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Dear Stranger

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Dear Stranger,

Can we talk about body dysmorphia this week? This is something that is so commonly overlooked, and I think it’s time I share my thoughts. I know I struggle with body dysmorphia, and it wasn’t until this past year that I realized how bad it was.

I was always super super tiny growing up. I was shamed for not having enough meat on my bones, and I never wished to be rail thin. Every single day I would wake up and check to see if my butt looked any bigger. If my ribs didn’t show anymore. My genetics, paired with my daily activities as a teenager, meant I could not put on weight. Trust me, I tried. I was training 5-6 days a week, lifting weights, climbing hundreds of stairs a day, and eating as much as I could. At age 15, my body was not capable of putting on weight.

I’m not here looking for empathy by sharing my story about being shamed for being skinny, either. This is just my story about how being shamed led me to my own body dysmorphia. Too tall, too short, too fat, or too skinny. They all have negative connotations attached to them, and are the reason for the beginning of so many people like me struggling with body dysmorphia every day.

After I stopped training at such a high intensity level, I didn’t really see a huge change in my body. I could feel that I was out of shape, but I was still super skinny. It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that I finally put on some weight. I was so excited that my waist size was going up, my ribs began to fade, and I looked at my butt in the mirror every single day, because I hoped that I would finally stop hearing the words... “well you don’t have much of a butt, but at least you’re pretty.” The words that made me feel like there will always be a piece of me that won’t be loved. Something that will simply just have to be overlooked.

I was putting on weight, and then we had to quarantine. I was making poached eggs and avocado toast, and salmon, and salads. I also started working out every day again. About 3 months later, I was looking at photos right before we went into lockdown and was appalled at how fat my face looked. I was 5’8 and 135 lbs at the time of the picture. The most I have ever weighed. I realized that my pants were a little loose now, but I didn’t notice a huge change in my body.

I went back to work after the lockdown, and decided to go back to school simultaneously. I was overwhelmed, and didn’t give myself any time to focus on what I needed. Over just a couple months, I dropped down to 117 lbs. I thought my scale was broken. I went to the doctor, and they told me they were concerned about my weight. I admitted I was usually busy and wouldn’t get around to lunch until about 1 or 2 pm. I hardly ever ate breakfast. I remembered how I had been my heaviest self just 6 months before, and I wondered if I’d ever be happy with my appearance. I couldn’t see the changes in the mirror each day and that scared me.

I had wanted to be a model when I was in high school, because people constantly told me I had the perfect body for it. Imagine that…”perfect body.” I told my mom that I would like to get back into it, so I started to do tons of research about current models. Out of curiosity, I started looking up the measurements of all of the current top models. Every waist size...24. Here and there I’d see a 25. I was defeated. “I’m not skinny enough,” I told myself. I tried to eat healthy, and I checked my measurements every day. Still a 26. All of my friends assumed I was a 24 because I seem so small, so it wasn’t until multiple people said “there’s no way you’re a 26,” that I became even more frustrated. It was one inch that I couldn’t lose.

I have never had a good grasp on what my body looks like to people. I have gone purely off of what people tell me. “You’re so tiny” and “your legs are so long.” Relying on what other people tell you, has got to be hands down the worst way to perceive yourself, but when you look in the mirror and see a girl who is too skinny one day, and too big the next, it’s hard not to. I obsess and I freak out. Do I look anorexic? Does my face look fat again? People would die to be told, “you should model,” so why am I complaining? I’m sharing this, so people know the effects of body dysmorphia. We all want what we don’t have, and it’s so easy to obsess over the little things in today’s world.

So unless you’re telling someone they look good, please for the love of god, just stop talking about other people’s bodies.

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