*When Body Dysmorphic Disorder began gaining credibility as a mental disorder, this photoshopped image was everywhere soon after. While there are a few cases showing such an extreme distorted view on ones own body, most cases aren't anything like this photo. Rather than ballooning yourself in the mirror, you can only see your flaws to the point of no longer seeing yourself in the mirror at all. This post touches on the ideas that a lack of body positivity and a constant self-comparison to others on social media can bring about distorted body image, similar to that of BDD
I’m going to tell you right now, this post is probably going to be a bit of a mess. I have a lot to say right now and a lot of raw emotion after this past weekend especially. I knew from the beginning I wanted to write about this topic eventually, but a few things have led me into the direction of writing it now.
1) At our first dance competition of the season, a senior soloist did a contemporary piece to the song “Body Love Part 1” by Mary Lambert (aka the Same Love Macklemore chick). Listening to the lyrics and watching this girl's vulnerable performance made me realize I am way to critical of my own body.
2) I’ve been noticing lately that as I get closer and closer to my "ultimate body goal" the more things I'm finding wrong with my body and the more outlandish things I want to do to it.
3) This past weekend, I found myself hardcore judging myself against Snapchat and Instagram fitness (basically soft core porn) “models.” While I know these girls don't live the average lifestyle and many of their bodies aren't natural, I couldn't help but feel inferior, ugly, and fat beyond belief while looking at them.
These body judgment thoughts seem to keep bringing me back to the days where I couldn’t see my own reflection. Back in college, I hated looking at my own reflection. I only saw how thick my thighs had gotten, how soft my stomach was, a fat face, and bingo bat-wing arms. Regardless of what my actual reflection was showing, I could only see these red flags, marked in my mind as needing to change ASAP. I could only see the grotesque version of “me” that my mind thought I was.
Instead of doing my normal “this is how body dismporphia and body negativity used to affect me” thing, I want to just fast-forward to the present and talk about how I’m still suffering with my body image every single day. Being super honest and open, my logical brain knows for a fact that this is the best I’ve ever looked. I’m fueling my body with lots of fruit and vegetables. I prioritize doing hair masks and face masks. I work my ass off in the gym. I work my ass off outside of the gym. I’m finally taking the proper steps to manage my hormones. I'm the same weight I was in high school - some days even weighing less. I’m pretty much doing everything right and it’s finally showing. BUT. Even though I know all this to be true; while there are days I’m wearing a size 0 skirt at 5’9, generally speaking, more often than not, I’m still picking and degrading myself over the body flaws I still have.
Here’s the running list:
1) My thighs - I'm still peeved at them because they still touch – even though that touch point lasts for only like an inch and a half
2) My lower stomach - I'm still frustrated with it, because even though I know when I got my appendix taken out a few summers ago, the surgeon had to cut through that lower abdominal muscle wall and told me I’m going to have the hardest time toning it. Yet despite knowing this and being freaking cut open, I still think my stomach should at least have a four pack and quit jiggling so much.
3) Boob/armpit fat – why is this a thing why?!
4) Triceps - get your shit together already and quit looking so fat in photos when you hug people
5) My skin - I'm angry with it because I switched from the pill to an IUD, meaning instead of an all over hormone, the hormone release is specific to my uterus. Which is great and all, but now I get PMS acne and it sucks
5 is a pretty short body-hating list. And I know my body issues aren’t even "real issues." I know I sound like the “skinny bitch” at the office that just “wants to lose 5 more pounds.” Or like Regina George in Mean Girls. I know this. I tell myself every day I’m being stupid. I make a point to write the body things I’m grateful for so that my brain can see the pros way outweigh the cons. I’m trying. There are times I try on an outfit and am so obsessed with how I look in it. Then there are other days when I look in the mirror and want to cry because I still see so many imperfections. I try to be so positive, because I’ve been told a lot lately that I look so great and in a way my body is semi-ideal (tall, lean, long beach wavy hair, good complexion, etc). More so I'm trying to be positive because I FEEL so great and full of energy and happiness. BUT THIS IS SO FREAKING HARD.
