How do you define yourselves as women with herpes?

How do you define yourselves as women with herpes?

By Contributing Author Stephanie

Lizzie Velasquez is undoubtedly an incredibly inspiring woman.  She has overcome so much negativity in her lifetime, it is unreal. Some of you may be asking: what do we have in common with her?  Others of you may see the connection instantly. What Lizzie has to teach us, as women with herpes, is how to love ourselves unconditionally not despite our condition but because of our condition.

At the begging of her TED talk, Lizzie talks about the benefits of her condition.  I think we can all learn from her dedication to finding the silver lining.  Despite all the hardships her condition has given her, she chooses to recognize the positive aspects that it has brought to her life.  Being diagnosed with genital herpes can be a devastating and traumatic experience – it certainly was for me – but we will all benefit from highlighting the benefits our diagnoses bring to our lives.

  1. We know that when someone we have had “the talk” with sticks around, that person sees past our physical attributes and cares deeply for our character.
  2. We are more compassionate individuals having gone through a medical diagnosis and experiencing first hand how that can change the way people view themselves.
  3. We likely date differently and really get to know a person before sharing our sexual selves with someone.

These are just a few positive aspects that herpes has brought to my own life, and I am sure many of you share the same experiences, whether you have recognized them yet or not.

As women with herpes, it can be easy to define ourselves based on a virus; but what Lizzie has to teach us is that we are so much more than that!

I encourage you all to think about how you define yourselves.  If you do define yourself based on your herpes diagnosis, think about how that might be negatively affecting your life and your happiness.  Now, I challenge you all to define yourself based on the things that actually matter like the kind of person you are or the kinds of things you do.  Finally, sense how big of a difference that shift of your definition made and imagine how it can continue to positively influence your life.

I hope Lizzie has inspired you all as much as she has inspired me! I hope you all use her beauty as motivation to define yourselves based on that inner beauty that you all possess.  Now, celebrate yourselves!


About Stephanie

Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie.  I was diagnosed with HSV-2 in April of 2014 when I was 22 years old.  Right now, almost three years later, I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Purdue University.  I recently completed my MA in sociology at the University of Northern Colorado where I explored the role of stigma in the process of disclosing a genital herpes diagnosis.  With that said, if anyone is interested in reading what I discovered in my project, I am happy to share that with you! I plan to continue advocating for our community, as well as studying the social factors that influence sexual health in order to understand how we can create a world that is easier for people diagnosed with STIs.  I really enjoy writing for the Pink Tent community and am excited to be able to share some of my experiences and thoughts about living with genital herpes with you all.


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