A woman with a condition that causes fat build-up in the legs was taunted by bullies who branded her a ‘melted yoghurt’.
Mum-of-three Jennifer Williams from Los Angeles has lipedema – a disorder that causes the legs to become enlarged due to deposits of fat beneath the skin.
The 44-year-old medical professional has had the condition from the age of 10.
But in 2017, she decided to embrace her body and start an Instagram account with the purpose of spreading knowledge and connecting with others with lipedema.
She said social media has boosted her self confidence and she is finally happy with the way she looks.
For years, Jennifer had never heard of lipedema and constantly questioned why she looked the way she does.
She discovered the condition through a conference held by the Fat Disorders Research Society. It was after this she was finally diagnosed with lipedema, after decades of no answers.
She had thought she was just ‘obese’ which doctors reiterated to her, despite the fact that she had lost 150 pounds.
Now, Jennifer proudly shows off her body and says she isn’t promoting obesity, just ‘self-love and self-acceptance’.
‘Finally, there’s other people like me, I’m not just a freak by myself with my legs huge and every part of my body smaller,’ she said.
‘Some doctors will say “you’re just fat, lose weight”. But what they don’t realize is I have lost weight. I have lost 150 pounds since 2016 and I still have large thighs.
‘They think it’s cellulite but it’s not, it’s the lipedema fat. And the lipedema fat is not able to be burned by diet and exercise. It’s not going anywhere.’
Getting a diagnosis and turning her life around was a long time coming for Jennifer, who was bullied as a child and developed severe depression as an adult.
‘It was extremely difficult as a child,’ she said. ‘Not fitting in, going to pool parties and not being able to put on a bathing suit.
‘I always wore a shirt or I would go in the water and have someone bring me a towel before I got out of the water so nobody had to see my legs or my body. It was a nightmare.’
Even in adulthood, Jennifer suffered as the condition had an effect on her marriage. She eventually became a single mother and had to take care of her three children.
In 2016, she decided to get healthier.
‘I think I was just tired of being unhappy,’ Jennifer said. ‘I was tired of being depressed. I wanted to be how I was before I had kids and just have a drive for life because I was tired of just wanting to die.’
Jennifer credits social media for introducing her to others with similar body shapes and helping her turn her life around.
She now regularly models in bikinis and underwear and has become friends with women who also suffer from lipedema, asking some of them to join her for a photoshoot.
‘I am the happiest now than I ever have been in my life,’ she continued. ‘I think a lot of self-acceptance and learning about it has helped me embrace it.
‘You can be beautiful at all sizes, no matter what your shape is. There are so many people trying to shame me saying I look like melted yogurt, I’m ugly, I shouldn’t be promoting obesity.
‘I don’t think I’m promoting obesity. I’m just promoting self-love and self-acceptance.’
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