Body dysmorphic disorder is actually a clinical term, one that I will not make light of, and I think all of us have this to some degree at some point in our lives.
According to Mayo Clinic, body dysmorphic disorder “is a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable. But you may feel so ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.”
Sadly, I think a lot of us have hang-ups about our body that can make us feel this way from time to time. We may feel we’re too overweight to attend a pool party, or no one will be interested in us because our nose is too big or you just feel “different,” and like you don’t belong.
As the Mayo Clinic’s definition explains, these issues we have with our bodies are often only in our own head — no one else would see this perceived flaw in you. I bet many of us have complained about being too fat or not liking our skin or hair, and friends have responded that there’s nothing wrong with us, that we need to see ourselves through their eyes.
And they are so right! But it can be hard to think that way about yourself, to defend our own looks the way we would defend how we view others.
I was reminded of this recently because of a conversation in the Stellar Fit Fam Facebook group. It also came up when scrolling through Instagram and seeing Katie H. Willcox — the founder of Healthy is the New Skinny — address this very topic.
Katie shared that viewing a modeling photo of herself taken right before she got pregnant at first brought up feelings that she recognized as body dysmorphic disorder.
See this modeling picture pop up on my feed of me before I was pregnant made me realize that I had body dysmorphia! I am now #36weeks pregnant and have gained close to 40 pounds. The weight doesn’t bother me because I am a larger frame person and I know this is all a natural part of the process that I have been enjoying. What surprised me was seeing some old photos from a shoot I did just before I got pregnant. I remember seeing the photos and thinking “I need to work out and I thought I looked big.” 😳 What?! I was not big at all. In fact I think I look healthy and great. This has been a good lesson that even when you have healthy views of yourself and body old thought processes can still subconsciously affect you without you being aware of it! So glad this was brought to my attention so I can challenge these beliefs and thoughts about my body as it will continue to change over the next year. I looked healthy and beautiful then and I look healthy and beautiful now! 👈🏼 It is ok to say this!✨💕 #workinprogress #healthyisthenewskinny #healthybodyimage #bodylove #pregnancy #babybump #truth #katiehwillcox
I’ve admired Katie for a long time, and every time she shares an honest, real post like this, it makes me like her even more! She’s a huge advocate for fighting the messages media gives to women about their bodies, and she knows these unrealistic standards that society pressures us with can cause disorders like body dysmorphic disorder.
If you ever feel yourself staring at your own reflection and tearing yourself apart, or criticizing your body the way you would never do to another woman, try hard to stop yourself. Think about the way you are speaking to yourself and what that does to your self-esteem. Instead, look in the mirror and find all the things you love. Repeat them over and over, every day even, and start to believe them.
Like Katie said — you can challenge these feelings and thoughts in your head and change those to positive, self-affirming words!