I wake up in the morning. I roll over onto my back and slide my left hand down over my stomach. As my thumb rests in the groove of my belly button, my fingers find the curve below. I squeeze gently, as if to measure a handful of dough.
I stand up and walk towards the bathroom. My eyes catch the mirror on the way but I’m thankful that my vision is blurred. I know I won’t like the reflection.
Though I have never talked about it with a professional, I experience symptoms of body dysmorphia. Simply put, I hate how my body looks and this affects my interaction with the world.
Some people would accuse my behaviour of being narcissistic but on closer inspection you’ll see something else. I don’t expect admiration. I don’t think myself special or extra deserving in any way. I certainly don’t use others to elevate my social status.
What I am guilty of is an unhealthy obsession. When I walk into an elevator I look in the mirror. To everyone else I’m admiring my beauty. What I’m really doing to assessing my physical flaws. I notice my weak upper frame and the gut that sticks out. I turn to a side profile to see if it’s more or less noticeable.
If I ever have a fat day I tend to stay home. I don’t want others to see me. Not even strangers. I’ll spend too much money on Uber Eats just to ensure I don’t have to be seen by others.
As the weather warms up my nightmare begins. Clothes become more revealing. I keep a special set of clothes I can wear which somewhat hide my flaws. Then true horror happens. A friend asks me to the beach. Nothing frightens me more than taking my clothes off there. A place I associate with Baywatch bodies and bronzed beauty. I avoid with any excuse I can conjure.
I am threatened by extremely attractive men. If I’m socialising and an athletic male joins the group, I am displaced by their alpha energy. I live in a world where he will receive more attention for his abs than I will for my thoughts on something. His mere existence will make me feel less of myself. Not because I’m competitive, not because I need to be the centre of attention. Those are the easy things to accuse me of. It’s because my value is so deeply associated with how I look that now I rank as worthless.
I admire people who can take that group photo of their holiday in Hawaii and just see the fun time they were having. I want to make sure I don’t look fat. The photo below was a celebration of a debut in life modeling. I notice how my belly seems to stick out.
Life modelling you think? Why would a man who can’t take his shirt off at the beach do something like that?
Because I am on a mission. That mission is to be comfortable with any way I look. I grew up being told by my mum any time I had gained weight. I have lived in a community which values me for being sexy and fuckable. I have been cheated on with men that are hotter than me. I am intelligent but it hasn’t made me lots of money or helped me live a successful life.
But my new motto is that I am enough just the way I am. That I don’t need to be anything in particular and can be more if I choose.
I just wish the world was an easier place to keep that dream alive.
#bodydysmorphia #bodypositivity #bodyimage #zerotohero #bodypositive #skindeepbeauty #bodyissues #speakingout #mentalhealthmatters
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