”I kind of felt alone because I didn’t know anyone else who had it,” she said. “I didn’t know how to deal with it. I kind of just shut out the world.”
Dr. Beverly Ahoni, a pediatrician at Logansport Memorial Hospital, said because teens often feel self-conscious as it is, a disorder like scoliosis can often intensify these feelings and that support groups would likely aid in overcoming it.
“Whether it’s pain or the way you look, I think it’s always comforting to have someone else to kind of bond with,” Ahoni said. “In their teen years, I think they always feel more self-conscious than usual, so to know other teens are going through it I think is helpful.”
Last September an Internet search led Looker to Curvy Girls — a support group with chapters all over the country for teen girls with scoliosis started by Leah Stoltz of Long Island, N.Y., in 2006 when she was 13.
”That’s when I knew I wasn’t alone and there were other girls going through the same thing,” Looker said, adding she regularly posts words of encouragement on the organization’s website’s message boards.
Looker went on to say she essentially started her own Indiana chapter the night she found Curvy Girls, after discovering the ones closest to her in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky would still be too far for her to attend on a regular basis.
”No matter where we live, we all feel the same way — alone in our struggle with scoliosis,” wrote Stoltz in an email. “But with Curvy Leaders like Madi, teens with scoliosis have someone they can talk to who understands. Madi is making a difference one girl at a time.”
Looker attended an event that raises money for scoliosis called Color the Curve 5K in Chatanooga, Tenn., earlier this month, where she met leaders of Curvy Girls chapters in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, increasing the support she began finding on the organization’s website.