Hey you, yes you. I see you. Come here, lean in closer.. nope a little closer. There you go. I have a secret to tell you…
I have body dysmorphia.
I hate sounding like a fucking victim. If you know me, I am anything but a victim. I can’t stand my body.
I’ve yet to meet a girl who’s 100% satisfied with the way she looks. It’d be fine if I were just one of those girls who complains about it and then writes it off.
“Ugh, I’m SO fat,” while taking a swig from a beer bottle and scarfing down cookies.
But I’m not that girl.
Everyday my body haunts me; I let my body control my life. I see the beer and cookies and instantly want to go into fetal position. My figure has this strange, mystical power over my soul.
Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder. It can mean different things to different people, and I could supply you with the textbook definition, but it means more to me than just being unhappy with the way I look.
It’s about feeling like a stranger in my own body. I don’t see in me what other people see when they look at me.
Sometimes, I look down at my toes, hoping a bird’s-eye view will give me a better sense of how I fit into my clothes, how big I am in relation to other people, how much space I take up on your average crowded train. That doesn’t help my cause.
Sitting in the library as I write this stupid paper, I’ve put off for literally weeks, I’m taking turns staring at the laptop screen and looking down at my legs. Those fucking legs. Thinking about the way I look hardly leaves room to think about anything else.
Despite spending nearly every minute of my day ruminating on what I used to look like, or what I want to look like, I have no idea what the hell I actually look like.
I know in the back of my mind I’m not fat. I’m healthy, sure I have a few extra pounds on where I shouldn’t but nobody would ever look at me coming down the street and say “she’s fat!”.
The mirror is my worst enemy. Sometimes I’ll stand in front of it and scrutinize every little ounce of fat on my body. My reflection in the morning determines whether I’ll get to go out that night. Other times, I’ll go weeks without even looking in a mirror because I’m too ashamed of what I see.
There’s no winning. It’s either a staring contest with myself, or it’s an aversion to facing myself altogether.
When I look in a mirror, I don’t see a whole body. I see only parts — specifically, all the far-from-perfect parts. And those parts aren’t just parts. They’re defects. They’re everything that’s wrong about me, and they minimize everything that’s right about me. My contagious, bubbly personality, my ambition? None of that matters.
My body is flawed, so I am flawed. My entire self-worth revolves around what I look like. I know how sad that is.
Sometimes, I stay cooped up in my apartment an entire weekend, punishing myself for not looking the way I want to look. In fact, this very weekend, I’ve convinced myself I can’t “afford” to go out and gain any more weight.
I’ve lost a ton of people in my life from blowing off plans one too many times. They think I’m self-absorbed — and they aren’t wrong — but I’m also deathly afraid and wildly insecure. This stupid sickness has me strung by the heels and hanging upside down.
I turn down social invitations because I’m afraid of the food, the alcohol, the judge-y, up-and-down looks I imagine coming from everyone in the room.
Anxiety paralyzes me into sitting in my room by myself for days.
I know my friends and family will always love me. But living with body dysmorphia keeps me from letting people in. God forbid someone I like spends one day too long with me and realizes how fucked up I am about food, my body, the way I feel about myself.
One time, my ex called asking me to dinner. I said no. I’d finished my allotted calories for the day by 6 pm, leaving me with two options: I could go to dinner and make up some excuse not to eat, like having the stomach flu, or I could just stay home. Staying home was just easier.
Going to dinner and actually eating dinner wasn’t an option. He didn’t understand, and he never would, even though he was the one who made this demon return.
I hate this world I’ve created for myself. I want to break free. Frustration over it consumes me. Time spent dwelling over my self-imposed problems is time wasted. There are so many more important things happening in the world outside my body.