Body Dysmorphia & Perfect Imperfection

Today I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart.

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As a young women, I (and I’m sure many of you) am faced with an enormous amount of pressure to be perfect. Perfection in regards to education, public appearance, and, of course, my body. To be honest, I think that it’s unescapable to not feel self conscious about yourself in some aspects.

For example, I’ve never really liked my legs. I have my mom’s bulky calves and thighs that are 100% genetic (okay, soccer for 14 years probably helped a little). And I mean, really, if I stood next to my mom and you only saw are legs, you’d laugh. They’re identical.

That being said, I have a friend who has a very similar body to mine. The funny thing is, she has great, and I mean GREAT legs. I look at them and can’t help but think, “Wow! Her legs look so strong and toned”.

Even though I’ve been told many times that we both have the same lower body and I know my legs are similar to hers and think that hers are beautiful and empowering, a lot of the times I still see mine as nothing but big and beefy and wish for slim legs that go on for miles.

Body dysmorphia is a crazy, crazy thing. 

These thoughts were brought up by some girls I know in college. A few of them have eating disorders and I’ve had to watch painfully as they hurt themselves from the self-destructive habits of someone suffering from an ED. They say that when they look in the mirror, they don’t see how thin they’ve gotten and can only concentrate on the fat on their body. They’re skin and bones, and they know they are too, but the demons of body dismorphia somehow manage to creep into their minds and convince them otherwise.

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What’s especially scary for me is the fact that an eating disorder can strike anyone. There is no “defining” quality or trait that marks the people who have gotten/have an eating disorder and it seems able to strike anyone. It could have just as easily been me, and I find that terrifying. 

I consider myself extremely blessed to not have been a victim of an ED.

The thing is, I don’t think I’m completely free from that threat. No girl is.

The pressure to be thin and perfect is so consuming and overwhelming at times that I can’t help but think that our culture and society, thought to be one of the most advanced in the world, is absolutely mad. I remember studying in a cultural anthropology class about different types of mental illnesses brought on by society that can be found throughout the world, and it really opened up my eyes to how odd the American obsession for an emaciated body really is. Just think about it from the perspective of a girl living in an third world country. She struggles daily to stay alive and provide for herself and for her family. A country where women and girls purposefully starve themselves, vomit up perfectly nutritious food and essentially ruin their good health must sound to them to be extremely and utterly insane.

For what do we do this?

I feel like we put ourselves under such unnecessary stress when we attempt to achieve perfection. Let’s be honest. No one cares if you weigh 5 pounds more or less, only yourself. Heck, other people probably won’t even notice at all. I could diet and battle my way into losing them, obsessing over a number on a scale, and it wouldn’t even end up mattering in the grand scheme of things. I could force my body to run for miles, essentially running myself into the ground, to try to change my physique into a “runner’s body” and get that ridiculously desired thigh gap, but that’s just not my body shape and it never will be.

I know this is a bit of a rambling and unorganized post, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I were to only focus on the negatives about myself, it would eventually destroy me.

Yes, I have my insecurities and know that there are times when I have a skewed vision of myself, but I need to remember that the self-doubt is such a small, small part of who I am as a person. I feel like many of us need to open our eyes and focus on the overwhelmingly large amount of positives about ourselves.

We are all beautiful, strong, funny, unique, and so loved for who we are, even if we don’t believe it at times.

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I guess to summarize this long post up, I refuse to let my insecurities consume me. Instead, I choose to focus my energy on being good to myself, worshipping my wonderful body and talents, and living life without the shackles of self-doubt. Beauty is a state of mind and I want to radiate my own personal joy and love to those around me. I’m determined to see myself not in the bits and pieces that I dislike, but as a whole and I will not be a victim to the unrealistic expectations of social media. I just won’t.

And I’d love it if you’d joined me with that pledge.

Other Posts of Interest:

Beauty in Every Feature  by Miranda

For [Body] Shame by the Fitnessista

Why I Love My Body (And Why You Should Love Yours, Too) by Beth

Lots of love,

Christine

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post! Thank you for sharing this. It couldn’t have come at a better time- today was one of those days where I feel like I had a “fat day”. This brought me right back to reality.
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Thanks love, I was nervous about posting for some reason. I have those days too, but what I’ve come to realize is that they’re what you make of them. I could let them affect my day and eat less than I should be because of feeling heavier than usual, but that’s not what’s best for my body!
  2. says

