To whomever this might help,
Body dysmorphic disorder, also referred to as body dysmorphia, is a b—-h. But I just want anyone and everyone to know that you aren’t the only one dealing with it.
When it comes to fixating over yourself in all mirrors or photographs, finding a certain part or parts of your body that are never up to your personal standards, or even just wanting to have a body like someone else’s, know that I’ve been there too.
And I believe I can speak for many others with body dysmorphia by saying that they’ve been there as well. They’ve gone straight to the bathroom after a big meal and focused on the size of their stomachs. They’ve gone to bed furious because they ate too much that day. They’ve spent mornings where the first three outfits weren’t good enough because they didn’t look the way they wanted to in them.
They’ve found themselves fighting a seemingly uphill battle against their body. The expectations and wants for the “perfect body” are so sought after, yet the underlying understanding as to why they want it so badly that it is left by the wayside. Should the person eventually get to where they want to be, what would happen next? Would it only be a matter of time before they find something new to obsess over? Or how about when their perfected body part isn’t up their standards again?
It took a six-year battle for me to realize what I needed my body to be like. I went from a sixth-grader to a high school senior with the dream goal of being truly skinny. For a long time, I had just wanted to be skinnier, but then it morphed into the dream of looking like the ideal distance runner I so aspired to be. Those two combined for a perfect storm of undereating and obsessing over my body, and when I finally arrived at the “right” level of skinniness, I found my body only weak and vulnerable.
I got sick three times in four weeks in March of my high school senior year. It took me being weighed in at 142 pounds while I stood six foot one inch to realize that being skinny wasn’t everything — being strong was. I embarked on a long journey back to where I wanted to be. I finally achieved it in the summer after I graduated, and while I have fluctuated since then, I’ve found myself in control of my body image whether or not I look exactly the way I want to.
My senior track season was half as good as it could’ve been because the strength I used to have in my body was only beginning to return. By the time prom came around, I looked like myself again. I looked like a strong, growing human. In my camera roll on my phone, there are almost no photos from the winter of 2018 because I deleted them all. I hated the way I looked, and I wanted myself to only have reminders of my strength rather than my thinness.
At the end of my freshman year of college, I realized I had gained eight pounds. They were almost all muscle. I had regained my strength. I looked and felt strong. And while there was fat on my stomach and on my face — my forever problem body parts — I was okay with it. It meant that my body was getting what it needed.
Nowadays, I train at a level so high that I am practically shoving the calories into my body just to keep up. While there are some nights where I go overboard and feel guilty, I remind myself that I am human and that tomorrow is a new day and a new time to refocus.
I have done all of the things that I mentioned in the beginning of this article. I have waged a long battle against my body and even while I am still not 100 percent pleased with my body — college eating habits are not ideal for a perfect body, folks — I am happy with what my body can do, what it looks like and how it is.
I still count calories but now it’s to make sure I get enough. I still worry about sugars but now it’s making sure I get enough natural sugars. I value my healthy fats and cherish them dearly. I’ve flipped the script on my battle with my body, and I could never be happier.
I eat donuts at least once a week. I have one of the biggest sweet tooths in the world. I am a chronic snacker. And with all of those things considered, I have never met a vegetable I didn’t like. I actively crave brussel sprouts. I love lean proteins, any and all kinds of rice and I just about eat my way through the rainbow every damn day.
So yes, body dysmorphia takes a daily toll on my life. But now, it’s on my terms, and I know I am not the only one out there.