Apparently, I have no idea what I look like. I’ve known for a while that I’ve had some issues with distorted body image, but I’ve recently realized that my problems are more than just not liking my own body… I really have no idea what it looks like. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) causes sufferers to perceive (often imagined) flaws as disfiguring. They can look at others normally, but will notice even the smallest blemishes on their own bodies. Another common manifestation of BDD (one which I am very familiar with) is excessive “grooming” (ie: plucking hairs, picking blemishes, etc).
To give you an idea of how bizarre BDD really is: Once I was looking at a picture of a group. I noticed that one woman’s body was very attractive and remarked “wow, she’s hot”. I was mortified when I looked at her face and realized that the “hot” woman was actually me. Had I seen my face before the rest of my body, I would have been disgusted with what I saw.
Every once in a while, I look in the mirror, forget who I’m looking at, and actually like what I see. But as soon as I remember who I’m looking at, I suddenly feel much heavier. Though I know my weight, I imagine myself as looking much larger than I am. When I see someone who I think looks about my size, I usually find that they are 25-150 lbs heavier than I am. On a good day, my guess is within 25 lbs… on an average day, I’m about 75 lbs off… and on a bad day, I apparently think I look morbidly obese.
By doctors’ standards, I am overweight. I am overweight by about 15 lbs… but I often wonder how much of that is my hair (I have 3 feet of hair) and my larger-than-average breasts (neither of which contribute to weight that I should worry about). I also have reason to think that a good amount of my weight is muscle. But either way, I’m at least somewhat overweight.
That being said, I am going to stop referring to myself as “fat”. I used to think it was okay to do so, since I’m technically overweight… but using the term “fat” hasn’t helped out my psyche in the least bit. The term “fat”, to me, has always been a comparison to others. I’ve always felt like the “fattest” person in my friend group, even when I was underweight. I thought I was being honest with myself, but constantly (subconsciously) comparing myself to others only makes my disconnect with my body worse.
“Fat” has also become a term of aesthetic judgement. I know for a fact that there are plenty of beautiful people who would be beautiful at almost any weight. But even taking “fat” merely as a term to describe a general build, I have issues with it. Given my problems with BDD, I may never know what I actually look like… so I’m really not at a place to judge whether or not I’m “fat”. My battle with weight should be about health, which is something I can judge, and not about looks. (Edit: Weight doesn’t always equal health (plenty of overweight people are much healthier than normal weight people), but my weight problems are exacerbating some health issues.) So, since my concerns are about my health, I’m going to stick to the term “overweight” and stop calling myself “fat”.