Why Do I Hate My Body
You’re at the grocery store when someone makes a snide remark about how fat you are. Or maybe it’s that you don’t like what you see in the mirror or in pictures taken by a friend. You feel overweight, ugly or otherwise flawed. And no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get rid of this feeling. It doesn’t help that there are so many people out there who look great but also happen to be thin, and they often inspire envy or even hatred toward those who aren’t as healthy.
If you’ve ever felt like any one of these things (or all three!), know that you’re not alone — millions of Americans experience feelings of inadequacy around their bodies every day. But if you find yourself constantly hating parts of your appearance, whether it’s your belly, legs, thighs, arms or chest, chances are good that you might have body dysmorphia, an abnormal negative attitude about your physical form.
Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition characterized by intense emotional distress over perceived flaws in your appearance. People with body dysmorphia tend to obsess over their weight, shape and size while comparing themselves unfavorably to others. They spend hours online searching for photos of models, actresses and other celebrities whose physiques they wish they had. Then they’ll go through magazines looking at pictures of celebrity-sized women. Sometimes they will make drastic changes to their diet and exercise regimen in order to improve their appearances. But most often, they won’t be able to shake the negative thoughts that come up again and again.
The causes of body dysmorphia are unclear. Some experts believe that it could stem from childhood experiences such as teasing, bullying or trauma, while others say genetics plays a role. The exact cause isn’t important; what’s crucial is figuring out ways to cope with the symptoms and getting the treatment you need to live comfortably. Read on to learn more about body dysmorphia and why some people become consumed by it.
What Causes Body Dysmorphia?
People who suffer from body dysmorphia typically seek reassurance about their looks from sources such as friends, family members, coworkers, strangers and the media. This constant focus on imperfections leads them to try numerous different strategies to change their appearance, including diets, plastic surgery, liposuction and injections. In addition, they sometimes take drugs such as steroids to enhance muscles or fillers to augment facial features. When none of these methods work well enough, they may turn to extreme measures, such as amputating limbs or dying their hair color white.
While some people may use these tactics to enhance their appearance, others engage in behaviors that actually hurt their bodies. For example, people who suffer from eating disorders (such as bulimia) often starve themselves to lose excess pounds only to binge eat later when they’re stressed or depressed. Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs may drink or use substances excessively to calm down or relieve stress. Both types of behavior can lead to serious medical problems, which can further aggravate body dysmorphia.
Many people who develop body dysmorphia are young adults. While the disorder has been reported across age groups, men and women under age 30 are most likely to develop it. Women in particular are prone to developing body dysmorphia during adolescence because of cultural pressures to accept certain beauty standards. These standards dictate that girls should be thin and physically fit, while boys shouldn’t appear too “macho.” As a result, many girls try to meet these unrealistic expectations, often leading them toward eating disorders.
In addition to the culture we grew up in, body dysmorphia usually develops after experiencing a traumatic event such as sexual abuse, assault or divorce. Other triggers include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, major life events and chronic illnesses. If you think that you may have developed body dysmorphia, talk to a therapist or doctor, especially if you experience suicidal tendencies.
Now that you understand what body dysmorphia is, read on to discover its effects and learn how to recognize signs of the disorder.
Signs of Body Dysmorphia
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when body dysmorphia begins, since each person deals with his or her own unique set of circumstances. However, there are several telltale signs that point to the possibility of having body dysmorphia.
Obsession: Many people who have body dysmorphia obsess over their appearance. They may compare their bodies to images found online, in magazines and on television. They may obsessively check Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what their friends are posting. They may keep track of what celebrities wear and how much they weigh.
Negative Self-Talk: Overly critical inner dialogues can contribute to body dysmorphia. A person may complain about his or her body to everyone he or she comes into contact with. He or she may ask questions like, “Am I fat?” or “Is my skin wrinkled?”
Preoccupation With Weight Loss: Someone suffering from body dysmorphia may devote significant amounts of time trying to lose weight. He or she may join a gym or start exercising regularly, yet still end up gaining more weight than before.
Self-Harm: People with body dysmorphia may harm their bodies in various ways. They may cut their wrists or attempt suicide. Others may injure themselves repeatedly until they receive medical attention.
Avoidance of Physical Contact: Some people with body dysmorphia avoid social interactions altogether because they fear being humiliated by others’ reactions to their appearance.
Avoiding these activities helps alleviate the obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors associated with the disorder. Learning coping skills such as relaxation techniques and cognitive therapy can also reduce unwanted thoughts and behaviors.
Read on to find out how to overcome body dysmorphia once and for all.
Coping Skills for Coping Skills
One way to deal with body dysmorphia is to confront your issues head-on. Talk to a counselor or therapist, and consider taking medication to treat the underlying problem. If you’re struggling with another mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder, medications used to manage mood swings may also ease your body dysmorphia symptoms. Seek support from loved ones, and remember that you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with similar issues every day.
Once you’ve begun recovery, follow a few simple tips to maintain your progress. First, make sure that anyone who sees you without clothes (especially children) knows where to find emergency clothing and money. Also, avoid wearing tight-fitting tops and bottoms. Loose, comfortable clothing allows you to move freely. Finally, always put your best foot forward. Make small adjustments to your wardrobe and hairstyle choices to create a better overall impression.
Taking steps to address the core issue behind your body dysmorphia can help you regain control over your life. Now that you’re armed with information, you can tackle the challenges of body dysmorphia and begin living a healthier, happier life.
For more information on treating body dysmorphia, please visit the links below.
Although body dysmorphia affects both sexes, research suggests that women are more susceptible than men to developing the disease. One reason could be that women are generally more aware of their appearance than men are. Another factor could be that women are judged more harshly by society for their appearance, making them more vulnerable to negative comments and judgments.
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