BODY DYSMORPHIA IN TEENAGERS: IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, LITERALLY.

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Abigail Troth, Contributing Writer, Brookhaven MS

 

I know that feeling. I think we’ve all felt that sadness (or at least I hope you haven’t) of looking in the mirror and thinking:

“This is not how I want to look. This is not how I’m supposed to look. I hate myself.”

It’s a pain that takes a lot out of you, and sometimes, you lose yourself. I remember losing myself when I felt that way too. It’s body dysmorphia, and it comes in many forms. But body dysmorphia isn’t just found in a few people: quite a few people suffer from it. The International OCD Foundation stated, “Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.9% of the general population — about 1 in 50 people. This means that more than 5 million people to nearly 10 million people in the United States alone have BDD.” That’s way too many people.

So how do we handle it?

When I was 13, I remember being on the junior basketball team. Don’t get me wrong, I sucked. I really did. I am not an athlete, but I enjoyed sports. Some people on the team were nice to me, and some were not. This one girl thought she was just perfect. I often had to suffer her wrath, and I had to know that I was just not as good as her. In the locker room, she would sneak snarky remarks to me saying, “Maybe you should eat a salad for lunch.” or “How could anyone date someone so fat and lumpy?” For months after that, I remember suffering from bulimia and BDD. Since then, I have grown. I have changed, and I’ve gained weight. I later learned that this bully had her own insecurities, as most bullies do.

But I also learned that I wasn’t alone. Not only in my class, or my school, but in my state, in my country, and in my world. When I learned I wasn’t alone, it was saddening. Disgusting, actually.

It’s been commonly talked about for a very long time the existence of “the perfect body.” Guys need to be buff, girls need to be thin. A mold society has created for people to fit, and not give a single bit of pushback. And that just has to stop.

Luckily, society has started to change this ideal. Plus-size models have become a norm, something they should have long been. But as bad as we don’t want to admit it, society still holds that “standard” to all of us. Whether you think so or not, it’s true. Glamour.com states that plus-size women account for less than one percent of runway models. Some people are still stuck in that state of mind that we all have to have the bodies of Barbie and Ken.

While it’s sad, I’ve seen first hand how to heal from it.

People have a misunderstanding of the body dysmorphia in teenagers. They think that it’s just a ploy for attention, but it’s a genuine issue. Teenagers are truly suffering from a disorder that makes them feel as though they are worthless.

According to www.evolvetreatment.com, teenagers commonly develop BDD due to relatives that suffer from OCD or BDD, or having depression and anxiety (something that affects so many teenagers, dangerously many).

If you feel as though you’re suffering from BDD or know someone that is, there’s ways to help them.

Medically, it’s best to seek therapy or talk to a mental health expert. From personal experience, it’s hard to get over. I’m not saying you can’t do it, I know you can! I believe in you, always. But sometimes it’s best to find someone willing to listen and hear you, and find ways to help you that will stick with you.

Let others listen. At least, those willing to listen. Find a supportive friend, someone you can confide in. My biggest confidant during my struggle was my sister Sarah. I could, and still can, confide in her all my biggest struggles. She’s always there to listen to me, and she gives me the best advice.

My sister once told me, “You have one body. Love it. Treat it with kindness. It does so much for you.”

How right she is.

I know it may seem hard right now, but you’ve got this. Your body is so wonderful.

To change the number of people that have BDD, there needs to be more representation of different types of bodies in the media. There needs to be lower standards for bodies because ALL bodies are beautiful.

Stop telling teenager girls that they should have a “snatched” waist or a thigh gap. Stop telling teenage guys that they need to be ripped with a sharp-as-a-knife jawline. These are the standards that are starting BDD and continuing it. These standards are draining so many people.

But I want you to believe that no matter what, your body is absolutely gorgeous.

We have one body, let’s show it some love.

You will be alright. I promise.

“Don’t let your mind bully your body.”

– June Tomaso Wood