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Body Dysmorphia: My Experience and What I Learned

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Sep. 18 2018, Published 2:15 p.m. ET

According to body dysmorphic disorder specialist, Katharine Phillips, M.D., body dysmorphia “affects 1.7% to 2.4% of the general population — about 1 in 50 people. This means that more than 5 million people to about 7.5 million people in the United States alone have BDD.” Ten years ago I had this issue with my body and I began the process of trying to create the body I thought I should have.

I’ll be providing warnings and explanations as to where I was wrong with my way of thinking because I don’t want anyone to go through what I put myself through. It never gave me the chance to actually enjoy my teen years. I want whoever is reading this to sincerely learn to be happy with themselves.

Growing up as a kid, I was super super skinny. My family is Latino. Black and Latino families can definitely relate to the notion that your family wants you to eat. If you’re skinny, you need to put meat on those bones. Eating is also a form of family bonding and you should never deny your mom’s cooking.

Bam! Puberty!

After I hit puberty, the weight started coming on. When I was in high school, my young mind was susceptible to images in the media so when my hips, boobs and butt started getting bigger, I thought ‘oh my God. I’m getting FAT.’ And so the journey to get even skinnier began. I probably weighed about 115 lbs at the time which was actually not bad at 5’0. Then I hit 120 and I lost my damn mind.

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What they don’t tell you (in a NOT cheesy way) is that every BODY is different. I was pear shaped leaning towards hourglass. My body was still developing and I was sabotaging that process. I never took my personal, natural silhouette into consideration when I saw my weight. In short, your boobs and butt contribute to your overall weight. Before the Kardashians, pear-shaped and hour-glass bodies weren’t prevalent in mainstream ideal-standard-of-beauty media. I bought into this crap.

After a couple of years of exercise, not eating, and abusing laxatives (please don’t ever do this), I weighed in at 105 lbs. To give you an idea of my body dysmorphia, when I went shopping for prom I was looking through the sizes 12-14 section. When I asked for help choosing a dress and I was taken to the size 6 section, I thought the person attending me was doing it as a cruel joke.

Overall this experience taught me that body dysmorphia creeps in on you. It may start with negative thoughts of other peoples’ bodies, particularly of those in the media. We never think about it this way because being critical of those in the media is normalized behavior. We get comfortable judging who is pretty, who isn’t pretty, who looks better. But in the end, who are we to judge anyone that way? The more we think negatively about someone instead of acknowledging what makes them unique and beautiful, we’re actively bringing forth your own ugliness.

Dismantling negative thoughts about ourselves may not start with changing the way we think about ourselves. It may start with the way we think about others.

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