Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder
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    Community Voices

    What’s one good thing you can say about your body today?

    <p>What’s one good thing you can say about your body today?</p>
    16 people are talking about this
    Monika Sudakov

    How Victoria’s Secret Reinforced My Eating Disorder and Body Image Issues

    Hulu’s new docuseries “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons” is an elaborate exposé of not just the underbelly of the brand itself, but of the sordid history of Les Wexner, founder and CEO of L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, and his relationship with the late, convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. According to the documentary, Epstein, who was made Wexner’s power of attorney from 1991 to 2007, utilized his access to Wexner’s fortune as a means of financing his criminal activities and Victoria’s Secret as a ruse to lure girls into relationships with him under the guise of becoming a model. While this is a fascinating and extremely complex aspect of the documentary, the more relevant theme explored, at least relevant to me personally, is how toxic the environment of Victoria’s Secret was not just for the models, but for consumers of the brand. Models cite a culture of pervasive harassment and abuse, predominantly by Chief Marketing Officer Ed Racek, and pressure to maintain unnatural body standards. And while the messaging of the brand purported to reflect sexually empowered women, behind the scenes the look was very much designed for the male gaze. Female employees consistently reported presenting data-driven trends about the current views of women toward sex and sexuality, but were trumped at every turn by high ranking male executives, favoring increasingly exploitative marketing that pushed the boundaries of soft core porn, modeled after the images in Playboy magazine. The women featured in the catalogs, on the runway, and eventually in online marketing for the brand were selected because of their “perfect” looks, which lacked any kind of diversity or inclusion. Their images were highly curated and severely photoshopped, presenting an unattainable ideal that no average woman could possibly achieve without a severely restricted diet, extreme fitness regime, and plastic surgery. And they were made even more unrealistic through the use of padding and push-up bras, which created the illusion of proportions that simply don’t exist in nature. The rigid physical standards represented by the models translated to the available inventory at their stores. And this is where my ongoing battle with anorexia and body dysmorphia come in. My fixation on my body began at a very young age. I was freakishly young when I began developing boobs. By sixth grade I was a solid “C” cup and continued to grow from there. While most of my peers weren’t even thinking about a training bra, I was already struggling to find a bra that fit my proportions. Kids in my class started calling me Dolly Parton and would snap my bra, humiliating me and reinforcing the fact that something was very wrong with me. The bullying continued outside the classroom and in the dance studio where the constant message was “you need to lose weight” but the subtext was “your boobs are too big.” I’d be subjected to constant weight shaming and comments about how my bouncing boobs were a distraction when I jumped. At one point I even had to wear three Ace bandages to bind myself so I’d appear to be younger than my ample bosom would suggest. It was utterly soul crushing. As you can imagine, bra shopping became a constant source of angst. My ever expanding cup size seemed to defy the laws of nature. My weight continued to dwindle and yet I couldn’t get my breasts to cooperate with the starvation and exercise/bingeing regimen I had adopted. So when I’d attempt to find a bra that fit, it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. I couldn’t just go to Victoria’s Secret like all my friends did and find a cute, lacy push-up bra. They didn’t make them in my cup size. Or if they did have even one bra on hand in my cup size, which was almost never, the bra was padded. The last thing I wanted to do was make my breasts appear even larger than they already were. Going to Victoria’s Secret felt so invalidating. Not only could I not participate in the social ritual of going to the mall and shopping with friends… the store itself and its teeny tiny inventory seemed to sneer at me, rubbing salt into a gaping wound that kept filling up with more and more breast tissue. I was inadequate as a dancer, inadequate as a woman, and felt like a complete freak of nature. I hated my breasts and I hated Victoria’s Secret for making me feel so disgusting. If sexy was what they embodied, I must have been gross. This sense of being a misfit became embedded in my psyche. My weight — and breasts — have fluctuated wildly over the years as my anorexia has come and gone. What hasn’t changed is my disdain for my breasts. If I could have a breast reduction I would. Looking at them in the mirror is like looking in a fun house mirror. Two huge orbs attached to matchstick limbs. I hate them. I’m uncomfortable having them attached to my body. Even with current, more diverse lingerie options, the idea of bra shopping has forever been tainted for me by my early experiences at Victoria’s Secret. I’ve had numerous bra fittings and have spent so much money buying bras that are supposed to fit me perfectly, but no matter how miraculous they say the bra is, it sucks. It’s uncomfortable and I won’t wear it. And I’m embarrassed at how much time I’ve spent in therapy talking about my boobs, bras and my constant dilemma of wanting to learn to love my body as it is while simultaneously feeling betrayed by it. I don’t know what the ultimate solution is, but this documentary certainly triggered this long term- trauma that is embodied by my boobs. I wonder how many other women are out there who suffered from the toxic objectification that Victoria’s Secret represented. I’m sure there are many, as is evidenced by the pressure on the company now to evolve. They have attempted to save face by incorporating models, mannequins, and inventory reflecting humans with breasts of all shapes, sizes, genders, and abilities. But is it too little too late? Maybe. As for me, I suppose I can take some solace in the knowledge that I never financially contributed to a corporation that aided and abetted the sexual exploitation of women and children. I’ll have to settle for that.

