Recently we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to anonymously share what it is like living with body dysmorphia. Here are some of the rawest and bravest responses:
1. Feeling like a stranger in your own body:
"I barely weigh 100 pounds. Yet I still get redressed at least four times a morning because, to me, I feel gross and look so much bigger in these clothes than I actually am. I've cried countless times because I feel like a stranger in my body."
2. Not recognizing your body the next day:
"How is it? It's waking up everyday and your body looking different than the day before. It is never the same, and you are never truly happy with what you see."
3. Not seeing yourself how others see you:
"I have been watching 'My 600 LB. Life' and have realized that I relate so much to how those people feel. I feel stuck in my own body and so depressed. I can feel like I am a burden on my family, even though I only weigh 160 pounds. It's really sad because my boyfriend always tells me how beautiful I am, but in my mind, I’m ugly, fat, and a burden. It makes me so depressed."
4. Feeling like people don't understand what goes on in your head:
"Going through body dysmorphia for me is really hard. It’s like waking up and always hating what you see. It’s feeling like everyone in public is looking at you as something gross because of your body. Sometimes, it’s so debilitating that I can barely leave the house. Having parents who don’t really acknowledge that it’s a real disorder and legitimate fear makes it harder. You see people promoting self-love and acceptance, and it’s something you long for. It’s something I long for and once had. It makes you do bad things to your health and affects relationships."
5. Losing interest in activities with friends:
"Taking pictures with friends isn’t fun anymore. All you can do is obsess over how you’ll look in the picture."
6. Battling with the after effects of weight loss:
"In the last two years, I’ve lost about 120 pounds. I’m no longer plus-size, and although I know i’ve lost weight, I feel fatter now than I did when I weighed more. I still reach for a 3X shirt when I'm now a size medium. People always talk about how good you will look and feel when you lose weight, but nobody discusses the mental battle you go through and how you still feel 300 pounds."
7. Constantly changing things about yourself:
"A quick look in the mirror turns into me being unable to focus on anything for the next three hours. Trying to do homework is impossible as you keep going back to the mirror and checking to see what you look like, not liking your appearance, no matter how much makeup you put on or how you fix your hair. You pick at your skin and keep changing things to achieve a desired look and it lasts for hours with the outcome never being what you want."
8. Not feeling like you're real:
"Body dysmorphia is more than just hating the way you look. It’s when it begins to limit your enjoyment of life. Sometimes, I don’t want to leave my house or see anyone because of how much I hate the way I look. I feel like I don’t even look like a real person. It’s horrible."
9. Feeling like you see a distorted version of yourself:
"It’s hard to know what’s real. What I see, and what other people tell me, are so different that it becomes hard to know who to trust. I once showed a picture to my husband of a celebrity that I thought shared my body type and size, and he was astounded. He had no idea that my image of myself was so distorted. He didn’t understand how that’s what I saw and I didn’t understand how he could see anything else. We aren’t lying or trying to get attention when we say how we feel, we literally see something different in the mirror."
10. Having no concept of weight differences or your own body:
"I’ve been living with BDD for as long as I can remember. I remember doing body checks before I even hit puberty. The logical part of my brain knows I’m not overweight, but when I look in the mirror, all I can see is fat. I am frequently mistaken when I look at other people and think I look similar to them, only to find out they’re actually 40-50 pounds heavier than I am. I’m five pounds above the underweight marker for my height, but I still look in the mirror and see the potential to lose more."
11. Avoiding every opportunity to see yourself:
"Living with body dysmorphia is a constant battle of wanting to be confident and hating the body you’re in. I avoid pictures and mirrors, and when I do see them, I critique every inch of my body. I struggled with an eating disorder in high school and now it’s just straight binge eating. Won’t eat for days then I will engorge myself until I’m so full, I throw up. No matter what anyone tells me, I hate my body and never see what anyone else will."
