Body dysmorphia, it's a thing - Tactical Ninja
May. 3rd, 2016
02:48 pm - Body dysmorphia, it's a thing
It really is - it even has its own disorder label.
I don't have it. At least, not to the extent that it'd be called a disorder. That wiki entry talks about thinking you're severely flawed and taking exceptional measures and stuff like that. That's totally not me. But I think many of us do have pretty skewed visions of what we look like.
I mean, at it's most basic I'm always surprised how I look in photos because when I look in the mirror what I see is the mirror image of what I actually look like. When I see a photo, my face looks different from what I expect. I mean, I still recognise myself but it's just.. slightly off from what I think I look like.
Then there's the other part where women in particular tend to have a skewed idea of what their body looks like. We're taught from day one that much of our value is in how we look and that there's an ideal we're supposed to strive to meet, that's mostly achieved by judicious application of makeup and photoshop combined with having streak-o'-weasel-piss genes and some starvation thrown in for good measure. Basically it's impossible for most women to look the way we're told we should look if we want to be valued.
Anyway, being aware of this doesn't convey instant immunity, and most of us being more on the normal side in terms of fitting somewhere other than emaciated 'perfection' on the extremely broad spectrum of body shapes, we tend to see ourselves as, well, less than perfect.
So I think everyone thinks they have flaws, and certainly in my experience the view from above my nose down my body doesn't give me the most flattering perspective.
The upshot of this is that I look in the mirror and I see flaws. I suspect most of us do.
I'm athletically built, I know that. When I was at school I used to get called Anorexia as a joke. I was never that skinny, but I have prominent collarbones and a thin face and it makes me look thinner than I am - to other people.
Throughout my adult life I've weighed between 55 and 65 kilos. Last year in the middle of winter was when I made it to 65 - it's the heaviest I've ever been and I felt like a giant blob of lard.
OK, I can sense you all rolling your eyes and goint "WTF Tats?" and you're right. I have absolutely nothing to worry about. But this post is about skewed ideas of one's body and I'd like to point out that these kind of things are often relative. For someone who's been 55kgs all their life, being 65 is a 20% increase in body weight and that feels like a lot. It *looks* like a lot - to me, even though most people wouldn't even notice to look at me.
Bear in mind also that I spend a lot of time surrounded by dancers and circus performers, people who use their bodies a lot for doing hard stuff, and are both lithe and graceful. Unlike me-in-my-head. I'm a lumbering rhinoceros, in my head. At 65kgs, I'm a lumbering, self-berating rhinoceros who doesn't want to look in the mirror.
Stupid, right? Also, honest. I was looking in the mirror and unable to see my athleticism for all the flab that I know was mostly made out of skewed perspective, but somehow seemed real anyway.
So, long story short, I started eating for adrenal fatigue and shed 5kgs, and then another 2kgs, and now I weigh around 58kgs. The weird thing is that although I could see that I was looking a lot closer to how I think I ought to look, I was still seeing flabby bits and cellulite when I looked down or in the mirror and being all "FFS what the hell Tats? Why are you still a lumbering flabby rhinoceros?"
And then I decided to have some pics taken of myself doing pole for my birthday. Somewhere in the deeply-recessed logical part of my brain, I know I'm pretty tidy for a middle aged lady and I wanted to record that for posterity in case my penchant for overdoing things ends up preventing me from being active till I'm 100 as I want to be.
The thing I was not expecting to get from these pics was a better perspective on my body. Something about a photograph adds a layer of removal that you don't get when looking directly at yourself or in the mirror. Maybe it's the ability to see yourself from all angles without it being awkwardly twisted or something. Whatever it is, I looked at those photos and saw the reality. I am not covered in flabby bits and cellulite. And I'm not a rhinoceros either.
I look good. I look fit and healthy and graceful and all the things my brain tries to tell me I'm not, and it's been a bit of a revelation to me.
Today in pole class I looked in the mirror while doing exercises. I don't often do this because I'm afraid of what my brain will show me, but this time what I saw was closer to the photos than to my own skewed perspective. And I am amazed at what a wrong-headed view of myself I've been nursing all this time.
I don't know if it'll last but right now it's quite nice to have an objective reality check for my skewed idea of my own body, what it looks like, and what it can do. I think that was a very worthwhile exercise.
/self indulgent navel gazing