At first it seemed an alien had kidnapped my metabolism and there was nothing I could do about it. Whatever I ate showed up the next day – to stay.

I was once that annoying girl who could eat whatever she wanted and not gain a pound. Ugh. I was also at my most timid and insecure. I was a naturally fit, muscular-but-curvy size 2 and thought I was fat. More than that, having Cerebral Palsy, and dragging my left foot, walking with canes in my own unique way, my feet just looked a bit different; and while I always loved my disability, and the things it added to my life, for a long time, I really hated my feet. So, no matter what ridiculous shape I was in, that was all I could see or focus on. My first boyfriend wasn’t even allowed to see my feet. Then, into my 20s, on the wrong medication, my body and emotions were changing so fast I couldn’t keep up.  I went from a sporty size 2, to a squishy size 10 virtually overnight… well, in two and a half months, actually. 

There was a few reasons for the sudden changes:

1) I knew I was about to be fired, so I was stress eating to the max (rice crispy treats and Cheetos mainly).

2) I was also on a form of birth control that had three times more hormone than the pill, three times more likely to kill you, and it was most certainly killing my metabolism. With my hormones in havoc, my body and mind became an unrecognizable war zone!

3) I was in the wrong relationship and thanks to the “patch of evil” birth control, was crying for the first time, almost daily. But my ex was also an incredible cook, so to distract from our troubles, he frequently smothered us both in five people’s worth of comfort food. So while I gained 25, he gained 40. 

Cellulite, of course, also followed.

However, something magical started to happen once I was so far from my idea of perfect bodily…I realized I had to love my body simply because it was mine. Not because it was perfect.

My mom worked with models, my dad was a model once upon a time, so I realize looking back, that I grew up unconsciously with a harmful size zero or zero fat mentality. Any fat was FAT. ?

Once I let go of what my body was supposed to be, I was free to just be. And so as my body continued to change (once off this horrible medication, I dropped 15 pounds in three days, and most recently, just in time for the holidays, I gained 10 pounds and a cute ‘food baby’ belly – after a daily habit of tapioca bubble tea went awry – who knew tapioca balls could be so “dangerous“?!), I made the conscious decision to embrace it. Even at the displeasure and occasionally blunt commentary of some of my perfection-seeking relatives.  This means I must give myself love and grace for wherever my body is now, aim to give it self care and love, especially when I don’t feel like it. 

Question: What’s one thing you can do today to show your body love and care? 

Years ago, I pledged to get pedicures at least once a month to show my feet some love. And with each colorful toe-over, I gradually went from hating and hiding my feet, to being able to say I like and am grateful for them. Progress!

And now, I run workshops on self-esteem because I truly understand insecurities. And that once we are aware of them, we can take actionable steps to tackle each one of them. So how can you work to show your body love? For you, it might not have to be as big as the hour I take for my big and little toes each month – it can be the microsteps that Arianna talks about – it could be taking a vitamin daily. It could be telling your body “thank you” each day, because it’s your one and only. It could be writing little love post-its to those curves….Your call!

Despite all the that I believe and just shared, I’ll admit, there are so times I have ignored my body instead of cuddling, wooing, and cherishing it; as my work has become a true love, as I travel more and I have become more multi-hyphenate, it’s easy to place more importance elsewhere and put busy or “important” in front of your body or sleep, or to put off check ups and check-ins. As I type this, I am making my first dental appointment in three or four years. Not ok! Still, I’m going to give myself grace for that too, because today is another day and all we can do is do our best, or just a little better each day going forward. Because we, and our ever-changing bodies, that carry us through this life, deserve so much better.


  • Xian Horn

    Beauty and Disability Advocate, Teacher, Founder

    Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, who serves as a teacher, speaker, beauty advocate, blogger, and Exemplar for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge toward the creation of Assistive Technology. Xian was named Women's eNews' 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2017 and in Walker's Legacy Power 15 in 2018 and the first-ever Positive Exposure Rising Leader Award in 2021. Give Beauty Wings’ tailored Self-Esteem programs began at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities, and serve as a bridge to promote greater self-love and discovery, purpose, and connection. She aims to reconceptualize disability representation in fashion, beauty, and media and move accessible design forward by working with Anna Sui, Derek Lam, Parsons, Pratt and F.I.T. Xian is invested in contributing positively to our concept of self-esteem and the collective purpose, especially for girls and women. She is the founder of the “Give Beauty Wings” Self-Esteem program (and subsequent non-profit) which originated at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities, the Jewish Community Center Manhattan, and nationally. Xian is an award-winning speaker and contributor at Forbes and Ariana Huffington's Thrive Global and has been featured in The White House Blog's Women Working To Do Good series, the New York Times, NPR, Fast Company, NBC News, Fox 5, and Yahoo Life among others.