    Community Voices

    What's the hardest part about working out for your health?

    <p>What's the hardest part about working out for your health?</p>
    140 people are talking about this

    How Baking and Dessert Can Help Combat Food Trauma

    In a lot of diet culture-related media, you often see ads targeted toward not having dessert. Either that or the dessert advertised is low in whatever Instagram and fatphobic dieticians have decided to rage war against. Dessert was supposed to be “bad,” and I think for a lot of people it gives them a lot of anxiety to this day, but for me, it’s the opposite. Dessert has been my saving grace against my eating disorder and my food trauma. If you aren’t familiar with it, food trauma is exactly what it sounds like. It’s trauma pertaining to food, whether it be the consumption of, physical foods, you name it. This can be the result of abuse, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, etc. It’s a specific form of trauma that really makes life difficult because you need to eat to survive. Personally, my food trauma creates a barrier between me and trying new foods. If I’m pushed to try a new food when I personally am not ready, I get very anxious. On top of that, if I’m eating and get full, I have a tendency to sometimes binge eat and force myself to keep eating even when I don’t want to. That stems more from my specific food trauma versus any kind of binge eating disorder. When society is telling you that cake, cookies, ice cream, etc., are “bad,” it’s obvious to create a complex around that specific food group, but for me, it never happened. Dessert is the one food group that I feel completely safe and happy with, and it’s because I have marginally positive memories relating to them. Some of my favorite bonding moments when I was younger were spent making cakes before school with my mom and brother and seeing the joy on everyone’s face when I would bring fresh baked goods to school or work. I love dessert so much, that I even worked for a few years in an ice cream shop, happily. To this day it was one of my most rewarding jobs because of the sheer amount of creativity and fun I could have with it. I created happiness and was able to share it with others, and for someone who is mentally ill, that was everything. Baking, when my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) allows me to do it, is one of my greatest weapons against my food-related trauma (and mental illnesses in general). In therapy, I used to work on creating new memories as a way to overcome things, places, and people that had a negative or trauma-related association with them. I went years without watching certain shows or listening to music that I once enjoyed all because of the trauma component attached. For me, baking, and the art of doing so, was my way of combating my negative associations with food. Learning the science of baking, keeping the measurements perfect, and learning different piping and baking styles all worked well with different parts of my mentally ill brain, but nothing quite compares to the sheer joy I would get when I tasted my buttercream (which I’m this close to trademarking because I do make the best buttercream in the world), and when I got to share it with others. Food became a source of joy, helping build and bridge the community around me. Whenever I start feeling off due to my food trauma, I’m usually one baking session away from a mental reset. All things are possible through a good buttercream (but not fondant because fondant is actually the worst), including healing. Rewriting negative narratives into positive ones takes a little bit of time, but I know for a fact it can be done whenever I pull my oven mitts on.

