My Personal Struggle With Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia affects how a person looks at themselves, often negatively, and can severely affect their mental health and social life.

I+struggle+with+body+dysmorphia.

Metro

I struggle with body dysmorphia.

Kalyn McLeod, Columnist

When most people enter their teenage years, they compare themselves to others more and more, as explained by Middle Earth. Suddenly we are thrown into a world of “attractive” and “unattractive” people, with perfect skinny models constantly shoved in people’s faces. Many people develop insecurities and dislike parts of their body. But these insecurities can grow into something more, something known as body dysmorphia.

Mayo Clinic explains that body dysmorphic disorder is an illness where one constantly thinks about their insecurities or perceived flaws, often causing them to avoid certain social situations. I have struggled with body dysmorphia for a while now. For as long as I can remember, I have been a swimmer and a gymnast, both of which require much of your body showing. When I was younger, this didn’t affect me at all. But around the time I started competitive gymnastics, I started to feel insecure about my body. The entire point of competitive gymnastics is to be perfect. It’s hard to achieve perfection if you don’t have a perfect body. I noticed that most of the girls who scored really high were all really skinny and tiny. Suddenly I felt fat compared to them, and would try sucking in my stomach during practice. But then I would come to school and people would say I was “too skinny” or a “twig.” This had a huge mental toll on me. At this point I had no clue if I was fat or skinny or an appropriate body size. 

I started some unhealthy eating habits because of it. For a while I tried skipping meals, and not eating a ton. After a while I realized how unhealthy this was and got out of it. Unfortunately, this just led to me binge eating. I was almost constantly eating snacks and relied on my fast metabolism to take care of it. Again, I eventually realized how unhealthy this was and tried to achieve a healthy diet. But I ended up with a cycle of switching between them too, some days starving myself and some days eating way too much. Now, I am on a better track when it comes to eating, but there are still some days where I go back to my old habits. But I still struggle with my body image. No matter where I go, I either feel too fat or too skinny. I am often uncomfortable in social situations because I am constantly focusing on my appearance. I already have social anxiety, so going out in public or going to things like big parties are a nightmare for me. Whenever I go out, it’s usually in a hoodie and pants. For me, covering up my entire figure has become the best way for me to feel comfortable. It doesn’t help when friends ask “why do you always wear hoodies?” or say “more people will like you if you dress better.” 

The summer time, however, is the biggest struggle for me. Living in Arizona, you can’t quite wear hoodies in 100 °F weather. I get so nervous going swimming and taking pictures with friends, because I feel like I am nowhere near as pretty as them. But there are certain people who are helping to feel more comfortable, especially during summer. When I am with these people, I am not so focused on my looks, just on how happy they make me. I believe these people are the best way to help you get through almost anything. 

One of the most important things I have learned through my journey is that no matter what you look like, there will always be someone who will judge you or not like how you look. That isn’t exactly the most positive thing, but it’s important to realize. Knowing that even if I was a “perfect” supermodel, someone could still find flaws makes me feel a lot better about myself. In the end, everyone has flaws, but if all we did was focus on them, no one would get anywhere. The important thing is celebrating yourself and others, regardless of looks, and focusing on the things in life that are actually important.