12. Having some good days, but also some really bad days:
"A lot of people don’t understand that even though the number inside your pants says that you’re a size six, that’s not how you feel. I went on a weight loss program when I was 11 because I didn’t like the way I looked. I know now how detrimental that was for my mind, and I’ve always had an uncomfortable relationship with my body. I’ve also suffered with bulimia since I was 14. Some days, I’ll feel great about myself, and others, I won’t even look in the mirror because I hate the way I look. I never tell anybody about my BDD because when I do, they always say, 'How is that possible, you’re skinny,' because they don’t understand. I’ll never know what everyone else sees when they look at me because I see something completely different."
13. Positioning your body to 'present' it as you hope:
"I will barely leave the house except for work, and even then I wear all black and show as little skin as possible. I am always, ALWAYS thinking about how fat I am, and I will position my face and neck in a way where I feel like my clavicles are showing and my neck is as long as possible."
14. Realizing there is a mental and emotional disconnect from your body:
"I work out five times a week, eat a generally healthy diet, strive to get good sleep, work full-time, and am a good mom to my boys. And yet, when I look in the mirror I see failure in my lumps, bumps, dimples, and squishes. Over the years, I’ve lost and gained pounds, and I literally can never see a difference in the mirror whether I’m at/below/above my arbitrary weight goal. The disconnect between my logical thinking and the emotional part that drives me to hate what I see is depressing."
15. Feeling like you are eternally in a costume:
"It’s feeling like you are constantly in a costume, and no matter how much you try to take it off, you still see it in the mirror. It’s becoming obsessed with standing in front of a mirror for hours staring at the costume, just wishing it would fall off, and absolutely hating the fact that it won’t come off."
16. Obsessing over your looks:
"I find myself at three a.m. looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, 'Is this really what I look like?' I see myself as a lot larger than I really am. What helps the most is people telling me that I don’t look the way I think I do. Maybe one day I’ll find it in myself to get over the BDD. It’s crippling."
17. Becoming obsessive with the details:
"I have no idea what I look like. I constantly look at myself in mirrors, in my phone camera, windows, or any reflective surface. People think I’m vain, but I’m just trying to see how fat I look. I'm constantly checking how fat my upper arms look, how large my stomach is, or how large my legs are. When I see myself in pictures I feel shocked. I'm constantly starving, purging, binging, and anxious about what I’m eating. I'm always comparing myself to every person I see, asking my family, 'Is she smaller than me? Am I bigger than that?' Clothes look different on me, and my body changes shape minute to minute. I can put on an outfit and like how I look, then turn around and actually look like I’ve gained 50 pounds. I'm always aware of every piece of my body, at all times."
18. Not finding joy in social situations or relationships:
"It’s a daily struggle to find happiness in my body. I am not overweight by any means, but I find myself constantly hating my body even though it is perfectly fine. The most frustrating part is being an intelligent person, knowing you look just fine the way you are, yet your mind tells you 'nope, this is gross, fat, ugly.' I find myself constantly comparing myself to others and it completely takes over my mind and it’s difficult to control the thoughts. It makes social situations almost unbearable. I have a hard time enjoying myself because I’m constantly preoccupied with comparing myself to other 'thinner, better looking' women. It takes its toll on my nearly four-year long relationship. It’s hard for him to understand my thoughts when all he sees is someone who's beautiful."
19. And lastly, always attempting to hide parts of you:
"I was so preoccupied with every freckle and mole on my body that I would wear clothes that covered them up. This meant long sleeves and pants year-round. I still battle my disgust over my skin and have had many moles removed. At times, I felt like I was the ugliest person on the planet, so much so that I wanted to die. I used to sit in front of the mirror and examine my seemingly disfigured face for hours on end. Literally four or five hours wasted away in front of the mirror. I’ve crossed a lot of these hurdles as I’ve gotten older, but I still have the crushing fear that if I’m not attractive, I won’t be truly loved."