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Body Image And Struggling With How I Look.

How I Struggle With My Perception Of My Body And My Face.

By Carol TownendPublished 4 months ago 10 min read
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 Body Image And Struggling With How I Look.
Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

"I am fat."

"No, I am too thin."

The above comments are taken from the thoughts in my head as I observe my body while getting dressed, either in a mirror or just as I look at myself naked. These comments are often followed by:

"My hips are too wide/small."

"My legs look fat/thin."

Now, let me take you to the thoughts that run through my head as I observe my face in the mirror:

"I have too many spots, and I am awful."

"I am too pale. I am ugly."

"My hair is awful."

"I have too many wrinkles."

"I have too many freckles."

"My eyes don't look nice enough."

These might seem like ordinary everyday complaints for people who just want to look good, but for me, they are not.

There isn't a day that goes by when I don't become constantly obsessed with my body or my looks.

I can spend all day, every day looking in the mirror and checking whether or not I look 'good enough,' and I have days when I wake up and cannot stand looking in a mirror full stop, because my mind convinces me that I look completely horrible.

I have had many days where I have counted every single freckle, stretch mark, and other flaws, to the point where it has driven me to tears.

I have also had days where every single wobble of my arm or stomach has made me feel so imperfect that I have had to cover it up completely before I go out.

There is still a problem, even when I manage to get out.

I still know that those flaws are there, and I will go to extremes to make sure nobody can see them.

I have two c-section scars, stretch marks, and a stomach that will never go completely flat due to having my pelvic bone fractured by my baby when I was pregnant.

I work out often but sometimes that can make me feel worse about my body, especially if it doesn't get rid of my 'flaws.'

You might be saying,

"I've seen your picture, and I know you in real life. You're not fat, and you're perfect just the way you are."

I get told I'm beautiful, and that there is nothing wrong with my body on a regular basis.

However, no matter how many times you try to convince me I'm 'perfect' just the way I am,

I will never be able to see myself your way.

It started when I was severely abused in childhood and most of my adulthood. During those times, I was bullied on a regular basis over my weight, looks, breasts, and body shape. I was also raped and assaulted by peers and other adults in my life on a regular basis.

To add to that, I was also a victim of domestic and community violence which went on throughout most of my young adulthood.

I have done DBT in the past which has given me skills to deal with my issues.

However, therapy is helpful in the sense of giving some coping methods. It does not erase the memories or cure the problem.

I have Body Dysmorphia

I have added the link above so that you can look it up.

However, as everyone is an individual and may display different symptoms, I'd prefer to describe how it affects me in my own words.

NOTE: I am no longer receiving therapy because I can manage my symptoms without it, and I am no longer medicated because the skills I have gained from therapy help me enough to be able to deal with it now. However, it is vital to seek help from a medical professional if you feel that you may have symptoms of this condition, as it can be complicated to deal with without medical advice.

A person without this condition can often see themselves as they are, and they can accept their flaws without overthinking or misperceiving themselves.

I can't.

  • When you look at me; you might see a healthy individual who is in good shape and has the right weight for their shape: Where you see slim or in-shape, I see fat, flabby, overweight even when in reality, I might not be.
  • You might see: A few freckles, where I see lots. You might not see them as a problem, or you might even see them as cute; but my mind interprets them as my worst flaw, making me think I look bad and then making me see bad skin.
  • You might see toned legs: Whereas I might see 'tree trunks,' as I have described them to my partner on many occasions.
  • You might see a beautiful lady, but I will see every single imperfection from head to toe that makes me look bad.

This is just a small list of perceptions.

Things have got a bit better today. I have days when I wake up and see myself as me, but I still have days when I am blinded by my imperfections to the point where I will obsess about them constantly, all day.

I still struggle hard on those days.

On those days, every other woman will be perceived as more beautiful, better looking, or slimmer than me.

I have mentioned in past articles that I have struggled with Anorexia and Bulimia in the past.

I sometimes still struggle to keep these issues under control, though it isn't as serious as they used to be. I try to eat well and stay healthy today, but when the past is in my head I can sometimes temporarily relapse.

I think the fact that I was also living on the streets for a while at a most vulnerable period in my life, and at a time when I was going through more severe abuse played a part in my distorted image of myself.

I was blamed for everything I was going through by professionals and by the people around me, and I was abused in many tormenting ways. These issues can leave people with a severely distorted image of themselves, to the point where they may not recognize who they really are, and that was me for some time during and after the trauma occurred.

To add to that, I was also a victim of domestic violence and community violence which went on throughout most of my young adulthood.

I have done DBT in the past which has given me skills to deal with my issues.

However, therapy is helpful in the sense of giving some coping methods. It does not erase the memories or cure the problem.

My life isn't all negative today though. I have many fresh positives that keep me going. Here is a list:

I can now manage my PTSD well enough to see my favorite concerts, even though I do have a temporary relapse due to triggers whilst there sometimes.

