Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of one’s own appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it.
Yikes. Even Google’s definition of body dysmorphia is frightening. Have you ever looked at an old picture of yourself and thought, “Wow, I was so much thinner back then”, or “Yikes, I’ve gained so much weight”?
I know I have, and I stray from mentioning it out loud because it makes me cringe when others do the same. I find it so sad when people say how much better they looked “back then” – so why do I do it to myself?
My weight has fluctuated about 15-20 lbs from ages 16-23… But isn’t that normal for the most part? People joke about the “freshman 15”, but in many cases, the human body isn’t even fully developed until your early 20’s. So why do we act like it’s such a terrible thing to be heavier than your high school weight? My body has also been through numerous stages as an athlete and now a washed-up athlete who’s just trying to stay active. 🙂 My appearance changes little by little based on the types of workouts I’m focused on at the given moment. The number on the scale is just that: A NUMBER. Not to mention, there’s so many factors that go into your appearance in photos. Lighting, outfit choice, and posing. You can drastically change your appearance in a photo just by flexing, twisting, and turning in the perfect direction to create the illusion of a smaller waist, rounder shoulders, and more muscular legs. Remember that when you’re scrolling through an Instagram feed of people who seem “perfect”. 😉
Another funny thing about body dysmorphia is I look back on old photos and regrettably/shamefully think, “Oh, I used to be so lean!”, but at the time of the photo being taken, I was probably thinking about how far I had to go, how bloated I felt, how much leaner I wanted to get, and how much more weight I wanted to trim (cough, cough: see photos above). So if you’re not happy when you compare your current appearance to what you look like in old photos, but you weren’t happy at the time of the photo being taken, when will you be happy?
Looking back now, I realize body dysmorphia probably started at the beginning of my fitness journey. I was just trying to learn how to lift and maybe shed some fat in the process – but it all brainwashes you into believing you’ll be happier when you lose 10 lbs or can fit into a smaller size. News flash: You probably still won’t be 100% “happy” then. 🙂 I’m not near as lean, strong, or muscular as I used to be, but it’s cool because I’m happier now. I don’t obsesses over my body or the amount of calories that go into it. I don’t wake up every morning and analyze every inch of my body (seriously…I used to do that). It’s still a process, but I’m getting a lot better at just living.
We live in a state of “never satisfied”. In a sense, that’s a great thing. But when it comes to the appearance of your body… if you’re never satisfied, will you ever truly be at peace?
Think about that the next time you compare progress photos. Think about that the next time you look back on old photos from high school. Think about that the next time you have the urge to pick yourself apart and compare yourself to what you looked like in the past.