Bullies called me a 'fat b***h' but Love Island helped me figure out why my legs were so big | The Sun

AMY Collins, 27, is a youth worker and lives in Dublin with her parents Emer, 62, Kieran, 65, and sisters Lynn, 25, and Chloe, 20. 

Here, she opens up on her experience before and after being diagnosed with a condition called lipoedema, which caused her to be bullied in her youth.

Watching Shaughna Phillips on Love Island in January 2020, I couldn’t stop staring at her legs.

Just like mine, they looked disproportionate to the rest of her body.

A few weeks later, I read a social media post about the reality star, and it was like a lightbulb flicking on in my mind.

She’d been diagnosed with a condition called lipoedema, characterised by an abnormal accumulation of fat in the legs.


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Its cause isn’t known but, as it can run in families, it may be genetic. 

I began to wonder if I had the same condition.

I’d first noticed my legs were bigger than everyone else’s in 2007 when I was 11.

I struggled to pull my school socks up over my calves, but my mum told me: ‘This is your natural shape, not everyone is the same.’

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As I got older, my chunky legs kept growing at a different rate from the rest of my body.

By the time I was 15, I was a size 12 and weighed 11st.

At 5ft 2in, I was a normal shape and size everywhere but my legs.

I avoided communal changing rooms and was teased at school — bullies called me a ‘fat bitch’, which made me feel humiliated.

I saw my GP numerous times, but he just said I needed to eat less and move more. 

My self-confidence was at rock-bottom.

I couldn’t even contemplate a relationship because I believed nobody would be interested in me.

I rarely went out socially, as I felt self-conscious and my wardrobe was full of black clothes, which I believed were slimming. 

I began to self-harm, cutting my legs. Nobody knew what I’d done, but my family could see how unhappy I was.

My mum took me to the GP, who prescribed antidepressants.

They didn’t help how I felt about my legs, though, which was the cause of my low mood.

By January 2020, when I was 24, I’d given up hope of ever discovering why my legs were the way they were. It was only after learning of Shaughna’s diagnosis that things changed.

I researched the condition, then saw a different GP.

He agreed with my self-diagnosis, but told me that although surgery to drain the fat from my legs was available in Ireland, it would cost more than £17,000, which I couldn’t afford.

I began researching surgery abroad and found the Lipemedical clinic in Spain.


Lipoedema UK’s Big Survey in 2014 revealed that only 5% of doctors were aware of lipoedema.

Lipoedema can often be misdiagnosedas obesity or lymphoedema (swelling of body tissues).

In March 2022, after a Zoom consultation with a Spanish doctor, who said I was a ‘textbook case’ of stage two lipoedema, I was accepted for surgery. 

That October, I flew to Madrid with my mum and sister Lynn, and had 5.3L of fat removed from my calves using a form of liposuction.

The surgery cost £4,770, which Mum gave me from her savings.

She was so supportive and knew how important it was to me.

Waking up after the two-hour operation, my legs were bandaged but immediately didn’t feel as heavy as before, and I could take small steps.

The first time I saw my legs properly was two days later — they looked so much slimmer and felt lighter. I was thrilled.

I returned to Madrid three months later for a second surgery, costing a further £6,845, which I’d saved for myself.

I had a further 6.6L of fat removed from the fronts and sides of my thighs. 

Lipoedema can’t be cured and is likely to return in the future but, for now, the surgery has reset my condition back to the early stages.

Six months on, my life has changed dramatically.

I’ve bought a whole new wardrobe – I no longer dress all in black and am a lot happier.

Even my partner, who I’ve been with since February 2020, can see a difference.

This summer, I’ll be getting my legs out with pride.

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If it wasn’t for seeing Shaughna Phillips on Love Island, I may never have known what was wrong with me.” 

Follow Amy’s journey on Instagram @Mybiglegsandme.

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