Lupus, Self-esteem and Butterfly Warriors

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by Kellie McRae |

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self-esteem and lupus

hurricane-kellieLupus primarily targets women, as does the media. We are often inundated with photographs of young, thin, flawlessly airbrushed women who are the picture of what perfection is supposed to be. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of — and enough to give us low self-esteem. Many of us know that those “perfect” women are an illusion, but that doesn’t stop us from buying the latest skin cream, weight loss product, or serum for full and flowing hair.

Butterfly rash

Sounds kind of pretty when you toss the word butterfly in front of it, but it’s not cute. It’s red, it’s itchy, it takes over your face and can show up in other not-so-fun places. You can’t control it and you can’t rush it away with the latest creams. It’s what lupus does. The butterfly rash (so-called because of its shape) may cause others to stare, and for those suffering with it to want to shy away from going out in public. You will meet that person who used to have acne tell you that they used this product or that, but when you have lupus, what works for other skin problems most certainly will not work for you. So until it subsides or you see your doctor, you, my friend, are truly a butterfly warrior.

Weight gain

Powerpuff Girl has an entirely new meaning for those who get that lovely puffy look when steroid treatments make you resemble a chipmunk hoarding nuts. Again, there is nothing you can do about this weight gain because the medications are working to keep your immune system in check. So, you get to be the woman in the restaurant who people think really shouldn’t be eating that. They have no idea that your girth is truly not in your control.

Weight loss

“That chick needs a cheeseburger,” is my category. The media says you should be skinny, but you shouldn’t be so thin that a fall-alert surrounds you because your legs look too tiny to support your waif-like body. That’s when stares beg to answer: “Why is she so skinny?” and “Is she on drugs?” This too is out of your control. It’s an ironic symptom of your immune system on hyper drive.

Hair loss

Oh, you thought this beautiful flowing mane of hair grew out of my scalp? Why, you flatterer, you! Many people do not realize that hair loss is also a symptom of lupus. So, many patients get creative. There are some queens among us who can boldly go bald, but many others find creative ways to hide hair loss. Then, of course, there are wig options. While we can’t pick skinny, fat, or butterfly rash, today we can be blonde and tomorrow we can be a redhead. We have to take the wins where we can get them. If we’re going to lose our hair, well, what a great time to sport a purple bob!


I make light because I want you to smile. We are all flawed. It doesn’t matter if we are battling lupus or television commercials. Give yourself a break — you are literally fighting for your life. It’s tough out here for a woman who has a skin rash, too much butt, or not quite enough butt. Feeling undesirable for one reason or another is quite stressful. You are not alone with those feelings.

It would be wonderful if we all looked the way we wanted — with perfect skin and perfect weight — so all of our clothes fit perfect and we looked like the supermodel of the world. But let’s get real. You are already beautiful and you just need to see it. I just need to see it.

We are who we are —  tough people. After all, we get up most days to fight a war that many only see on the outside as not good enough. It is difficult to bear some days. But let’s all lift one another up with the knowledge that it’s what’s inside us that truly matters. You look good to me 🙂

Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.