Hello, Body Dysmorphia. It’s Me, Love.
I don’t feel like myself today. I’m trying on outfit after outfit, crying because I feel bloated! My clothes don’t fit right, and because of this I see myself through a different lens than I normally would.
It’s hard for me to share how I feel with anyone else because I get the look — the one that starts with the eye roll and progresses into the stare and then the huff. It’s almost always followed up with a Yeah, okay, sure you do or Puh-lease, I wish I looked like you.
Conceptually, I know I am not overweight. I am a nutritionist, and maintain an incredibly healthy lifestyle, but I wonder why my mind doesn’t get that memo sometimes. Transformations of any sort are a process, one in which patience and understanding is essential. In my opinion, the physical transformation is the hardest.
It’s not because I basically eye-molest any pastry that comes within 10 feet, or sit like a zombie in front of the TV, drooling excessively while watching The Food Channel. I mean, I do those things, but those aren’t the reasons I think it’s so difficult. It’s because no matter how far I get on my physical journey, my mind still sees that awkward 11-year-old girl being made fun of in the schoolyard.
According to WebMD, Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a distinct mental disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see. As a result, people with this disorder see themselves as ugly and often avoid social exposure or turn to plastic surgery to try to improve their appearance.
How do I define it? Total mind fuck! Seriously, it’s not easy to feel good one minute, then not want to leave the house the next. To have men hitting on you and women complimenting you, only to have that one nasty stare put you back into your shell. Add to that the barrage of eye rolls and huffs and puffs when you actually do get up enough courage to express how you feel and… disaster!
See, by society’s standards, I’m fit, and because I am fit, I am not allowed to feel this way. That’s not me saying that, that comes from other people I have expressed my feelings to. They look at me and see who they would like to look like, and because of that, I can’t have legitimate feelings of inadequacy. Think about that for a moment! We live in a society where you have to fit a certain stereotype in order to be able to feel less about yourself.
I’m going to share a story with you. A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Deepak Chopra and being on a show that was premiering on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Each contestant had to submit the one question they would ask Deepak when they met him on the show, and were chosen based on that question. The show was called Help Desk. The premise was that Deepak would help people by answering their questions.
There is so much more to tell about this experience, but the purpose of this story for this article is about the woman behind me.
She was what the media would consider the most beautiful woman. She was the perfect height, size, skin color, outfit, hair (the Kim Kardashian kind) — you name it! And personality? Just as perfect. So it befuddled me to no end as to why she was there.
When I found out what her question was, my heart broke. She asked Deepak how she could love herself more. She had such horrible self-esteem, and had no idea how to send herself the love everyone else was giving her. So here I am, my Medusa-like hair expanding with each increased degree of humidity, wondering what this perfect female specimen had to ask, only to find out she was just like me.
We often have perceptions (these are opinions, not reality, please never confuse the two) about how others should feel, just because they look a certain way. We are all human, and it’s our own insecurities that make us do this. Recognizing that everyone goes through something allows us to extend compassion instead of judgment.
As a motivational speaker, it is not always easy to admit that I also have these moments, but these moments are also the ace in my pocket! Let me point out the most important word in that sentence: moments. That’s all these are now. When you begin to truly love yourself, you allow yourself to have these moments because (a) you are human, and (b) this too shall pass. These moments are the ace in my pocket because they allow me to truly relate to others and how they feel.
If I can’t be honest and true to others about how I feel, then I am doing both them and myself an injustice. Going through an extreme physical transformation myself, I’ve come to realize that the mind sometimes doesn’t transform at the same speed. It reminds me of that one kid who stays behind when the soccer game is over. You call and call and call to him, but he’s way too busy smelling the flowers to answer you! Recognizing the mind does this is the first step to healing.
I truly love myself and am grateful for where I am, a process that has taken many years, and as you can see, is never-ending. So when these moments happen, I send myself compassion and love. I allow myself to feel the feeling, do my best to live in the moment, and allow it to pass because… it always does.
Allowing yourself to feel the feeling and letting it pass lets you have control over your thoughts and your life. Dwelling in it only makes you the victim. We are not victims when it comes to how we choose to live our lives. While it is true we don’t always have control over what happens to us, we do have control over how we respond to it. Our lives are filled with choices, one of which is how we handle the moments.
Do not mistake a temporary feeling for a permanent emotion!
Remember one important thing, you are not alone when you feel this way. The world is made up of beautiful people with distorted perceptions. The more love we give to ourselves, the more love we have to give others. The more love we give others, the more we accept one another for who we really are. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
Be kind to yourself and to others! I promise you: this too shall pass.
Jennifer L. Mezzio is a certified Yoga instructor, energy healer and life coach. In addition, she is a certified nutritionist and bodybuilder. Jennifer believes in the mind-body-spirit connection, and makes it her life’s passion to motivate and inspire others. She is currently in the process of starting a 501(c)(3), which will help raise self-esteem and self-confidence in victims of bullying. Jennifer lives by the mantra “There is no greater gift in life than giving back.” You could contact her via Balanced Wellness and Nutrition.