Years ago, I watched a video about a girl struggling with anorexia. She looked in the mirror and saw that she was a chubby, overweight girl. When the camera panned out, it showed that she was actually just skin and bones.
I felt bad for her, but I didn’t connect to the video on a personal level. “The difference is that I’m actually fat,” I said to myself.
At a healthy 180 pounds (for my tall statue), I stopped eating because I was thought I was fat. I not only struggled with anorexia, binge-eating, and general restricting, I also struggled with body dysmorphia like the girl in the video and I didn’t even know it.
At 160 pounds, my skinniest, fitting into a size medium, I’d look in the mirror and think I was 100 pounds heavier than I was. My calorie intake was extremely small and I’d try on clothes at least one size too big and I’d buy the next size up from that because I felt so fat and when I looked in the mirror, the clothes literally looked tight on me.
Now that I’ve gained some weight back, I’m probably a size 14 and L/XL, but I pick out clothes that are 2x or 16/18. I know other people notice, like my husband and sister-in-law encourage me to wear clothes that aren’t so baggy, but I can’t. It’s so unbelievably difficult.
My struggle with body dysmorphia limits how much I can enjoy things. Some days, I feel great. Other days, I want to peel my skin off because I am so uncomfortable. I can’t wear tighter fitting clothes on those days or I feel I can’t breath and end up in a crying fit in the bathroom. On really bad days, I’ve even ripped the clothes off my body because they felt so tight, but they weren’t.
My husband doesn’t understand and is shocked when I point out a person or celebrity that I believe is the same size as me. “Samantha, she’s easily 50 pounds heavier than you,” he said one night when I said I was the same size as the mom on American Housewife. I’m looking at photos of her as I write this and I still think I’m the same size as her. I also think I am the same size as Ashley Graham, Adele, Ana Laura (model), Melissa McCarthy, etc. while I’m realistically related to the size of celebrities like Christina Hendricks…or honestly, it’s hard for me to even accurately judge some days.
I’m not the only one, it turns out it’s pretty common and most women suffer from some form of body dysmorphia. It can be something as small as picking a part of your body you dislike and focusing on it obsessively.
I do my best, but I try to not think about it or not focus on clothes or fashion or look in the mirror too long, or look at photos of myself because it’s easy to get triggered and fall into an unhealthy pattern.
My family is doing a healthy living weight-loss challenge and that’s been an emotional struggle all on its own.
I know it started in my past, my growing brain being trained by an abuser to think I was bigger than I was; obsessing over my size while I was in elementary school. Most days I don’t have hope that I’ll ever escape this. Other days, I have faith that God will help bring me out of this mindset and realize that I am his masterpiece, perfectly designed.
I have no words to wrap up my post today, no bible verses, or happy ending of me overcoming this, because it’s so constant. I imagine what I go through can be relatable to AA/NA. Once you have an eating disorder, you always have an eating disorder.