If you have a child or know a child, you can probably agree that children are perfect. Sure, they’re noisy and messy, and unpredictable at times.
But those gap-toothed smiles and chubby feet and poking-out bellies? Perfect.
Unfortunately, we don’t always view our own bodies in such a positive light—especially as we grow. We can be, as the saying goes, our own worst critics. Sometimes, this self-criticism becomes so severe that it’s called “body dysmorphia.”
Body dysmorphia not only causes a lot of problems on the inside—with increased worry and anxiety—but it can also lead to problems on the outside, the most worrisome of which is an eating disorder.
Recognizing body dysmorphia and getting the help you need to see your body in a better light is the best step you can take to ward off a potential eating disorder. So let’s talk about what you might look for to determine if you have body dysmorphia.
3 Key Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia
The Mayo Clinic lists a few signs you can look for to identify body dysmorphia.1 We’ve grouped these signs into three main categories. Be honest with yourself as you read through these lists. Ask, “Do these things ring true for me?”
You fixate on your physical flaws.
While it’s normal for any person to care about their looks, someone who suffers from body dysmorphia will spend excessive time thinking about their body.
You may zero in on a specific area of your body that you deem ugly and be unable to see the good that surrounds it. Oftentimes what you’re worried about isn’t consequential in the grand scheme of things and may not even be noticeable to others.
Regardless, if you have body dysmorphia, you may assume that strangers—or even your friends and family—make fun of your appearance in secret.
You work hard to hide your perceived flaws.
Again, it’s understandable for a person to dress in a way that features their best assets. But someone with body dysmorphia will likely take this to the extreme.
You may spend lots of time and money on clothes, makeup, or even cosmetic procedures to cover up your perceived imperfections. In most cases, these efforts won’t help your body confidence.
You might find yourself excessively looking in a mirror throughout the day and changing your clothes, refixing your hair, or redoing makeup countless times.
Your relationships with others begin to suffer as a result of your fixations.
Perhaps the most telling symptom of body dysmorphia comes when a person’s self-consciousness affects their friendships and familial relationships.
You may notice that you constantly compare your appearance to those around you. Sometimes this comparison will make you feel better about yourself, albeit temporarily. Other times, it will leave you feeling worse than before.
As a result, you might regularly ask friends or family, “How do I look?” with a deep need for approval and to the point that it becomes frustrating for them. Or you may even stop going around with friends and family altogether.
If you resonate with these symptoms of body dysmorphia, please reach out for help. It’s not too late to learn to view your body in a better light. Aster Springs can help. Give us a call today at (804) 415-7603.