Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder
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    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.

    Community Voices

    How to Buy New Clothes When You Struggle With Body Dysmorphia

    If you know me, you know two things to be true: I love shopping and fashion and I have lived with severe body dysmorphia and various eating disorders for the better part of my life. No matter how much I love clothes and shopping, I simply couldn’t get past the mirror. Dressing myself became incredibly hard because I never knew if what I was seeing was fact or fiction – is this what I actually look like, or what my mind tells me I look like? After a while, shopping for clothes became so stressful that I stopped altogether. Throughout the pandemic, I became “weight restored” (I really don’t love that term but we’ll use it for now) and then some. Clothes that fit me at my sickest definitely didn’t fit me anymore, and that meant that my sense of self became even more distorted. Wearing clothes that no longer fit caused me excessive amounts of distress to the extent that I started losing sleep, so I bit the bullet and went to buy some clothes that fit the new body I worked so hard for. I took some precautions to prepare for this shopping trip, knowing how much I was mentally struggling, and it’s because of those precautions I had a mostly positive experience. If you’re in the market for new clothes because of an ever-changing body and relationship, whether it’s due to bodies naturally shifting and changing, weight gain, and/or weight loss, here are some tips to make it a bit easier 1. Measure yourself first and bring a tape measure when you go shopping I know this may be a little triggering, so hear me out. When you already struggle with body image issues due to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), trying on something that doesn’t fit can be severely triggering. For me, I hadn’t gone shopping in years and because of that, I had no idea what size I was. By measuring myself and writing down those measurements, I was able to measure out all the clothes before I put them on my body to get a close enough fit. Because of that, I actually got a perfect fit right away which made me cry. While you may not get a perfect fit right away, you’ll hopefully get a closer one so you’ll be more encouraged to keep trying things on, versus the opposite. 2. Make sure your body is “lived-in.” Bodies change throughout the day due to things like food and water intake, bloat, etc., I wanted my body to feel “lived-in.” An outfit may look a little different after you eat, and I noticed that my body dysmorphia is usually triggered when I look at myself post-meal versus prior. Choosing to eat and hydrate first meant that my body was “lived-in” versus if I had just woken up and gone straight to the store. Dress your “lived-in” body. It helps, trust me. 3. Use the buddy system. I called in a favor and asked my best friend who knew the battles I was facing to go with me into the stores. I asked her to “be my mirror,” which translates to “tell me if I’m in my head, or if this is actually how I look,” and it made the biggest difference. Having the extra set of eyes gave me an added boost of confidence that was needed to get through the day without crying. It’s hard to dress a body when you’re unsure of what it actually looks like. It was through these precautions that I was able to leave with four new outfits that I love. Honestly, I’ll probably follow these exact steps again the next time I go shopping. Body dysmorphia sucks , plain and simple, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Promise.

    Monika Sudakov

    How Endometriosis Absolved Me of My Guilt Over Not Procreating

    For as long as I can remember, I have had what I can only describe as existential dread over the idea of becoming pregnant. I’m not talking about the ramifications of actually having a child and what that would entail in terms of my path in life. I’m not even talking about the fear of changes within my body, like gaining weight — which, while scary for someone with body dysmorphia and a history of anorexia, is something that I could rationalize in terms of bringing a healthy fetus to term. No… what I’m talking about is something deeper. It’s something that ties to an underlying terror of losing autonomy over my body and having it not just taken over by a fetus, but by the overwhelming expectations of my mother. I know that having a child was literally the only thing she ever wanted. She desperately needed someone to love her unconditionally, to fill the gaping hole of insecurity within her that nobody else could seem to fill. As I grew up, my responsibility as her daughter became abundantly clear — find a good husband and give her a grandbaby. The weight of this expectation only continued to grow as I entered puberty and my mother began to comment on every aspect of my physical appearance and development. My body felt less and less like it belonged to me and more and more like an object that belonged to my mother first, my future husband second, and my eventual baby third. When I finally found that mythical husband and married him, the fuse to the ticking time bomb of my becoming pregnant and giving my mother grandbabies was lit and burning with an urgency that I couldn’t ignore. But I couldn’t get rid of the dread I felt within me. I’m not sure I can adequately explain it, but not only did I not want the constant attention my growing belly would get from my mother, but I also had a physical revulsion to the inevitability of her touching my tummy, baby talking to it, and otherwise invading my physical space bubble without my consent. In my mother’s eyes, not only was it her right to see me naked and touch me since I came out of her body, I knew that by extension of that perceived right, she would feel like she was entitled to caress my growing body because that baby would be coming out of my body (which came out of her body) thereby ascribing ownership of the entire corporeal network to her. It felt covertly incestuous even though it was not sexual, and frankly, I wanted nothing to do with it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, something else was growing within me which would eventually absolve me of the obligation to produce a grandchild for my mother — and that something was endometriosis. I had been struggling with symptoms since I was a teenager, and at the time birth control was the only treatment option they had offered. This bought me some time during the first few years of marriage. By our fifth anniversary, I had finally scheduled the diagnostic laparoscopy that would confirm that I had endometriosis. The surgery was scheduled for February of 2003. I didn’t tell my mother I was even having the procedure. I didn’t want the attention, pity, or barrage of questions about my future potential to procreate. After my surgery and diagnosis, the doctor told me that in his estimation the likelihood of my ever getting pregnant without fertility treatments was small. I felt like in that moment, he had adeptly deactivated that ticking time bomb of anticipation to get pregnant and had promptly disposed of it. I finally had an excuse to not give my mother a grandchild. When I did tell her about the diagnosis and the doctor’s prognosis, she still held out hope that by some miracle I’d still get pregnant. I didn’t argue with her, I just continued on my birth control regimen and wouldn’t discuss it. At the age of 36, I finally had a hysterectomy — a last-ditch effort to address my endometriosis, which for the most part did address my monthly flares during my menstrual cycle. More importantly, however, it made the discussion of babies and pregnancy a non-issue. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could sigh a deep breath of relief. I no longer had to keep making excuses about the time not being right or not having the money for kids, both of which were true but beside the point. The irony of this was that the day after my hysterectomy, my mother came over and followed me into my closet where I was naked and observing my swollen bruised belly which had been blown up like a balloon for my procedure. She instantly wanted to touch it. I pushed her hand away and told her to go away. Her reply? “It’s my right to see you naked, you came out of my body.” That was the last time I allowed her anywhere near me without my permission. While I can’t say that I’m glad I got endometriosis, I can say that in some small way it was instrumental in my being able to reject my perceived familial obligation without experiencing guilt. My body kept the proverbial score and settled it after a long, grueling match filled with blood, sweat, and tears. And the victory was bittersweet and empowering.

