Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder that affects one’s perception with their self that they become preoccupied or obsessed with a physical imperfection that some studies have shown that BDD is linked someway with OCD. , such as: nose, skin, hair, lips, body size, body weight, body shape, muscle size, body hair and many more. The imperfection becomes more exaggerated in that person’s eyes that it affects their overall mental and physical wellbeing. This is a mental health condition that I have been diagnosed with earlier this year, which I am still battling with, even though I have came a long way. From what I know, BDD does NOT really go away, which is exactly why I am writing this blog. On that note, this blog can be relevant to anyone with any body image struggles or if you know someone struggling.
Please note that I am NOT a mental health professional – The information in this blog is based on MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, conversations with a mental health professional and through online research.
Living with body dysmorphia can be really fucking hard, however, BDD is different with everyone and we’re all at a different level with it. It can happen to anyone regardless of how thin, big their body is or how their skin tone and features look like. I still think it’s important though to share the symptoms in case you want to look into this with your doctor: (Copy pasting these symptoms)
- Frequent examination of appearance in the mirror
- Constantly comparing their appearance with other people
- Seeking dermatological treatment or cosmetic surgery
- Avoiding social events and photos
- Seeking verbal reassurance
- Excessive grooming
- Restricted eating
Personally, I struggle with BDD when it comes to my body size and under eyes dark circles. I have been focusing a little less on these, but I still notice them almost every other day. It’s just that there are days where it phases me and days where it doesn’t AT ALL, which I will discuss in a bit. Anyone else with BDD who sees themselves even bigger than they are and feel ‘big’ will understand what this is like and how sometimes you can look in one mirror than the other and feel like you look different (bigger or smaller). On that note, ANYONE can have BDD by the way, regardless of their size or weight.
Up until earlier this year (lets say April 2019), I used to literally CRY because of how uncomfortable I felt in my own body. The thoughts about my body size became so obsessive that I struggled a lot every morning when I had to choose an outfit to get dressed for university. There were DAYS where I was 15 minutes late to class, or even missed it because of how ‘ugly’ I felt and I couldn’t stand the idea of looking at myself and even when I didn’t look at myself and lost some weight, I still felt HUGE. (By the way, I am not saying anyone bigger in size is ugly. I am explaining how I saw myself and my body image struggles). And it wasn’t just one part of me that I thought looked huge, I saw and sometimes still see every part of me BIG or as people like to name it ‘fat.’
Having PCOS made it even worse, because to me that was the most logical and evident reason that my body is changing beyond my control, we do as PCOS women have SOME control over that but not always and it’s different with every woman. I hated going shopping because I felt that whatever I tried on won’t look good on me as it would look if I was smaller in size. That also made me wonder if everyone around me saw me that way. Obviously, there are bullies everywhere and somehow everyone’s a critic these days, thinking they’re entitled to make comments about others body and weight. So trust me when I say that I know how fucking hard it is to love and accept your body. And I know wishing and wanting to stop feeling this way but you just CAN’T!
Even when I lost weight I still looked at myself as “fat” and “ugly,” and when I would look back to photos where I looked smaller, I would wonder to myself how did I think that I was fat at that time?
I get the desperation to look a certain way and being so tired of being in your body. And so I started purchasing the shit “Skinny Coffee” and BooTea that promise weight loss within 14 days. I hated how I looked so much and even though I knew that shit is unhealthy, I still got them. Yes, you can lose weight drinking Fit Tea and all that stuff, but a) it flushes out a lot of your essential body minerals b) the side effects SUCK. I had awful stomach pain and it made me go to the toilet MANY times on daily basis. I felt sick drinking that stuff and consuming weight loss pills.
It has NOT been proven by science that it really works in a healthy way, and if it does help, doctors wouldn’t bother forming a diet plan and exercise plan for patients that need/want to lose weight.