I know a lot of my insecurities stem from social media culture. Honestly, don’t most of our body insecurities, both in men and women (or whatever gender you identify with) stem from the recent soar social media and social media fame? Last weekend, Greg and I stayed with my friends in Cleveland. While we were waiting to go out, I asked if we could take a few pictures since as of late I have this weird fear of not documenting memories. Anyway. We did the normal picture thing, then I got on his Snapchat and we started taking goofy ones. I posted one to his story and was automatically directed to all the stories of people he follows. (Now real quick FYI, Greg and I are both super open about our phones. I know his password, and even though he constantly forgets mine, I always give it to him. Neither of us has anything to hide from the other. So maybe that’s the reason things panned out the way they did.) Turns out, Greg was following a few Snapchat “fitness” stars with fake tits, barely wearing any clothing, strutting around and showing off their lives and *cough, cough* assets. Now again, logical brain Kelly knows these girls exist. I know Greg is a regular dude who enjoys looking at those kinds of women. I get it. I do. But because A) I had already had a very large margarita and some wine B) had been having poor body image the few days before and C) knowing I will NEVER look like any of these girls, I slowly began to mentally lose it.
I’m not one of those girls that yells and screams when I lose it. I’m usually the type that goes and grabs wine and cries. But this time, I actually didn’t cry. I looked dumbfounded at his phone, looking at these flawless girls trying to rationalize why Greg even dates me -on the most superficial, basic, narcissistic level. I looked at my friend, put the phone down, and went to refill my glass. My friend asked if I was okay and I looked at her and said, “No, I really just want liposuction. I will never look like that.” She looked at me and said something along the lines of “Kelly shut up those girls aren't real” and I remember Greg chiming in supporting her statement. The stupid thing is, I knew they were right. I know I look good right now. I know that even if I didn't look "my best", I'm still an amazing human that shouldn't put my self worth into my dress size, because I have so much more to offer than that. But when it comes down to it, I can’t help but compare myself. They say comparison is the thief of joy, and it so is. But even though I know that to be true, I still can’t shake my own negative thoughts about myself.
I did my best that night to listen to them. On our way to the bar I read the “Body Love” lyrics as a kind of hype up. I won’t post all of them, but I want to share my favorite few lines:
But the time has come for us to reclaim our bodies
Our bodies deserve more than to be war-torn and collateral
Offering this fuckdom as a pathetic means to say
"I only know how to exist when I am wanted"
I used to be the girl who'd etch tally marks on her arm. I used to be the girl so scared and afraid. I used to only know how to exist when someone wanted me. I used to be the girl who couldn’t look at her own eyes in her reflection. I used to be the girl so focused on my body that I forgot about every other thing I had to offer. But lately, it feels like I’m slowly becoming that girl again. Not intentionally. But it’s happening. I don’t want to be that girl again. I’ve been doing so well at drowning out my body demons. I refuse to let them sink me again. I refuse to sink at all. I’m pledging to body positivity. Hell, I’m pledging to all positivity. We are all beautiful. We are all enough. Throw a rock at the reflection you think you see and open your eyes to everything that makes up you. See the light in your eyes, the curiosity in your mind. See hands that create, the soul that sings, and the passions that move you. This is a journey. A stupid, difficult journey. But it's a journey that needs to be taken. Some days, it’s hard to think highly of yourself in any way. But. Just know. Or just try to know. You are worth more than your body. You are more than your body. You are enough.
I know I am because I said am
My body is home
PS – Greg sat with me on the couch after we had come home from going out. He grabbed his phone, opened his Snapchat, and swiftly un-followed all of those “fake” girls (I know fake isn’t the best word choice, but I’m not sure what else to call them at this point in time, as they clearly were not friends). I tried to stop him actually, telling him that I didn’t want him to do this for me, that I was okay. But he did it anyway, telling me that I’m the only girl he cares about and I’m the most beautiful person he’s ever met – inside and out. So shout out to you babe. I know I un-publically thank you all the time. But your patience, support, and love for me is something I never thought I deserved. Something I sometimes still don't think I deserve. Thank you for helping me re-shape my reflection. Thank you for helping me start to see the beautiful person you saw from the beginning <3