Body dysmorphia is a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. The defect may be minor or imagined, but the person may spend hours a day trying to fix it.
I know body dysmorphia being a mental illness, has already put some of you off. As Nigerians, we are taught that the only people with mental ailments are those unkempt, half naked people roaming the streets aimlessly. Meanwhile 99.9% of our population are mentally challenged.
Everybody has that part of their body that they don’t like, we obsess over it, always trying to hide it, and if given the opportunity, we would change it at any cost. It could be that bow leg, knocked knee, flabby tummy, thighs, feet, head; the list goes on. This makes us so unhappy and insecure; it’s okay and normal to have that part of your body that you would love to change.
As humans, we are insatiable; we always want what we don’t have. We want more all the time; that’s how we are wired. But don’t ever let it define you, don’t think you are less than who you are because I believe you are a masterpiece, you are the only one of your kind; embrace it.
Trust me; I understand what you are going through because I have had Body Dysmorphic Disorder for as long as I can remember. For me, it was my whole body, like how do you hide your entire body?. I started seeing my body as a huge flaw when I was 6 or 7; I was always called names by peers, strangers and worse of all family.
The insecurity started by refusing to wear my regular clothes “because they were too revealing” what does a seven-year-old know about her body? You must be thinking, all I wanted to wear was a giant pair of jeans and an oversized shirt everyday to cover up my “ugly body”.
I started working out at ten years old (I dreaded working out), but I desperately wanted to lose weight. Then puberty came into play; it became worse from 12-18years. Puberty wasn’t a pretty colour on me; the hormones flying everywhere didn’t help either. Within that time, I battled depression, developed a terrible eating disorder where I refused eating which caused my ulcer, fought thoughts of harming myself and some other things I can’t mention now.
I had body dysmorphia to the extent where I won’t even glance at a mirror and never take pictures. I never believed in myself, I allowed people talk down at me and all of those things insecure people do.
How To Manage Body Dysmorphia
I have come very far, I have refused to let body dysmorphia get the best of my youthful age. I am still recovering from the eating habit, but I love my jiggly thighs, my bat-winged arms, fupa, love handles, muffin top, all of me because those qualities are what makes me who I am. I still want to change it, but I am not obsessing over it; I am not hanging my happiness on it. I am working out now not “to be beautiful” but to be healthy.
The secrete to getting better is surrounding yourself with positive energy, amazing friends and family who remind you how beautiful and phenomenal you are because sometimes we forget. Another thing that made me better is; I hold on to exceptional qualities that even I know that I possess: my mind, eyes, skin, hair, hands and feet, personality, and so many more.
So if you are going through something like this, I urge you to write down the qualities you admire about yourself. So whenever you feel blue about your body, just read it and remind yourself how unique, beautiful and amazing you are and don’t let body dysmorphia kill you. Those little quirks are what makes you who you are, embrace them and remember always to be nice to people around you.