Also most of the time that stuff contains laxatives to work, which is very unhealthy. Side effects like constipation, diarrhea and increased stomach pain. Most of the time these drugs don’t include ALL ingredients of these pills and they aren’t approved by the FDA. They do it to attract insecure people just so they can profit from our insecurities.
A lot of these weight loss/detox pills have been banned because of how dangerous they can be. Please, unless it is prescribed to a specific person by a professional doctor, don’t share that stuff. It does more harm than good.
The sad reality though is that no matter what anyone tells you, they can never be more mean to you than YOU. BUT, there is a way.. I promise you… Just keep reading…
Even males struggle with BDD by the way, so let’s not exclude their struggles. A lot of guys take hormone supplements, change their diets and hit the gym more than a lot of women just to look ‘masculine’ AKA ‘muscular.’ And it’s sad that people feel the need to look ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine,’ because really, we live in a world where you can literally change your gender, there is no such thing as not feminine or masculine enough.
How To Deal With BDD?
(NOTE: Consistency is key. These won’t work OVERNIGHT, but you start seeing an improvement)
- Find The Source: How did your body image struggle begin? There is always a source to every problem and that’s how we find a solution. The source isn’t just comments from shitty friends, toxic family members, disgusting peers at work, fugly classmates at school and fucking shitty-smell fungus-dumbass-imbecile-simple minded piece of shit of a TITless/dickless gf/bf, it can also be from the environment you are/were at. If you’re surrounded by people constantly talking about cosmetic procedures and diet plans, then this obviously plants the seeds in your subconscious mind that you become hyperaware of this; or social media. If that’s the case then head to number two. If the source is from someone who planted their own beliefs into your by making comments or implying shit or making ‘jokes’ out of it because haha it’s so funny to make people feel insecure, right? Oh no? Then why are you flapping your lips and making others feel uncomfortable really? Yeah, walk the fuck away hun.
Sorry, I went on a tangent there... so if the source is a result of others comments then a) Tell that person how that makes you feel and if they don’t stop, drop them at the nearest train station. b) Keep giving yourself that wake up call like “Hey… these aren’t MY thoughts, that’s what people have been saying and really when I look at others, I don’t think that about them so why am I letting others beliefs dictate how I feel about myself?” And with that, you start to change your internal dialogue.
- Setting Boundaries- When I say setting boundaries, I’m not just talking about calling people out when they bully you. I am talking about the conversations that take place every single time with almost every person – After eating, people make jokes about how it’s time to burn those calories by going for a walk or start dieting the next day. Even in normal conversations people talk about the gym and sometimes they even ask you how often do you exercise. I get how these examples seem silly, but they can be very triggering to us and makes us uncomfortable sometimes. So it’s time to set boundaries by telling people how that TOPIC (not the person) makes you uncomfortable or insecure. Say it in a calm tone and just ask them to respect that boundary even if they don’t get it. It’s something that’s making YOU uncomfortable. Speak up.
Another thing about setting boundaries is changing or limiting that environment of people who constantly talk about celebrities bodies, idk who got lip injections and all these diet plans that make you feel obligated to do the same. Seriously though, your wellbeing comes first and everyone has different boundaries. If social media is making you feel self-conscious as well a) Unfollow pages of #bodygoals or any posts that make you not so confident about your body, and choose the option ‘See Fewer Posts Like These’ b) Follow diverse accounts – People of different colour, shape, skin, height, hair, etc… There is NO one size fits all, everyone is uniquely different and beautiful and you have to see that diversity rather than ONE category of people.