    A Nude Beach Was the Best Vacation for One Woman With Body Dysmorphia

    I feel as if you were to ask any person who has lived with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia what places they dreaded going to the most, what may be top on that list is the beach. The beach is a very public space where everyone’s bodies are being shown off. How many ads do we see for the “perfect summer bod,” that makes us look at our own bodies, immediately making us realize what’s “right” and “wrong” about them. On top of that, shopping in general can be hard if you struggle with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Let’s not even get started on how triggering bathing suits can be. All that being said, I love the beach. I used to hate it, but now I think it’s literally one of the best places to go. When my best friend proposed going to a nude beach instead of a typical clothed one, I didn’t know how I felt. After all, I’ll be naked in front of strangers and at that point I struggled with being naked alone. The sheer idea filled me with anxiety, and that’s why I immediately said “Let’s do it.” Within days, we were on the road to a nude beach in Florida. I wore the old bathing suit I had from years prior just in case, but that didn’t stop my stomach from flipping and turning the whole time. What if everyone stares at me when I get there? What if they see all the self-perceived flaws I had? I had worked so hard to be “weight restored” and yet is it really going to amount to anything? An hour later we parked, and walked onto the beach. I kept my eyes on the ground as we set up camp for the day, and then the time had come. I threw my clothes off with reckless abandon just so I could get it over with, and then there I was – butt ass naked on a huge beach around strangers. Slowly I tore my eyes away from the ground and that’s when I realized no one gave a shit. Everyone is naked. No one is looking. Except me, that is, but not in a creepy way. I was looking at all the different bodies. Big ones, small ones, cellulite, bone, integrated and segregated in the most beautiful and affirming way. There weren’t any push up bras or FaceTune to obscure reality. It was weird. I expected the whole experience to be polarizing and crude in it’s own unique way, and yet it wasn’t. I didn’t feel beautiful, sexy, or any of the adjectives you try to feel on the beach. I felt the absolute best I’ve ever felt – normal. I laid out, cheeks towards the sun and soaked up the rays happily and for once not thinking about my body. I ate without a thought, pranced in the ocean, and just vibed out without any personal awareness of my physicality. Going to a nude beach affirmed me in ways affirmations, podcasts, and Tik Toks could never. There’s something so special about being surrounded by all different body types, with no one trying to suck in for photos or pose to accentuate some features over others. If you’re up for it, and I understand if you aren’t, I’d highly suggest giving it a try when you get a chance. You expect all the attention to be on you, but it’s not. A key part of living with body dysmorphia is looking at everyone else constantly. Here, not only do people not do that, but you won’t want to do that unless you want to see something the FCC would censor out on TV. I thought a nude beach would be a nightmare for someone who lives with body dysmorphia , when in reality it was genuinely a dream come true and I can’t wait to go back.

    Community Voices

    A Snapshot in Time

    All it took was seconds and for my niece, it was a typical photo and second nature to quickly snap a photo of an encounter to remember. Little did she know what it actually was and proved to represent for me. As someone with both lifelong #AnorexiaNervosa and #BodyDysmorphicDisorder , photos are something to be avoided. Throughout the years, I could count the number of photos I’ve personally appeared on my hands, striving to avoid most of them. On the rare occasion a photo is snapped of me, often a personal judgmental dialogue ensues. Though at this particular moment, in celebration of my 34th birthday, with a beautiful cake placed in front of me, surrounded by my 7-year-old niece, Mom and sister, my niece rushed to grab her iPad to quickly document the moment. Without much time to say no and shield myself, she snapped the photo of all of us together; the first photo we all appeared in together in the years my niece has been alive. It was a moment that when I looked at the photos my niece took, symbolized sheer love and served as a revelation.

    Though I still am a work in progress, that moment for me represented growth as I sat with the torrent of emotions funneling through my mind. In a way, I was proud to have sat with those anxious worries of how I’d appear in the photo, choosing instead to focus on how beautiful documenting that moment actually was. Serving as the first photo of generations of women gathered together, it was a pivotal moment and one I knew would be filed away in my mind as a “snapshot memory,” one to be forever cherished and regarded. With my niece, snapping photos became a safe place, thereby freeing me of my fixation on chastising my appearance. That moment was not about my appearance, or self-image, but rather it was about commemorating a moment of togetherness, of love, of family and of my pride in the presence of those I love. It was a commemoration of 34-years of my tumultuous life coming full circle, facing my fears and powering through the difficult moments.

    Life for me still and probably will always be an endless work in progress, but as long as I’m still moving, still trying, still putting one foot in front of the other, still standing, it is worth the effort. To some, a photo may be just a photo, but to me, it is a sign of growth, of vulnerability and of my desire to confront the self-defeating flood of thoughts within my mind. The photo was about choosing life over isolation, over disconnecting and hiding; the photo was about stepping forward into the unknown and accepting I would be okay, no matter the outcome.

    At that moment, I wanted to teach my niece Brielle that while we can still experience fear within us, we can step forward anyway, quieting those worries and realizing our internal strength is much greater than what holds us back. Staring at the photo Brielle snapped of the women within our family circle, I stared not at the flaws of my face and body, but rather at the generations of women before me, focusing on the love and compassion between us and the remarkable ways in which we can heal.

    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    ADHD, normal puberty or too much stress?

