One thing that I’ve disliked as long as I can remember is the fold in my skin between my armpit and my arm. A mere inch of my skin has bothered me for over 10 years and often kept me from wearing certain tank tops in the summer. What!? And telling myself to get over it never helped so I had to accept it and learn to love it. Loving your body takes effort and maintenance but it is entirely possible. Last summer I didn’t let that fold of skin keep me from wearing anything and eventually I stopped worrying about it. Victory!
I had heard the term, body dysmorphia, as a young teenager but never understood what it actually was until last year. It seemed to mean people looked in the mirror and saw a completely different person. I wasn’t crazy, I knew what I looked like and therefore all my issues were real. But one day I came across a photograph from a few years previous and was stunned by what I looked like. I never recall looking that way. I decided to experiment and found the dress that I was wearing in the picture and put it on. I was certain the dress wouldn’t fit but it did. I looked in the mirror and I looked awful. I looked at the picture and I looked fine. While I have no idea if my weight is different from what it was then (most likely, because I tend to fluctuate) it’s important for me to remember that the dress fit. It wasn’t bursting or uncomfortable. This instance forced me to reconsider my previous understanding of dysmorphia.
I’ve come to accept that it is simply that a person doesn’t see themselves how they actually look, making it ridiculously difficult to ever be satisfied, let alone confident in their own skin. This sounds like many people that I know. Accepting this meant there wasn’t anything wrong with me physically, and if there wasn’t anything wrong then that meant I might have to like myself for what I was, which is terrifying when you hate yourself. But as I said, this takes effort.
After reading up on body dysmorphia I discovered that many people who have it get to the point where they would rather suffer from it than be persuaded they don’t have any physical flaws to fix. That sounds an awful lot like what I was going through and the more I read the more it fit into my experiences with negative self-worth and depression.