ tall and weigh 122 pounds. BUT this is because I manage my life every single day and make sure I do what it takes to stay super healthy. My cholesterol and blood pressure are excellent.

      I am so glad my friend’s mom threw down the gloom and doom gauntlet, making me mad enough to say, “I’ll show you”. I challenge everyone to work hard to be the very best you can be–the healthiest version of you–whatever that looks like. (and it’s different for everyone). It can be done!

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