How can I help my body image issues?
A stranger that stares back....
When it comes to body dysmorphia it really is like a stranger is staring back at you in the mirror. You don't recognise them and you don't understand why people perceive you in a completely different way to yourself.
My issues with body image started when I was bullied in primary school for being called "fat". I started looking in my mirror a lot.more and that's when the thoughts started and I slowly picked apart my body. I hated my legs especially and to this day I still don't like my legs. I used to measure my different body parts by using my hands, the less hands I could get around that body part the skinnier I felt. However this became an obsession and I started to loose who I was.
I hated the stranger looking back at me in the mirror, all I saw was a fat blob that was unlovable and a failure. This body image issue engulfed my life, the stranger got more potent and Emma became silent. I get asked a lot does this go away completely and I always answer "no". These thoughts are always in the back of my mind, the difference is I don't act on it anymore.. I have days where I feel gross, fat, ugly and the fact I am a personal trainer makes those thoughts worse on the bad days. The amount of times I have turned to Tom and say "I have put loads of weight on", "do I look fat today", "my legs are huge" and he always answers "no your not" "why are you being silly" "where is the evidence" and the truth is I don't believe him. I think he has to say that as he loves me, he knows what I went through and doesn't want to upset me.
People with body dysmorphia can sound like a track record that is on a loop. We need that reassurance by people to make us not go into a full on panic or stopping our brains from going into overdrive. When I have those days where I see a stranger looking back at me, I see flash backs of that scared, lonely and sick girl when she was 12 years old. The girl everyone bullied and the girl who hated her life.
I have learnt over the years that your with your body for a long time and why should you punish yourself for the way you are. I needed to train myself to start loving my quirks and all. We are all different, all unique and there is more to life than just the way you look. The hardest thing for me to watch people go through social media. When I was a teenager there was no tikTok, no Facebook or instagram and filters didn't exist. Social media warps people into a false sense of security. People strive to be there celebrities they see on social media, they want to look exactly like them, that's impossible as most (not all) celebrities have filters on their pictures and don't look like that in real life. Is this dangerous? As a short answer "yes". When I was at my worst I didn't have social media causing it, it stemmed from bullying and I nearly died. These people striving to get these 'perfect bodies' are setting themselves up for failure and when it comes to body image failure can be 'death' as you push and push for an impossible goal.
So my question to you is how do we change this? How do we change our thought process with body image? How can we help ourselves to start loving the skin we are in?
It takes time, it take effort and it takes for you to put yourself first and work on 'you'. I am not saying it will go away completely as I too still have body dysmorphia. We can note down the thoughts, work through those thoughts and find our evidence to help calm the panic and relax our overthinking brains. I am going to attach 2 worksheets today. One being on body image and other on calming down those thoughts. These are your tools to help you take the first steps you need to work on you. How many of you can write a massive list of all the things that are wrong with you? I bet most of you could do that easily. However how many of you can write a list of all the positive things about you? I bet that sounds a lot harder. The body image worksheet will make you write positive things about yourself, as you need to start accepting your body and start to love certain parts of yourself. I have always said even when I was ill, that I love my eyes and stomach and that's still the case to this day. Next the cooling down the thought worksheet will help you recognise the negative thought and break it down to help your brain relax. I want you to use this sheet when you are having bad thoughts and that stranger is looking back at you.
I am going to leave you now with a poem I wrote about my battles with body dysmorphia.
Please comment on your opinions regarding body dysmorphia and remember Let's keep it real.
Look into my eyes,
What do you see?
I can see a stranger,
An imposter not me.
Look at my body,
What can you see?
I see a girl,
Not sure who to be.
Look at my words,
What can you see?
I see a scream,
A shout, a plea.
Look into my soul,
What can you see?
I see a fighter,
It's Emma, it's me.