Here are some accounts to follow:
– Mary’s Cup of Tea
– Sydney Grace
- Take The Damn Compliment (TTDC): You know, there are times where I don’t really feel it when someone tells me I’m beautiful. Sometimes I think that they’re just saying that or if they know that I struggled with my self-image I think they’re saying that to make me feel better somehow. Let me tell you something, no one is obligated to say anything. No one has to give you a compliment and no one is holding a gun to their head. So even if you’re not feeling your best, just take the damn compliment. Sometimes we have a poorer vision of ourselves than how others see us. We don’t always notice the things in others that we usually tell ourselves “oh look at what they will think about my skin today…”
- Take Your Own Advice- Something that pisses me off sometimes is how people smaller than me talk about how they want to lose weight but then they tell me “I’m talking about me not you. “You know that’s like saying that yellow tops are ugly just yours isn’t. It doesn’t make any sense and I get where they are coming from because I did it too. I think it’s time we take the advice we give everyone else when they nit pick on their face, hair, skin or body. We are soooo good at being kinder to other people than ourselves, maybe it’s time we ask ourselves every single time what we would say to a friend who feels the same way about themselves. I tell myself EVERY TIME “well girl, if you’re feeling that way, how are other women and men bigger in size supposed to feel? Isn’t that offensive to them?”
- Be Honest with Yourself- After you have identified the source of your self-image struggles, really ask yourself “Why am I trying to change myself?” Is it because you feel the NEED to look like the majority? Are you even being realistic with your goals? Do you really have a physical HEALTH concern or are you so caught up in this fat phobic society we live in? What will bigger lips or a smaller nose really give you? Because confidence isn’t about looking a certain way, confidence is LOVING how you look and choosing to enhance your beauty a little bit more if you WANT to, not because you feel the NEED TO. If you’re doing it for other people (bf/gf, social media, to fit in, etc…) you might want to go ahead and read THIS blog.
- Changing Habits: Something that I used to do for YEARS and sometimes I do it unconsciously, is cover my legs with either my blanket or by placing my bag on my lap. I even did it when I was alone at home because of how hyperaware this idea has become to me. So now I put my bag down or remove the blanket if it’s not cold and even wear dresses that are knee-length. There is NO rush here… No one is standing in front of you with a stop watch waiting for you to get over this. You slowly start implementing changes, but you gotta start somewhere because there is no ‘right time’ to start.
– Stop using filters to look pretty, they are actually ruining your self-image.
– Have no make up days, having acne or imperfect skin is NORMAL.
– Try NOT to conceal the parts of you that make you self-conscious but take it slowly and at your own pace.
- Focus on Health: Health is both physical and mental, so when I say health I mean make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours (at least) of sleep every night, drinking up to 2 litres of water per day, eating foods that you enjoy that also nourish your body and doing activities that you enjoy so you can stay committed. Make sure you also reduce stress as much as you possibly can or if you have anxiety, depression, or any other struggles, do take the time to focus on that to start healing and growing.
- Focus on Self-Love: Now this aligns with #7 as self-love really does affect your mental health and confidence. I have written two blogs that might help you a) How To Start Loving Your Body? and b) Tips on Enhancing Confidence
And please, for the love of hummus and French fries, do this for YOU. Your self-image will affect you for the rest of your life and no one else. People can tell you that you look dashing or terrible, but in the end the only perception that matters is the person you see when you look in the mirror. I understand of course the thoughts of no one is going to love you and that you might seem unattractive to others, I fucking get it. But you also have to remember that our bodies are forever changing. Do you really wanna be with people who will stop loving you when you get wrinkles and grow grey hair? Fuck ’em. I’d rather be with someone who loves me as a whole. Someone who knows that I’m not just a body.
- Form A Positive Relationship With Your BODY: Seriously though, talk to your body. Get a notebook and start to make peace with yourself by apologising to your body for all the hurtful things you have said to it and really thank it for the experiences it has given you! That is such a crucial step to healing, TRUST ME.
- Accept HELP: If you have a history of eating disorders, poor mental health or anything like that, please start accepting the help around you that’s available. We ONLY help ourselves by being honest with ourselves and accepting to make use of any resources available. Lean on people who are worth leaning on.
Remember, you are FUCKING fabulous and a badass queen/king because you have been made uniquely perfect and different. There is SO much power in being different and OWNING that difference!