The Portrait of Dreams

Anna Maisetti

Lymphedema transformed my life in unexpected ways, teaching me to utilise style and fashion for a much greater purpose than I dreamed of as a child.

1. Bio

Activist, influencer and model. At the age of just 22, her life took an unexpected turn: she discovered she had skin cancer, had no choice but to undergo surgery and found herself living with secondary lymphedema, a chronic and disabling illness that forces her to wear a compression stocking on her right leg indefinitely. After overcoming a long, dark period, she decided to stop hiding and created the Instagram account @stile_compresso in 2018. Her goal was to raise awareness of this medical condition and take back the spotlight in a constructive way. In no time at all, @stile_compresso became a point of reference, discussion and exchange for thousands of people. Today, it is the most active international community on the topic of secondary lymphedema.

2. The power of a dream

As a little girl, I dreamed of being part of the fashion industry and at 22 – when a late diagnosis turned my life upside down – I was taking my first tentative steps as a model. I was then saddled with a body I no longer knew how to live with, leading to both shame and depression. My leg forever compressed in bandages and the constant feeling of being ‘defective’. Yet, that passion for fashion never really left me and, in the end, it found its way. I realised that I could turn those ‘old lady stockings’ into my signature style, the distinctive feature not of a flaw, but of what makes me unique. This is the power of a dream; in the end, it helps you get back on your feet, even when you don’t realise it, until you find your way again.

3. My journey into real beauty

It may sound like a cliché, but it is so true for every little part of me: I have discovered that true beauty lies in the strength to embrace one’s uniqueness and express it with courage. It is not a stereotype, but something that emanates from anyone who manages to colour their life, living it with pride, precisely in the condition they are in. Understanding this took me to another dimension, which is why I created @stile_compresso, with the aim of finding people with the same condition as me, so as to share our evolution, experiences and transformations, inspiring and letting myself be inspired. This transformed my life in unexpected ways, leading me to work as an influencer and model with a much greater purpose than I imagined as a child.

4. What I learned and won’t let go

In the past, I saw women as dependent, today I know that we are capable of getting what we want from ourselves. I have fought to be believed by those who didn’t understand the pain of this condition or belittled it. I have not given in to the injustices that continue to affect the rights of the sick today. What really makes the difference is joining forces and creating synergies. My dream is for every woman to feel truly powerful, aware that no obstacle or other people’s decisions can stop her from achieving her goals. If the path is not yet paved, we can be the ones to lay the first stone. The extraordinary strength of women lies in their ability to create opportunities and inspire change.

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