    I'm so confused at this point. I don't know, if my traits and symptoms come from undiagnosed ADHD, puberty or the years of too much stress. The thing is, stress won't get much better for the next 3 years because I'm going to move out to be able to dance more and still graduating school (I'm 16 yrs old). I'm book smart and never had issues with that, but I struggle with always coming late (poor understanding/sense of time...) forgetting that my friends and family existif don'tseeing them, sensory overload and hyperacusis, and putting away my technical devices (but I don't have any withdrawal-symptoms, so no phone/netflix/instagram/tiktok/Youtube addiction, I think it's more something about dopamine). Also setting priorities, making decisions, and a lot of oversharing. I get distracted by everything, constantly losing important stuff and throwing things on the floore by accidents, am still not able to eat/drink completly without spilling or making a mess, always assume that people are honest with me so usually don't get sarcasm right away, super empathetic and struggling to differentiate between my own and others feelings, I love stimming but it could be my body trying to release stress. I'm and always have been very hyperactive verbally and my mom wanted to send me to an therapist/coach when I was 8 yrs old because she got overwhelmed with my temper tantrums (or was I just confused by the loud, fast world?) but didn't.
    The stress I'm experiencing comes from dealing with school, perfectionism and intense ballet training since 5 years. The ballet-bubble has some very ugly sides.

    What if it turns out, that I'm just a typical teenager who is overwhelmed by everything(like the most)? Who has a lot of potential (A LOT) but got just so screwed by puberty and not having enough discipline to push trough it, that it get lost? I struggled with disordered eating (still, but it's getting better), self harm and bodydysmorphia. I'm super scared of hurting myself again because I know that I'm super capable of that.

    That question remains, puberty, ADHD or stress overwhelm? Or a combination?

    PS.: sorry for grammar and spelling mistakes, I'm not fluid in English.
    #confused #MightyQuestions #SelfDoubt #Neurodiversity #ADHD #Stress #Anxiety

    6 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    How People With Body Dysmorphia Are Negatively Impacted by BBL Culture

    Years ago I wrote a story called “Black Girls Get Eating Disorders, Too.” It detailed my struggle with body dysmorphia and eating disorders due to a certain nuanced stigma specifically associated around Black women’s bodies. What I didn’t say was at the time I was casually and secretly looking into body surgery. Being 26, I was raised during Y2K skinny culture, then as I hit puberty the narrative started shifting and the “ideal body type” (gag) changed from super skinny to curvy hourglass. Songs, media, influencers, and celebrities reinforced this “slim thick” body type. They started getting surgery to gain it without being transparent, claiming that they worked out and that’s how they gained their curves. The goal for a lot of people became gaining that perfect peach booty and companies told you how – eat these foods, do these leg day variations, waist trainers, teas, detoxes, lollipops, the list goes on. If all else failed, there was also the elusive Brazilian butt lift (BBL) surgery. Some people could afford the expensive surgery here in the United States, but other people decided to travel to other countries to get more affordable surgeries. Then there were people who were so passionate about having a snatched waist and “fat” ass, that they resorted to backyard surgeries that are potentially life-threatening. Cardi B detailed how dangerous and painful her illegal butt injections were . In July 2017, a woman in New York was killed by her botched butt injections. In March that same year, a phony Florida doctor was charged with manslaughter for the same thing. I remember back then, getting a BBL seemed like a solution. I would look at myself, only to look at undisclosed BBL bodies yearning for that specific look, but I couldn’t afford a trip to Build-a-Body, so my body image-related depression worsened. For the record, I want to note I’m not anti-surgery. You should be able to do whatever you want with your body. Go forth and get that nip-and-tuck or stay natural. Your body, your choice. That being said, I do firmly believe there’s a direct correlation between my body dysmorphia, society’s love of ass, and my consideration of going under the knife before my body had even “fully” developed. However, I’m nervous when I think of young folk whose bodies haven’t developed completely into adulthood, making decisions like that based on societal trends that will shift and change, only to serve as a reminder that you will never be good enough. My consideration of going under the knife wasn’t because I really hated myself, but rather that I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” in the eyes of the world. I thought no one would think I was attractive if I didn’t have that boom bam booty. The problem isn’t openly promoting body enhancement surgeries. It’s lying about them, or making people feel that they are lesser than unless they have one specific body type. It’s damaging for a lot of people, especially the body dysmorphia and eating disorder crew who already struggle with body image issues. Like I said, I’m pro-choice in every way and that includes surgery, but when you’re a celebrity or influencer with a large following and you’re not honest about a body type you’re capitalizing off of and pushing, you are actively harming people. Go get your surgery and live your best life, or don’t and rock what your mama gave you. Love what you have or take that power and make it what you want, but make sure it’s actually what you want, and not what you feel you should have in order to be valid and worthy in the eyes of others.