Friday, September 11, 2009

Distorted Body Image

One of the hardest components that I had to face when beginning this pilgrimage towards better health was reconciling my own perception of how I looked with what was going on in reality. I sometimes think that I must suffer from a type of body dysmorphia, but not in the way that is so often the case.

I believed I looked fine. Honestly, I know the value in this and am very happy that I feel like my body image has generally always been a positive one, but it also makes this journey more difficult at times. In fact, I believe that it is one of the main contributing factors to me even reaching the size that I did.

I certainly struggled with my share of evenings where every piece of clothing that I owned ended up on the floor in a heap because I couldn't quite convince myself that anything hid the fat adequately enough. I suffered the self-admonishment that played in my head each time my pant size increased. I felt ashamed to realize several years ago that I could no longer purchase pretty much anything in the average clothing stores, and that my choices had become limited to plus sized shops only. I tried unsuccessful time after time to lose enough weight to fit into a smaller dress size for my wedding.

Yet, none of these - nor so many other - factors actually made me feel like my weight made me look terrible. I could peer in the mirror and generally felt satisfied. I absolutely believed that my body was well proportioned and that, since the fat was distributed fairly evenly, I looked fine.

I would get photographs back and be really unhappy that someone had captured an image of me from such an unflattering angle. I would stare at the shadows of my husband and I walking side by side down the street and be confused about why mine looked so much larger than his. For the longest time, I wondered if perhaps my scale or the scales of all my male friends were broken, since every time they mentioned their weights I just couldn't comprehend that their numbers were lower than mine.

The truth was that I had built an obese body for myself and hadn't realized it. I knew the numbers, but everyone always says that it's more about how you feel than what is on the outside. I had somehow accepted that on a very extreme level.

Being two hundred and sixty six pounds is not alright with me. I know that there is a wonderful movement to accept the weight of people no matter how far up the scale their numbers go, and I believe that it's a good cause, followed by a group of very self-assured and progressive individuals. But, I can't be one of them anymore.

For me, it is important to ensure that my observations become more synchronized with the truth. I don't want to be satisfied with the status quo only to find myself astounded or making excuses when a hard piece of evidence of my mass is suddenly staring me in the face. I want to remove the blinders. I need to see clearly.


  1. This all so true. It is so easy to let the problem get out of hand when we don't realize what is going on. Or rather, when we don't recognize and accept the physical changes we are going through. Good on you for recognizing the problem and working towards fixing it. You don't have to 'hate' the look to want to change it.

  2. I felt the same way, seeing a different me (carefully posed in the mirror) than what I saw reflected in photos and store windows, etc. I worry that it's still true, that even though I feel like I am looking great, I am still deluding myself. My biggest worry, of course, is that I will never be able to trust my perception of myself and will always doubt how I actually appear and secretly believe I look much worse than I actually do.

  3. Oh Yes, Oh Yes, I recognise me in your post today. I always blamed mirrors and window glass for distorting my size. I always looked ok in my mirror at home?? Why did other mirrors especially in clothes shops make me look so big. That reflection in the shop window surely wasn't me, I would never let myself get that big?
    As for photo's, oh don't get me started on photo's, I would be here all day.

    Great post, thank you.


  4. This is something that I still have a hard time coming to terms with even though I largely wrote my post referencing the past.