Da da dee da dum dum dee dum dum . . . DYSMORPHIA. (thanks Rihanna’s songwriting team for your song that sums up my mental state)
I kind of always figured that I suffered from body dysmorphia (DEFINITION: Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a preoccupation with the appearance of a certain part of the body), but now I am absolutely 100% positive. It has taken about a year or so to come to this realization. Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start.
My whole life (practically) I was aware that I was bigger than the other kids, if not the biggest. It was readily apparent.
When I was tipping the scale at somewhere just over 300 F*ing pounds I knew I was large but I never thought I was massive. I mean I wasn’t so large that my gravitational pull had objects orbiting around me. I always thought I looked thinner than the numbers on the scale would lead one to picture. I even had friends that would peg me in the 250-275 pound range. That was always nice because I felt like while number wise there were a lot of pounds to lose, image wise I was already ahead of the game.
Never in my life have I felt “skinny.” In fact I hate the word. Detest it! It has such a negative connotation. When I reached the 250 lbs. mark in 2003 I was feeling good but never skinny, not even thin. I knew I was thinner but still felt like my corpulent self.
The problem is that I see myself in the mirror every damn day. I can’t tell how much less space I take up. In my head I am still 300+ pounds. When I see me in the mirror I still see the problem areas (the hint of breasts, a little pudge around the pubic mound, and residual belly fat). We are talking a loss of more than 100 lbs to date, and yet all I see are the same problems that have made me insecure my whole life.
Now, deep down I realize that I am waaaay smaller than I previously was. I get it. I comprehend that people don’t even recognize me. I get that my best friend tells me I am “so skinny,” which is a way of saying, “you were massive and now you’re not.” But every time that word is uttered it makes me want to slap a bitch! What about thin? Slim? Healthy? Any other word choice would suffice.
A few weeks ago a friend’s mom referred to me as “svelte.” This immediately made me smile because I LOVE that word (I am weird and really like languages, especially my native language and appreciate others who make use of all the words their language has to offer).
Last month I attended a party where there were a lot of old college friends and acquaintances. One guy later told one of my closer friends that he didn’t even recognize me, and that is why he looked at me funny when I walked up and started chatting with him.
Just this past weekend I attended another party and decided that I wanted to do some shopping and find something new to wear (as most of the attendees were people I see often, and I don’t need a gazillion photos of me on facebook wearing the same thing all the time). To make a long(ish) story somewhat shorter, I found a shirt I really liked. They had a large so I grabbed it. Not wanting to go back in the dressing room for the fourth time I decided to just throw it on over what I was wearing (a T-shirt over a long sleeved thermal). It fit. Great I thought. Then I kept looking around and a few minutes later thought, “that shirt fit pretty easily and that was on top of two other shirts.” So I walked to the rack, found a medium, and made my way into the dressing room. IT FIT! The medium fit. Un-F*ing real. I strutted out of that dressing room like I owned the place. I can’t even tell you the last time I fit into a men’s medium shirt.
Here’s the thing. When I look in the mirror I do not see a man that wears a medium shirt. I see a man that has been in a large for 5 or 6 years (sometimes just squeaking into that large) and prior to that was an X-large. It is damn near impossible to get it through my head that I am not that man anymore. I suppose that just understanding and acknowledging the fact that there is a dichotomy in the way I see myself (my self-perception) and what I actually look like/how others see me, is a start. I am struggling to change the way I see myself. Trying to see a truer version than the image I have burned into my brain and my retinas. But I gotta tell you, it’s not easy.
P.S. I just remembered that I came across an indie doc a while back that addresses the this issue as it pertains to the gay community. The film was called "Do I Look Fat" and I can't attest to it being either good or bad as I still haven't watched it. But is seems worthwhile. Try and check it out.