  • I enjoy life with my loving husband.
  • I love seeing my grandchildren.
  • I enjoy walking on my treadmill, pilates, dancing, singing, and using my WII for fitness.
  • I enjoy going on holidays and outings, though I need support to do so.
  • I'm looking forward to being a mum again.

I love my life as a writer/author.

Living with body dysmorphia isn't easy. Many people think it is just all about attention-seeking

It can come across that way, but it really isn't. Those behaviors that you describe as attention-seeking, are more to do with the person needing reassurance about how they look, or in some cases; also about how they are behaving.

I have had periods in my life where my behavior can change drastically, depending on how I feel about myself. On those days when I feel really insecure about myself, I will deliberately seek the attention of others for reassurance so that I can reassure myself that I am or look okay.

It isn't the same as a child seeking attention for a bag of sweets. The person with body dysmorphia is trying desperately to feel more secure about themselves, and sometimes they will go to extremes to achieve that because the insecurity can feel so intense that it can induce acting out which is often an anxiety reaction. i.e. the person is reacting to how they feel about themselves in order to feel better which can cause anxious symptoms to appear as attention-seeking.

Sometimes body dysmorphia can make me feel paranoid, depending on how I feel about myself during the day.

On those days I feel:

  • As if everybody is watching me, and has noticed every single flaw about me.
  • Everybody is talking about me in a bad way.
  • People have noticed I am fat, and are bullying me.
  • Like I have done something wrong even though I haven't.

At times like these, people will try to talk me out of feeling the way I do.

It does not work.

The only thing that works, is to let me express my feelings and sit with them until I feel better. If you try to talk me out of the way I feel, it will make me feel more paranoid.

This is not a condition that just goes away, even after therapy. Sometimes it can be genetic, but other times like mine abuse and social conditioning can play a part.

  • If you have been told you are flawed all your life, then you'll grow up believing that you are flawed.
  • If you have always been told you are fat and ugly, then you'll grow up believing that.

Having Body Dysmorphia does not mean that you are violent or unworthy of love, nor does it mean that you are incapable of living a normal life.

It just means that you have difficulty identifying with yourself and your body.

It does not give people an automatic right to be a bully, target you, or tell you how you should look.

This is a condition that I will have to live with for the rest of my life, and I do everything I can to try and not let it affect me. I have bad days and I have good days. I like to write about my good days, and I like to write out all of the thoughts in my head. I find it sometimes changes the way I perceive myself and allows me to get on with my day.

Many people comment on my weight.

They tell me I'm too thin, too fat, look ill, and that I am not looking after myself enough.

Please Don't!

Comments like these only make it harder for me and others to manage our symptoms. Instead of focusing on how we look, try to focus on something we have done that is positive.

Every day gets easier when I take it one day at a time, and focus my mind on at least one positive goal for that day. Sure, I wake up and feel awful about my reflection, and sometimes even my personality; but when I achieve something that I want to achieve that day, I feel better about myself as a person in the long run.

One of my most loved singers, who is Robbie Williams, deals with the same condition that I deal with. I have been following him on Instagram, where I find inspiration from the things that he posts. Sometimes, he can even get a giggle out of me which is often hard for many of my friends to do.

Following Robbie helps me to gain confidence in myself, and I have never forgotten the time I got to chat with him thanks to my husband.

I think we all have at least one celebrity that we admire in our lives, and Robbie gives me the strength to continue finding positives when the dark re-enters my life.

I also need to thank my husband, also a writer. You can view his profile here:

Jonathan has been married to me for over 20 years. He has seen me break completely, and held me up; even when he has had his own problems. Jonathan tries hard to help me to change my perceptions of myself when they are distorted, even when he knows his help won't always help me. He has been standing by me since 1998, and though he has his own disabilities now, he never gives up.

Thank you to my husband, because I wouldn't have chatted with Robbie if it wasn't for you, and for being there through thick and thin. And, thank you for helping me to talk about a problem that has made me feel bad about myself for years.

Body Dysmorphia is a condition that I hardly ever hear being talked about here in the United Kingdom where I live.

People are often shamed and stigmatized for it. However, it is important to talk and find support. You don't have to suffer in silence.

If you are suffering and need to talk, you may find the following link useful:

humanitysupportstigmadisordercopingCONTENT WARNINGadvice
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About the Creator

Carol Townend

Fiction, Horror, Sex, Love, Mental Health, Children's fiction and more. You'll find many stories in my profile. I don't believe in sticking with one Niche! I write, but I also read a lot too.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (2)

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  • Kageno Hoshino4 months ago

    Personally I don't care about my looks

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Carol, I have read and heard about body dysmorphia before. You are courageous to write about the struggles. Sending positive vibes!!!

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