Body dysmorphia, or a fixation the idea or belief that one’s body is flawed. It is where anorexia, bulemia, and binge eating tend to reside or arise. Believe it or not. Even I, a rather obese woman, approaching 50, struggles with body dysmporphia, and have since my early teens.
I was different from all of the other girls. I was tall, but curvier. I filled out faster than the others, and didn’t have the same body shape that most teenage girls had. I didn’t fit in. And when a modeling agent approached me, I bit at the chance for a chance to shine.
At the time I was 15, I was on the high school swim team, which meant I was nothing but muscle due to the strict practice and workout regimen that we had to maintain. Because of that, I weighed in at 120 lbs at 5’7″. That’s a BMI of 19, which is absolutely normal for a teenage girl that height.
When I called the number on the card the modeling agent gave me, the first question I was asked was “how tall are you, and how much do you weigh?” When I told them, they did not ask how muscular or are you active. No, their immediate response was “loose 15 pounds before you call us back.” Ouch!
That began a secret battle inside of me that lasted ten years. Or, so I thought, because like I said, here I am at 50, looking at a funhouse mirror in disgust.
When I finally broke free of the anorexia/bulimia struggle, I actually stayed healthy until I returned to college. It wasn’t the studies or the homework that created the downfall for me, it was a different kind of stress.
In order to help pay for college, I was talked into becoming a live-in caregiver for a woman with special needs. The only time I had away from the home and my care-giving duties was while attended classes and any necessary errands.
One of my stress relievers before then had been going to the gym just for an hour a couple of days a week, even just to do a circuit training routine at the co-rec on campus. I was able to maintain doing this for the first 3 months of my being a care-giver, but I returned back the house one day to be told that the hour I spent at the co-rec doing my routine did not count as qualified time away.
I tried to continue to workout or find ways to fit in fitness by doing aerobic videos. Walking to and from classes were not enough, as the campus was condensed enough that it was not that long of a walk between my courses. I had tried biking quickly around the small neighborhood while my charge napped, but I was afraid of recompense for anything that would have gone wrong, so I stopped that. So, the weight started to pile on, and it didn’t matter how much I dieted, it felt like I had lost control of my body’s shape.
I wish I could say I beat it, and it has felt like it at times, as I have returned to a healthy weight at various points, but between being injury prone, the medication I keep being placed on, and outside stressors and obstacles, I feel like I’m on an ever losing battle.
And that leaves me here today: staring at the mirror, screaming “I hate you! I hate everything about you!” Yet, I know I don’t hate myself.
I know that I have a healthy self-image, but that is about who I am as an individual. I fail drastically when it comes to the way I view myself physically. I know that my current situation is only temporary, and that I’m elated that I’m able to be mobile again after 18 months of being immobile, which did cause a drastic increase in my body size.
But that is just it, when you struggle with body dysmorphia, and you go through something like that, it is like magnifying it by 1000. It isn’t minor anymore. It becomes major. It is no longer something to just shrug off and move on from. Because even when I do lose the weight, I still struggle with seeing the weight on me in the mirror, because that mirror seems to always be the funhouse mirror instead of the mirror we should be looking in.