Body dysmorphia disorder is not “vanity”. It is not “digging for compliments”. It is staying in bed because you can’t face yourself in the mirror. It is crying before work because you have to talk to so many people that will just stare at your imperfections, because how could they not.
It is a sprinkling of good days. It is a torrential downpour of bad days. But there is never a day when you just stop thinking about what you look like. There is never a day when that isn’t on the forefront of your mind. How am I walking? Can people see how weird my legs are shaped? Am I drawing attention to them by walking? I laughed at a joke that a customer made. I think he just looked at me funny. He noticed how fucked up my teeth-to-gum ratio is, didn’t he? He noticed my turkey neck.
It isn’t always about perceiving yourself as fatter than you are. It isn’t always about weight. It’s about my eyes, my brows, my nose, my mouth, my cheeks, my chin, dear god my neck, my boobs, my stomach, my hips, my thighs, my knees, my weird lower legs, my wide, indelicate feet. It’s about hiding my profile from people because my profile makes me look like a Picasso painting. It’s about makeup doesn’t sit on my face well and my eyes always look stupid and my skin is ruddy and red regardless. I look like I’m trying too hard. People notice.
It’s about feeling sexual but forcing it back down because sex means naked, sex means hands on places and not being able to stop thinking about what I look like, and every angle is horrible but the one from behind, my face probably looks fat and retarded when I climax so I’ll put a pillow over it. Then I can’t snuggle. I have to get dressed. I have to wrap up in a blanket and pretend I was never touched, never exposed.
It’s about having an amazing, loving boyfriend who is lost. He looks at me like I’m the most beautiful person in the world and my brain tells me he’s lying. Then he tries to explain how I look and I panic because if I can’t perceive myself correctly then how the hell do I know I see everything else correctly and how do I know anything I’ve ever thought about anything is right.
It’s anxiety. It’s oppressive. It is not vain. And I do NOT want your fucking compliments.