Did you know that over 65% of people in the world suffer from B.D.D, or for those unfamiliar with the acronym, Body Dysmorphic Disorder? It’s more common that people would believe, and I can honestly say that I have suffered with this view of myself for years.
Today I’m going to be really honest with you, because I don’t see myself the way other’s see me and that’s okay, I have learned how to handle this feeling and live with it. But to get to the point where I am at today, which is happy and proud of my body, it took a lot of work through personal development and exercise. I say exercise because I used to be the term “skinny-fat,” which essentially means that I was not healthy in a sense, but I was not technically “fat” either. I felt that any form of exercise would only make me look “manly” and if I ever did tag along with other’s who had a gym membership I would do maybe 20 minutes of cardio and some ab exercises then call it a day.
I refused to eat, I thought that if I ate too much then I would “get fat,” when the reality of it was I was eating unhealthily and very sporadically. Fast foods or frozen foods were all I ever ate when I did eat, maybe twice a day if that. On top of that I drank excessively, and since I hated/hate beer, it was always frilly girl drinks packed full of sugars. I was the epitome of unhealthy and because of these habits I also ruined my immune system, I was sick constantly with either a cold or the flu and developed some withstanding problems with certain foods to this day because of what I denied my body for so long.
What I saw in the mirror, was what I thought was attractive and pleasing for other’s to see, but I still saw a girl who was “fat” and completely unhappy, not to mention uncomfortable in her body. I saw excess fat where other’s could not, I saw pudge that no one else was aware of, in the mirror I viewed imperfections where there were none. There is no way to really identify where the stem of this view of myself came from, I don’t honestly believe that science can explain this one, but they will try to anyways.
Growing up I went through a “chubby” phase as most growing children tend to do, but I was ridiculed for it, made fun of constantly and developed a low self-esteem because of that. But I never lost my ambition, I continued with outdoor activities, sports, anything that I could do so I could “lose weight” and “get thin.” These were my thoughts and actions just at 10 years old….where I should be doing these activities just to have fun, which I often did still have fun, but my underlying thoughts were that participating in all of these activities would “make me skinny” and therefore more liked and accepted by my peers.
I grew continuously through middle school, still holding onto some baby weight, getting made fun of now for my quirky personality along with the “chubby” baby weight still holding onto my body like some kind of disease. I went through the skater phase, the emo phase, the preppy phase, all of those awful stages that come with trying to find out exactly who you are that all pre-teens go through, while hiding my personality from everyone and being someone completely different to just “fit in.” I was so excited when I finally got braces in eighth grade, surely they would make me more beautiful and confident, then I could truly be accepted…just 1.5 years until they were off! (try 3 years)
Deciding on which High School to go to was an easy choice for me, I needed a fresh start where people wouldn’t know who I was. Tired of being picked on by the same people everyday, I went to a school where no one would even know who I was or what I looked like previously, this was my chance to start over and I took that chance. I took Personal Fitness the summer entering High School, to prematurely make some friends and earn some credits and I started my freshmen year thin, FINALLY.
But with that, came the pressure of staying at my ideal vision of thin. By the time I got into my first year of college, it only got worse and I only became more and more unhealthy. I skipped meals on a daily basis thinking that this was the right way to stay thin, which of course I now understand that the right foods provide you with the nutrients you need to fight off illnesses and support your immune system.
I was unintentionally letting my body down, not only physically but mentally. I was unstable and in a terrible emotional state, constantly making excuses as to why I was always angry or upset with everyone around me, but the truth is I was starving myself. I starved myself of food, healthy relationships, personal happiness, and started spiraling into someone I hated. I let my self loathing take over my life and fell into turmoil, I was no longer myself and honestly didn’t even know if I ever was to begin with.
I lost sight of who I was for a long time, but I decided finally that this needed to end, that I needed to change. Once I made the decision, I put it to action. Through personal development and a healthy relationship I was able to turn my life around, I was able to start being the person that I had always wanted to be, but couldn’t let myself become before. I’ve continued to change over the course of four years now, to constantly be myself no matter what, to embrace who I am and not try to be someone else’s idea of perfect. To become a more confident and beautiful version of myself, to eat….and eat A LOT! But also to LIVE. To be happy within myself and extend that warmth on to others.
Through this learning process I have discovered that we are who we choose to be, and I chose to be what no one else – including past me – would ever believe I could become: completely happy being myself and loving the skin I’m in. The struggle was well worth it, and I am proud of who I am today. While I will always still struggle with what I see in the mirror, I know that inside I am the most beautiful that I have ever been, and that’s the part that shines through any mirror around. This journey made me strong, and I will only get stronger with time.
If I can overcome my insecurities and see a better version of myself in the mirror, and finally feel complete and comfortable within myself, then I know it is possible for other people out there who suffer from B.D.D., together we can overcome this image. We can become healthy, both in body and mind.