Negative body image, or body dysmorphia, are large components of people who struggle with eating disorders.
However, there are MANY people who struggle with their body image and don't have eating disorders, or even mental illnesses. For those men and women who constantly struggle to feel at home in their body, I empathize so strongly with you.
I was talking about this with my boyfriend recently, who said something like, "as someone who's never struggled with body image, I'm so sorry you're going through this, but I can't say I understand it."
So, in an attempt to be vulnerable and hopefully resonate with those suffering, here is what having a bad body image or body dysmorphia feels like on a daily basis:
It feels like waking up and being disappointed that your body still looks and feels the way it did when you went to sleep.
It feels like your body can change drastically from day to day, or hour to hour. Sometimes you'll feel maybe alright, and the next you feel like someone inflated you with an air pump and there's no way that this is your body.
Bad body image makes your clothes fit differently than they did the day before, with no rhyme or reason, beyond how your brain is telling you to feel that day.
It means that you walk into a crowded place and you feel like everyone is horrified to see you, that they can't stop staring, and that every single person is judging the way you look.
It's a constant nagging, of feeling so uncomfortable, that you can't focus on anything else that's going on, the situation, or your friends and family.
It's always having to check your appearance in a mirror, windows of a building, or your phone to ensure that you're looking the same throughout the day, and not like the monster your mind convinces you that you are.
It's hating to do the wash, just in case something "shrinks" and your brain has another reason to tell you how disgusting you are if something fits a little differently while it's fresh out of the laundry.
It's a deep, clawing feeling, where you would rather rip your skin off than be out and about in your body.
It's increased anxiety and depression and isolation, as staying at home is easier than being out in public and having to feel like this.
Bad body image convinces you that it's a wonderful idea to wear long sleeves and pants or some combination of the two in the summer, despite the heat, because people would rather have you be hot than see your body.
It feels like a constant sense of unease that you can never truly be comfortable with who you are and how you look.
It's an acknowledgment of the other parts of yourself, but none of them seeming quite as important as your physical appearance.
It's a feeling of wanting to simply exist without a body, just your soul because then finally, maybe, you'd be comfortable.