Commentary: Body dysmorphia: Something needs to change

Shannon Blackmore says the discussion around body dysmorphia needs to change. (Submitted by Shannon Blackmore)




These are just a few words that flow through my mind every morning when I look in the mirror. I’m sure many of you can relate. Body dysmorphia is a mental illness that roots itself into our self-esteem like a leech. It’s the silent, invisible killer – draining us of our energy, and motivation, while feeding our depression and anxiety.

One degrading thought, one degrading feeling, is all it takes for our moods to spiral. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I hit these moods, I turn into a badger, digging myself into the deepest parts of my self-loathing and burrowing there for hours, days, weeks.

The way body dysmorphia is perceived needs to change. How we treat those who suffer from body dysmorphia needs to change. Our language, our attitudes toward dieting and body image need to change. It is an issue.

While body dysmorphia may not be blatantly obvious to everyone, it’s quite easy to spot. Self-deprecating jokes, low hygiene, lack of motivation, frequently looking in the mirror at your body, or even avoiding mirrors altogether – all these things are tell-tale signs of the mental disorder. Everyone experiences it differently.

Body dysmorphia is like a reoccurring gift, except the gift is a flaming bag on your doorstep that you can never get rid of. You step in it, it’s with you all day. You let it sit there and leave to go to work or school, but when you go home its remanence will still be there on your doorstep. There is no fixing, masking the smell or scooping it away. There will always be a trace of it looming over you.

We need to encourage people to appreciate their bodies. No matter the size, no matter the appearance, no matter the imperfections. We need to discourage derogatory jokes. We need to discourage shaming others, shaming strangers, on how they dress or appear.

For each judgemental comment that is made about a person, who knows how many they have thought of themselves. We are all worthy of loving ourselves, our bodies, without bounds. Without judgement. Without hate.

We live in a world that is constantly focused on trends, fad diets and likes on social media. We live in a world that, for so many, makes coasting through our daily lives a mental war.

Through our failure to encourage body-positive language in society, in normal conversation and in our online personas, we are providing those who suffer with body dysmorphia the armoury to step onto their own mental battle-field. We are driving each other into our own personal hell.

You don’t have to be overweight to suffer from this disorder either. You can be any size, any race or any gender. All human beings on this planet can suffer from this disorder, not just women, as it is assumed.

We’re all hurting. We’re all experiencing self-loathing, self-deprecation and ultimately facing self-destruction. The culture needs to end. We need to put an end to the way we talk, the way we behave and the way we treat others who feel insecure in their skin.

Living in a body that you hate makes living each day more difficult than could ever be imagined. As I have experienced, it’s like living in your own personal hell. Each step you take, you’re surrounded by flames, charring your feet as you walk. There is no way of truly escaping the self-loathing we feel as individuals who experience body dysmorphia, there is no cure.

Having a supportive community, and making your community supportive, is a step in the right direction. It’s time to make change. It’s time to do what we can to make everyone truly feel comfortable in their own skin.