LISA COX - My story.
In 2005, I was a University graduate with my dream job in an advertising agency. I was also a part-time fashion model. Then, just months before my 25th birthday, I died, twice.
A severe Streptococcus-A bacteria caused a brain hemorrhage and a series of other life threatening complications. I went into a coma and was put on life support for two months. My family knew it was bad when the head of the largest Intensive Care Unit in the southern hemisphere said I was “By far the sickest person there”. Shortly after, my parents were told they may have to turn off my life support.
Today, at age 28 (photographed above), I’ve undergone over a dozen operations, including heart surgery, a total hip replacement and the amputation of nine fingertips, all my toes and one leg. Yet despite all the ‘missing pieces’, life now feels more complete than ever before.
So why am I telling you this? Well, it’s certainly not for sympathy or pity. I’m hoping that sharing my story and the lessons I’ve learnt might encourage you to find more perspective in your own life. I simply ask that you have gratitude for what you do have and what you can do. Rather than worrying about what you don’t have or can’t do.
I frequently hear women whine about the size or shape of their legs. I think to myself, “you have two legs and you’re walking so what are you complaining about?”
Last year I was asked to speak at a dinner about overcoming challenges and why, after everything that’s happened, I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world. However, I never made it inside the venue and woke up in an ambulance. A seizure diagnosed epilepsy. But weeks later I returned and gave the same speech. Nothing had changed and after yet another stint in hospital, I still felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
The brain hemorrhage also caused irreversible damage to my sight – I’m 25% blind. But the fact that I can see at all makes me extremely grateful. Even if, when I look down, I see scars and ‘missing bits’, I’m so happy that I can see at all! If crows feet or dark circles were the biggest ‘problem’ with my eyes, I’d be very happy.
I frequently hear and see women validating their self-worth by the reflection in the mirror or the dress size in their wardrobe. Even more disturbing is the young age of our image obsessed culture. Recent studies reported that the incidence of Primary school children being diagnosed with eating disorders was increasing at an alarming rate.
The media’s flooded with statistics about poor body image. However, turn the page or change the channel and you’ll see images that only perpetuate the problem for the estimated 90% of women who are unhappy with their body.
‘Blame’ can be laid in many areas but in my experience, education is the best prevention. There is also a large onus on us to be responsible consumers. That’s why I’m currently using my professional background and personal experiences to promote a healthy body image and a positive role model for others, especially for young women. Because, nothing will change unless we do.
Combining a decade of professional experience in the media industry; two university degrees specializing in advertising and media; my work as a model plus my more recent medical challenges, I’ve certainly learnt a thing or two about body image – from both sides of the camera lens.
Ironically, I had my last modeling photo shoot just days before I went into a coma. The glamorous photos are a stark contrast to photos taken shortly after in hospital.
It’s incredibly gratifying and rewarding to be thanked and congratulated for presenting a stronger role model for women than many of the ones we usually see in the media.
My first-hand experiences and unique background give me an added credibility that I find really resonates with my audience. Through my work, I educate others about the realities of the unrealistic messages we are exposed to on a daily basis. Importantly, I remind my audience not to wait for something negative to happen in their life before they choose to develop a positive body image.
I’m on a one-woman mission to create a generation of media savvy youth whose body image and feelings of self-worth are not at the mercy of Advertisers, for example. I’m always looking for more opportunities to share my story and empower young people to navigate their way through the media maze.
Last year I launched my website: www.LisaCoxPresents.com and hope to reach a wider audience base with my story. I have spoken at corporate dinners, Business Seminars and Health Clubs about pursuing goals and overcoming challenges. However, my real passion is speaking with young people about the smoke and mirrors in popular culture and the detrimental effects this has on body image.
There’s an undeniable need for stronger, healthier and more positive role models for young people in the media. So in the famous words of the great Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
To contact Lisa Cox email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.LisaCoxPresents.com
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