    Janet Coburn

    We Don’t Have the Right to Diagnose Public Figures With Illnesses

    This question comes up all the time, about all kinds of public figures and various sorts of disorders. Does Donald Trump have narcissistic personality disorder? Did Freddie Mercury have undiagnosed bipolar disorder? Do the Kardashians have body dysmorphic disorder? Does Joe Biden have dementia? Was Nancy Reagan codependent? Seven years ago, I wrote about Emily Dickinson. I said it is impossible to know whether Dickinson or any other historical personage had any psychiatric disorder and, if they did, what it was. Now I have basically the same thing to say about the “diagnoses” of public figures. It’s impossible to say whether any given celebrity — or indeed any public or private individual — has a psychiatric disorder unless that person has spoken about it publicly. We cannot assume, just from the little we know about another person, that they live with any given condition. This is true not just of psychological disorders, but also physical ones. In the past, it was easier to keep physical difficulties secret. Few knew that John F. Kennedy wore a back brace because of an old injury or that Franklin D. Roosevelt used a wheelchair because of polio. In many cases, it is only now that their memoirs or the memoirs of their friends have revealed these previously secret afflictions do we know about them. When it comes to psychiatric diagnoses, the difficulty is not that friends may or may not keep a public person’s secret, but that the public has no real right to know unless the celebrity is open about it. The relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient is confidential. Only the patient can give permission for the doctor to disregard that confidentiality. Lately, it has become common for political figures to endure public examination of their medical records and even psychological records. But this is by no means a requirement for a public office such as president. Really, a president of the U.S. only has to be over 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years, and get the most votes. And such scrutiny is hardly a requirement — completely irrelevant — for entertainers and athletes. Speculation about the private lives of public figures has reached the level of a sport. It seems that just because a person has achieved some measure of celebrity, their life is now an open book. Their fans (and detractors, for that matter) often want to feel they have a personal connection with the public figure. Many want to believe they know the celebrity better than anyone else. They may feel a kinship with the person because they have the same disorder the public figure supposedly has. But the most you can say about a public figure is that they show some behaviors that can be associated with a certain diagnosis — not that the person actually has that condition. Some celebrated sports figures and actors have been upfront about revealing their own and their families’ stories of psychiatric illnesses. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Glenn Close, Carrie Fisher, and Michael Phelps have let such conditions be known, in hopes of reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and encouraging others to seek help for their conditions. But I believe these people are the exception. Most people, both celebrities and the general public, struggle in silence. Basically, the only way to diagnose a person is for them to have an ongoing relationship with a psychiatrist or psychologist. A doctor who has spoken to the individual and spent time with them is the only person who can make that diagnosis. Even psychiatrists who testify at trials about the mental state of defendants may not have had any previous, personal contact with them. Yet their opinions help determine the fates of people they don’t really know. Public figures don’t belong to the public, whatever their fans or detractors may think. Their minds especially are their own. It is reckless, improper, and ultimately futile to speculate on a public or historical figure’s mental state, in my opinion. But people do so and will continue to, as long as there are celebrities and people who feel they have a right to analyze them.

    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    Sometimes I just want to burn all my clothes

    Sometimes I want to just burn all my clothes. I have sensory issues bc of fibro & being autistic, and sometimes I have body dysphoria issues bc I'm nb, and sometimes I just hate my clothes. Nothing's comfortable. I don't feel comfortable in anything. I feel like I don't look good in anything.

    I was anorexic for most of middle school/high school, but I got help when I was 15 ish and I've been in recovery since. It was hard but I've been in a good place for a while and then this kind of blind sided me. Probably hasn't helped that I spent the last 2 years in scrubs day in/day out, and the meds I started recently mess with hunger sensations.

    I think it's because I'm a size 14/16 now. I used to be 4 or so, then during earlier recovery a size 8 or so, then a few years later, a 12, and now I'm realizing I have a plus size body and I don't know how to dress it.

    No one gets it. Everyone is pushing me (and plus size folks generally) to loose weight anyway. Anyone else had similar issues? What do you do?

    #EatingDisorder #EatingDisorderRecovery #bodydysphoria #BodyDysmorphia

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    Community Voices
    Community Voices