I woke up this morning feeling ugly because I thought I had lost control over the way my hair looks – yesterday I bleached it and as you can guess, it didn’t go according to plan. I looked up how to fix such hair blunders and read a lot of different pieces of advice from lots of different sources. After getting stressed about what to do, I buried my head under the covers as my SO held me tight, trying to reassure me that I was still beautiful.
Whenever I feel that I’ve lost control, whether it’s the appearance of my hair, face or body, my BDD comes crawling back.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a condition in which a person has to perform certain tasks in order to ‘neutralise’ imaginary defects in their appearance. It’s more common than you may think (affecting 1% of the population) and it can hide in plain sight.
Everybody has their own insecurities about their appearance (some more than others), so it seems pretty normal for a friend or relative to talk about how they hate their hair or wish they could change most of their facial features to look like somebody else.
When these insecurities start to take control, that’s when support is needed. When I was diagnose with BDD in my teenage years, there were certain things that I had to do in order to either a) not look totally and completely ugly, or b) stop others from noticing my ugliness. These things included:
- Putting make-up on BEFORE a shower.
- Showering in the dark/with very limited light.
- Putting make-up on after the shower, in said limited light.
- Avoiding all brightly lit rooms if I could help it (mostly clothing stores).
- Avoiding mirrors where I couldn’t control the amount of light in the room.
- Not looking at window reflections.
- Avoiding photos, unless I was taking a controlled selfie.
I remember an early moment of my BDD, when I must have been about 9 or 10 years old. I was an avid fan of girly magazines like Mizz (remember those?), and one of their cutesy articles suggested writing down your biggest wish on a piece of paper to put under your pillow for a fairy to grant it. My mum found my wish and sad me down to talk about it. I had wished to be pretty by no longer having purple bags under my eyes, red cheeks or freckles.
More recently, my brain has decided that I am ‘fat’ because I haven’t been working out as much as I used to. I have no real proof of this because a) I don’t weigh myself, b) I don’t measure myself, and c) all my clothes still seem to fit the same. And yet, because the thought is so deeply lodged in my head, whenever I notice a roll of fat or compare my body to that of an Instagram star, I immediately think that I’m ‘big’ and cover my belly in large t-shirts. Even fully-naked sex is off the menu because of how ‘big’ I feel.
I’ve come to realise that my anxieties over the way I look sometimes stop me from doing normal things, like seeing other human beings, and that’s gotta stop.
The only way I’m going to feel better about my body, face and hair, is if I accept them. I can change them if I want to; working out again, look after my skin better, not bleaching my hair on the spur of the moment; but ultimately, I should try to accept and love what my momma gave me.
I admire other women’s bodies and may always wish I could look like that, but realistically, I’m never going to have Miranda Kerr’s face, Iskra Lawrence’s hips or Amber Rose’s boobies. I’m stuck in my body so I better start liking it and accepting it for what it is.
By accepting myself I can begin to like myself and consequently love myself. The list of things I hate about my appearance will hopefully become shorter than the list of things I love about my appearance. I’ll look after it by keeping it as healthy as I can, and make it look awesome by dressing it in whatever the fuck I want.
As this body is the only one I’m going to have (probably, unless robot bodies become available, then I’m all over that), I should start loving it for what it is – even the stuff that I really don’t like, because then the confidence will flow. I’ll no longer want to hide myself away in moments of anxiety, neither will I feel ugly from losing control over my appearance.
I’ll be the confidence person that I deserve to be.