The last thing you would imagine when looking at style blogger Beverly Beal is that she is battling a debilitating disease.
Looks can be pretty deceiving and social media often serves as a filter between what people want you to see, and who they really are. At first glance, when scrolling through Beverly's perfectly coiffed images on Instagram, you see her impeccable style and her confidently unbothered facial expressions - not a hair out of place. You might think for a moment that she doesn't have a care in the world. But like everyone else on social media, there's more to her story than meets the eye.
Far from one-dimensional, Beverly is a fashion influencer, a lawyer, a business owner, and dog-mom to a Shi Tzu named Biggie. But, recently, she very publicly added another line to her bio - as a person living with Crohn's disease. After two years of posting pristine, aesthetically pleasing street style images on her Instagram page and website, Beverly decided to use her well-established platform of 28k followers to announce that she was living with a chronic inflammatory disease:
"I've been going back and forth for so long deciding whether I️ should tell my story and open up about my health. Then I️ came to the decision that as an influencer I️ want to make as much of an impact as I️ can. I️ know social media is a place where people mainly want to share their highs, but I'm here to say I'm not ashamed of my lows."
Crohn's disease is a condition that typically afflicts elderly people, but Beverly was only 27 at the time of her diagnosis. She just graduated from law school and had the world at her feet when she received the news.
For many, Crohn's disease comes with an array of symptoms, treatments, and procedures that can affect - at the very least - lifestyle. Something as simple as sleeping comfortably or dating and having sex can seem out of reach for people with Crohn's. But, perspective took Beverly to a place of acceptance after struggling with the hand she was being dealt. "The first three years of being diagnosed, I was on and off steroids. So it was up and down with my weight," she told xoNecole. "It was no easy process and still isn't. But if I'm here and healthy enough to tell my story then the changes in my body are minuscule compared to that."
"The side effects of steroids are terrible and long-term use effects can be even worse." Beverly admits, "It makes you gain a lot of weight. At one time, I gained around fifteen pounds. It was very difficult for me, being a 'Skinny Minnie' my entire life and out of nowhere - weight gain."
The change in physique forced Beverly to find the silver lining in the ups and downs of Crohn's disease. Her priorities began to shift not around how hot her look was, but how strong her body felt. "I used to want a flatter stomach, I wanted a smaller waist, bigger butt - you know all the things we see on social media. But not one of those things matter to me anymore. My thoughts on body image honestly went out the window."
"I could care less what my body image is as long as I am healthy."
Instead of wallowing in her body's changes, Beverly decided to get back to basics. Her priority now was finding a balance that kept her stress down. She changed her diet and stayed busy with activities that stimulated her mind, body, and soul.
Then, she decided to share her story with her community. "I really didn't know what to expect," Beverly said, "but the timing felt right so I went for it."
For Beverly, this was a chance to share her wellness journey with other people and create a dialogue about healing, which also included being aware of the energy she allowed in her life. She told her blog followers:
"My goal for this post was to show another side to what life is like in my heels. When I was first diagnosed I went to extreme measures trying to heal myself. I thought I needed to remove all dairy or go gluten free, I even tried to become a vegan. I was working out non-stop thinking that it was my body that wasn't in order when it wasn't that at all. It was stressful and a negative lifestyle that I was living . No food, workout, etc could solve the bad energy I had in my life and it needed to removed. People really don't realize how much impact the energy you have around you, affects your life. Although there is no definite known trigger for crohns, studies have shown that stress is the main culprit for a reaction. At that moment, I decided to become extremely selfish, and not in a bad way. But selfish because I decided to take as long as I needed to get myself right."
Despite keeping her condition to herself for so long, she's been amazed to see that talking about Crohn's has opened up an important conversation. She said, "The response has been amazing. My social media family has been so supportive and really appreciated me for being so open."
Social media certainly puts up a pretty face. You'll see flawless beauties by the hundreds, flaunting their best external features. But, as much as Beverly has an appreciation of the aesthetic, she thinks social media needs to take a shift in tone. She made her stance known in her blog post:
"Changing your mind set can actually work wonders on your body. I know that society puts so much pressure on body image. But that is completely wrong to me, the pressure should be on being healthy. "
Beverly is still blogging about style and serving looks on Instagram, but this time she's determined to continue including people in her journey with Crohn's. "I want to continue promoting positivity and wellness," she explains, "I will continue to tell my story and how changing my mentality help me achieve an overall healthier lifestyle."
Hindsight, they say is 20/20. We all wish we could pull our former selves aside and give them the wake up call we didn't know we needed back then. When asked what she would tell her former self, before her diagnosis of Crohn's disease, Beverly simply said:
[Tweet "Slow down. Keep your faith and keep that fire. Everything you're working for is going to happen."]