struggles with dysmorphia

recently i’ve been having such a hard time with the way i look. i’m the most fit i’ve ever been in my life–i can run 6-8 miles easily, bike for hours at a fast pace, i’m flexible and strong from fourteen years of yoga–but i’m struggling to love my body. i hate the way my thighs rub when i walk in a skirt and the way t-shirts and jeans frame my stomach. i’m trying so hard but i just don’t know how to reprogram my brain. it isn’t easy that i have so much photographic evidence of me being ten or fifteen pounds lighter (early 20s! ugh) and that it’s been so difficult to lose that weight. something happened; it seemed like as soon as i moved to vancouver i gained weight, and not just muscle weight from biking everywhere.

one of the most ridiculous parts of this whole-brain struggle is that when i was at my “ideal” 10ish-pounds-lighter weight, i still wasn’t happy with the way i looked.  i’ve had issues with my appearance, mainly focused on my stomach, since i was probably nine or ten.  it’s so stupid to focus so much energy and dislike on a single body part.  my body is visually appealing in so many other ways and it’s so strong and capable!

the real issue at hand isn’t the weight, whatever it may be, but my struggle to accept my awesome, strong, athletic body because of this weight. i’ve had brief periods where i’m happier with my body despite the weight gain (one of them was having my bra size measured to be several cups larger than i expected, another was when i was boxing a lot) but i keep swinging back to this unhappiness. i don’t believe that other people look at me and think negative thoughts about my body, and i get lots of positive reinforcement from my friends and boyfriend, but this is such a negative thought pattern and i don’t know how to crawl out of it.

recently i read a wonderful post on a similar subject: when i became a plus size model. it really hits home with me because i did a tonne of modeling when i was younger, although it wasn’t the professional level that this woman did.  i keep reading things like that post,  and talking with my friends, and at times it’s so inspiring but in the end it’s still so hard to be okay with those extra pounds.  i haven’t found any magic way to just get over this–sometimes it’s easier to be happy with my appearance, and sometimes it’s so difficult.

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6 thoughts on “struggles with dysmorphia

  1. I think it’s just plain human nature; it’s just one of those bummer things that our brains do. No matter how good things are, we’re always second guessing ourselves.

    I think the best we can hope for is that we have a good support network to help us deal with our insecurities and reassure us that we’re better than we imagine ourselves to be.

    For as much progress as I’ve made the last couple years, I still think I suck at social interaction and I’m still constantly afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. But when you told me last night that you and Mal had fun hanging out with me, that made me feel good. It’s the kind of reinforcement that really helps me convince myself that I’m better at this than I think I am.

    When you’re feeling down on yourself, I hope you remember those positive reinforcements that your friends (myself included) and lovers have told you, because that’s who you really are: a beautiful amazing lady.

    1. thanks for your thoughtful response. i’m lucky, i have a great support network (including you!). the shitty thing is that so much of this is internal–no matter the nice things that caring people have said, sometimes the critic inside overrides it. remembering the positive things from friends can help beat back the blues, though!

  2. urgh. i wish i had some words of advice, but i am in the very same boat as you. my internal criticism of my body always overrides anything complimentary that people say. as much as i try to re-think and analyse my negative responses and actively try to be nicer to myself, i find that the shitty critical thoughts tend to win out.

    i too have found that running, x-country skiing, and weights over the last months have helped me feel more comfortable in my body lately, though like you i am not pleased that being at my strongest and most muscular also coincides with being my heaviest. i too carry my fat around my middle (yay slowing metabolism and stress cortisol response and having PCOS-related hormone screwiness) and i feel really insecure about it, even while i rationally know that no one is even really looking at me or caring what i look like… and even if they did… why do i really care?

    it bothers me that i am most annoyed by the fat, too. i’ve never had pretty face at any point in my life, but ten years ago i could see all of my abs and that made me happy.

    i guess i just keep trying and trying to reprogram. right now i can’t stand pictures of myself, but i am going to run around in a bikini all summer anyway and continually try to shift the focus onto how i feel, rather than how i look. another thing i find productive is trying to really stop people who get all fat-hate-y and call them out on it when they are hurtful. there is such a deep-seated aversion to fat in our culture and that disturbs me. i hate how i find myself slipping into it, even if it is only directed at myself; i have nothing at all against other’s bodies, so why this treatment of myself?

    1. where are these shitty, insidious, critical thoughts creeping out from? we are smart and tough ladies, we should be able to outwit them, right? the most we can do is keep our bodies healthy, and try to reprogram our brains…

      you know, i started wearing a one-piece suit last year and it felt SO GOOD. bikinis have felt really small and like they show too much of my body (even when i was a weight i was more happy with). but props to you for pushing yourself and challenging your hurtful beliefs. it is crazy how we can be so judgemental of our own bodies while at the same time would never do that to another person. you and i don’t care what other people bodies look like; why so much hate toward our own! it’s so easy to be internally shitty because the only victim is invisible.

      despite all this negativity, i’m happy to hear that you’ve been really active!!

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