Growing up with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a body image disorder that causes persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one's appearance, is like growing up with blurry vision that no glasses could ever change.
Everyone has something he or she dislikes about his or her body growing up. But, not everyone goes to the extremes I did. To this day, BDD still severely affects my style choices and how public I make myself.
When I was a kid, I had a very tall and lean friend. She was a gorgeous kid and I was always comparing our physical appearances. When we were about five, I remember sitting in my bathroom thinking to myself "why am I not skinny like her? Why is my tummy so big? Why are my thighs touching?" When I look back at childhood photos, I am always surprised by my small frame.
I am the smallest in my aunt's wedding photo, as I was only five. But you can see, I was a very skinny kid. Defined chin, chubby cheeks only came about from smiling. But if you asked me then, I would have thought I was the biggest girl in the room.
I became picky and finicky with food almost from birth, but I really cared about what I was eating when I was about 10 or 11. That was when I started learning about food and how it would interact with my body. I was kind of tall for my age, 5'2". I was wearing a junior women's size two because I was too tall for children's jeans. And, Old Navy makes the best jeans, let's be real.
So, when I was 12, my parents divorced and I really turned into self-hate/harm and destructive behaviors. I was a size four at this point. I was in full blown puberty and I could not handle the rapid hormones taking over my body. I was constantly comparing myself to girls in the media and my classrooms. I was also bullied over my weight constantly from first grade up until freshman year of high school. I never thought I was good enough. I was 12, my hip bones were prominent and my chest was developing. I was a quicker developer than other girls in my class so that would cause them to ridicule me (#flawless).
When I was 13, I changed schools. I wasn't the biggest girl in the room, but I definitely thought I was. There were girls in this school with tattoos and belly rings and I was just a scene kid with a bad habit and half-blonde hair. It was weird. The bullying from other girls stopped for the most part, girls actually were nicer to me because I was well-endowed instead of picking on me for it. I was a size six during this time.
My freshman year at high school began and I was involved in the culinary program at the technical school I was attending. I also started birth control for my skin and period this year because I was missing school every month and that really counted against you in technical high school. So, I actually was starting to gain weight in ways that made me, um, curvy. I was now a size 10. I thought my life was over because I was a double digit size and became obsessed with losing weight. I stopped eating, I was purging. I was literally setting myself up for disaster.
I had an awful boyfriend at the time who always made comments about my weight and made me very self conscious. I didn't manage to lose much weight because it was mostly in my chest and hips, but I managed to stay a size 10. Still, that was detrimental to my BDD.
I was spending my time focused on the wrong things. BDD made me find creative ways to hide my weight no matter how much it fluctuated. I can tell you just what color sweater and what texture blends together perfectly when you sit down so it covers your NATURAL stomach "rolls."
I was not healthy in any way, shape, or form. My mental state was deteriorating as my scale was growing heavier and heavier. My friends banned me from the scales because it was causing more damage than anything. I was losing my grip on reality and almost flunked because my body image was more important. I was wearing big hoodies and leggings all the time because it covered my rolls and gave the impression that I wasn't secretly dying over my weight.
BDD is still impacting me to this day, as I write this I find myself yearning to be the weight and size I was when I was 14. I am 20-years-old, I should not look like a 14. I know that rationally, but do still wish for that goal weight I strived for.
BDD is just one thing that makes life hell. If you are struggling with BDD please know that the mirror is just lying about what is really there. You are beautiful despite any flaws you've created in your head. I know you're probably thinking, "well I have a big nose" or "my hips are too wide." You're failing to realize one thing: the "flaws" you hate make up you.
Your body is literally a temple and you can't hate your temple because you saw a better looking church. BDD is a real problem and we need to stop dismissing the signs. If you or someone you know is struggling with BDD please seek help of a licensed medical professional and remember one thing:
You have to embrace your "flaws" and realize you are #flawless.