Learning to love yourself

By Joanna Tovia

Learning to love yourself
Read expectant mother Rowena Poitras' self-esteem story.

When beauty ideals are unattainable and accepted definitions of success all but impossible to achieve, it’s becoming harder than ever to like ourselves just the way we are. But striving for a positive body image and healthy self-esteem is important for more than just a happier life – it could also ward off more serious mental health issues ahead.

MiNDFOOD sat down with some incredible men and women for this month’s Self-Empowerment issue, here is Rowena’s story.

Rowena Poitras, 31

I was born three months premature so I have a mild case of cerebral palsy. I couldn’t walk until I was three but the reason I learnt to walk was because my mum really pushed me to. My condition formed such a huge part of my identity growing up. It took me a long time to shed that. It affects mainly my legs; I walk unaided but my feet turn in when I walk and I get very tired. It was a lot more noticeable as a child and I would always fall over; my legs were in casts for six weeks at a time. Children can be inherently cruel so I used to go home and cry a lot. My parents were really good, though, and wouldn’t put up with bullying. They told me to stand up for myself, that I was no different to anyone else. My dad drilled into me from a very young age never to let anyone shame me. I’ve carried with me what he and my mum said to me. My family makes jokes about that now because I’m known as the fiery, strong one; it has stood me in good stead. I was quite depressed after I had my daughter (now 3). I loved being pregnant, but I didn’t like my body afterwards; I felt some sort of awkward shame about it. People are obsessed with women losing the baby weight. In my family, the women who have babies store a lot of fat on their bodies. It wasn’t until about three months ago that I made peace with that. I’m pregnant again and this time I hope I won’t be so harsh on myself and to recognise that each woman when they have a child is different.

Rowena Poitras is a mother of one with another on the way

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