Body Dysmorphia: How Your Mind Is Playing Tricks On You
A few nights ago, I was walking home from a yoga class when I overheard a conversation between two girls in front of me. They were talking about how they looked that night when all of a sudden one of them yelled, “Body dysmorphia! I have an inconsistent view of my body compared with the rest of society! I have body dysmorphia!” Now, even though this is a term I am quite familiar with, I realized how little it's actually talked about.
This condition, also termed Body Dysmorphic Disorder, is a fairly common disorder that affects both men and women equally, characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with a perceived defect in one's own appearance. This is such a powerful topic, because for so many people today the issue isn't “I'm fat”; the issue is, “I think I'm fat.” We have put such immense pressure on ourselves to look a certain (often unrealistic) way, that we can no longer see what we actually look like. I myself struggled with this for years when I was battling an eating disorder. I would look in the mirror at my body and see an entirely different person than my friends and family saw. It wasn't until years later when I was recovering that I was able to look back at photos and have a realistic and objective view of my appearance. I finally saw the sick, underweight girl that everyone else saw. And I finally was happy to gain rather than lose weight. I didn't want to be the girl with body dysmorphia anymore.
And although many of you may not have a full-blown eating disorder, it's still very likely that you have an unhealthy relationship with your body. Whether you see yourself as bigger, softer, less muscular, or less beautiful than you really are, it's time you realized the truth. The truth is that you are the only one being mean and judgmental to yourself. The rest of us see you as the beautiful person that you are. So start embracing your body and appearance, so that you give others permission to do the same. Stop focusing on the parts of you that you don't like. Instead make a list of all the things you do like about yourself, and focus on those until your self-love grows. Seriously, right now...go write down how beautiful your eyes are, or how your smile lights up the room, or how you just love the way that one dress hugs your sexy curves!
The world needs more people who are brave enough to love themselves exactly as they are. Be brave. Walk the streets yelling “body empowerment!” instead of “body dysmorphia.” Because the truth is, you're beautiful.
~ With love ~