Unfortunately, body dysmorphia is something I am very familiar with.
When I was fifteen years old, I leaned over the side of a bridge after eating one too many fudge blocks with some friends and forced myself to vomit. "Woah! That was efficient!" I thought foolishly. Well sadly, the "foolishness" continued. For two more years, I found myself on my hands and knees over the toilet or on the shower floor with my hand down my throat every night before bed as if it was a part of my bedtime routine.
This poor young girl felt so pressured by society to look thin and "beautiful" that she unhealthily skipped meals, counted calories down to the extra blueberry, sucked in her already-thin waistline, pushed her body beyond its limits in Hot Power Yoga classes, binged and wretched until her stomach felt empty enough to go to sleep.
How did this happen to her?
My upbringing in the world of entertainment didn't help. These poor people are pressured to stay relevant, young, beautiful and eccentric when they are simply just talented artists trying to be and express. When I studied makeup artistry and beauty, I was told to cover up the blemishes and birthmarks, fake the tones, and "pretty" the face. When I decided I wanted to pursue a career in fashion, that didn't help either. In fashion school I was taught to draw the nine-head fashion croquis (the classic fashion illustration) for design. At this point, I was on my self-love journey and I was beginning to believe curves really were beautiful. So I'd sketch my fashion figure a little curvier than the way that was demoed. With a slap of a piece of tracing paper right over my drawing, my teacher would instruct me to make the figure thinner. This was my schooling. This was my education.
So maybe your family wasn't in the entertainment industry, maybe you didn't study to be a makeup artist when you were in the 8th grade, and maybe you didn't get a degree in fashion design. Sadly, it doesn't matter. Unfortunately, you're probably pretty familiar with body dysmorphia too. According to The Lexington Line, 42% of all girls from first through third grade wish they were thinner. You read that tragic sentence right.
It's been engrained in us since we were young - album covers, magazines, and TV displaying the best of the best, the most retouched of the most retouched. Today it's even worse: social media, filters and photoshop all streaming in instantly to show us we're not good enough. Luxurious industries like fashion, beauty and entertainment feature unattainable figures and high-maintenance looks - all for the glamour, all for the decadence. The root of the word, "decadence" comes from the word, "decay," - did you know?
Well if you haven't been notified, these decadent industries profit off of the insecurity of humanity - namely women. Without the desire to be flawless what is makeup to a woman? Without the need to flaunt to feel validated by society, what are designer handbags? Without magazines and press telling us what's hot and what's not, what is J-Lo compared to the girl next door with an incredible voice?
We are fed bullshit every single day from all angles.
How do you fix body dysmorphia?
First of all, become aware that you have body dysmorphia or an eating disorder. What's scary is how much denial we can be in. Like an alcoholic who claims they only have a problem if they drink "during the day," I decided that I wasn't bulimic or struggling with body dysmorphia because I only threw up in the evenings. Literally. Once aware, seek help - both internally and externally.
It's important to protect ourselves from this insecurity-hungry world full of negative media. This is the work to filter the external world.
Drop the tabloids
Turn the TV off
Limit our social media intake to 30 minutes per day or less
Ignore the clickbait
Forget the fads
Unfollow any accounts that don't empower you
Be discerning about the information that comes in
The Internal Work
The most important part of keeping your body-peace is an inside job.
Meditation of all kinds, but specifically for self-love, self-confidence, body scan, and mindfulness for deep connection with your body are great places to start.
Positive Affirmations surrounding body image and confidence should be a part of your morning routine. This one is my favorite.
Yoga or any mindful movement. I like yoga because it is a solo-practice. There is no competition, only your mind, your body and your breath. It feels gentle and holistic, while it can still be a fantastic workout. Here's my favorite channel for an at-home practice.
Nature is such a healing tool. Take your shoes off and ground in the earth or go on a long, quiet walk at some point daily.
Therapy has been a pivotal tool for me. Though I have completely eradicated myself of any eating disorder or tendencies as such, I still have the tendency to be extremely self-critical so having someone to hold you accountable can be extremely beneficial
How do I know if I have body dysmorphia?
It's normal to be our own worst-critics, but you don't have to be. Body dysmorphia can be as serious as full-blown bulimia to the judgmental way you think about or look at your body. Are you regularly skipping meals or fad-dieting? Are you pushing your body way past its limits during workouts? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and immediately think of all the things you want to change? Do you dislike yourself or your appearance? Any of these could be body dysmorphia. Talk to someone you trust or ideally, a professional.
Does body dysmorphia go away?
Upon researching this topic, I found many answers to this question to be negative. I'm not a psychologist, nor have I conducted a proper study on this issue, but from personal experience, I can say that with work, I do believe body dysmorphia can go away. I believe we are responsible for our mental health and taking all the natural preventions as well as doing the deep dives inside are what it's all about. I always say "healing is an action." We have to put in the time to eat healthy, feed our self-confidence, tell ourselves we love ourselves, get outside, move, center and reach out when we need support.
I am here for you if you or a loved one is struggling with body dysmorphia. Don't hesitate to send me a message if you have any questions or would like to book a custom session around this topic. I would be happy to help guide you.
Sending love, peace and self-confidence,