    I used to suffer from body dysmorphia but I REFUSED to let my thoughts CONSUME ME! Instead I focus on the more important things in life! I am happy to report that I pretty much don’t think negatively about myself any longer and haven’t for quite some time. Yes, I may have a day here and there where I feel “bleh” but everyone does!!! Everyone needs to be happy with what they were blessed with, because you cannot change it! :) Embrace it!
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      AWESOME girl!! I love your positive attitude! It’s so important to love who you are (as cliche as it sounds) because that’s the key to happiness. You need to love yourself before you can truly love hoers! Love this: “Embrace it!”. Thanks for the comment love <3
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Thanks girl. It’s been on my mind for a while and I was nervous for sharing for some reason. I feel like almost all women have these feelings, though, regardless of if they have an eating disorder.
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      I won’t let my self doubts affect me. We are so much more than our negative thoughts :)
  3. says

    Wow. This was a good post. I totally understand where you are coming from with the beefy legs. I used to hate how muscular my legs were, but now I love them :) It’s all about finding the good in things
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Love hearing about people in the same boat! I still have days where I feel pretty “meh” about them, but for the most part I’ve come to like how muscular they are. Totally agree about “It’s all about finding the good in things”!
  4. says

    <3 such a great post love! Like I wrote in my post last week, we all have insecurities and things we want to change. But in the grand scheme of things, is it worth missing out on things because you're insecure about not having a thigh gap? Nope
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Thanks Miranda!EXACTLY! There’s so much more to us as people than a stupid thigh gap. Embrace yourself!
  5. says

    Thanks for linking, girlie. This is such a powerful post, and something that every girl can relate to. I still struggle with body image quite frequently, and it’s really nice to be reminded that the only person who really cares about what your body looks like is you. You’re such an inspiration <3 have a happy Monday, lovely!
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Of course, Beth!

      It’s so normal. I feel like a lot of the girls who are healthy living bloggers have one time suffered from an eating disorder, but so many of us who haven’t still have a ton of doubts about ourself. I think talking about it helps things from getting progressively worse. Aww love you girl! <3

  6. says

    Awesome post Christine! I think this is a subject that affects a lot of people (and I am one of them). I just need reminders from time to time that there are more important things to life.
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Thank you! It took me a good while to articulate everything I wanted to say how I wanted to say it. I’m just glad people can relate!
  7. says

    Great post! I think the pressure to be perfect in every way is something all women suffer from at one point or another, whether it’s our bodies or being able to fit 50 million things into one day (I suffer from the latter!). Keep up the positivity!
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      I couldn’t agree more! It’s all about self love and accepting that what will be, will be.
  8. says

    Great post! I also played soccer and a handful of girls on the team became obsessed with their bodies and ended up with a ED. Scary, sad and your right.. anyone can develop this. but you said it right.. loving yourself and worshiping your body for WHAT IT CAN DO.. is just all we can hope for and continue to be strong women <3
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Isn’t it absolutely CRAZY? I feel like it’s such a dice roll when it comes who will develop one. If we love ourselves, we build up shields against them, though! Lots of love girl <3
  9. says

    Like everyone before me has said, great post! I go through phases where I really struggle with body dysmorphia and then other times where I don’t have those kinds of thoughts at all. It’s really strange. I’m trying to work on the phases where I DO have those thoughts. I have NEVER looked at another woman and thought “I wish she would lost 5 pounds” so it’s really really stupid to think that about myself. Instead, I’m trying to tell myself “this is the way your body looks and that’s that so you should learn to love it as is!”
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      The same thing happens to me! Some days I’ll be like “Wahoo! My legs look great. stomach looks great. Boobs are fantastic today!” and others I feel negative about at least some aspects of myself. It’s such a weird thing.

      Exactly with the not seeing other women by their weight! If others don’t judge you by your body, why should you?

  10. says

    This is such a great post – so thought provoking. It’s crazy how much eating disorders are around us. I know plenty of people who have had them and still have them and struggle every day. I love the positive outlook and I accept and embrace it – but I feel for those who cannot. <3
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Thanks girl <3. I just felt like so many women suffer form this in-between form of perfectly healthy and confident (and I mean, no one is like that) and girls who have eating disorders hasn't been articulated as much as I'd like. Lots of love girl <3. I really appreciate you reading!
  11. says

    This is a great post! When I was in college my roomate struggled with an ED and it ate her alive in so many different areas of her life. Thankfully, after a lot of counseling and support from her family and friends she has overcome this horrible disease. This is a major struggle among women and some men that is overlooked and not spotlighted enough. Thanks for sharing! :)
    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      Exactly. It’s so hard to see your friends suffer from being consumed by their self-negativity. I’m so glad she was able to come out of it! Thanks for reading :)
  12. says

    In an effort not to use the same grouping of words as the others above me.. (I totally had “this is a great post” typed out as well before I saw that they had already said the same :P …. I really appreciate your focus on body image issues that have not manifested as an eating disorder. A lot of people think it’s just one way or the other and if you haven’t struggled with an ED then you are fine. But there are so many females (and males!) that have body dysmorphia as well as a number of other body image problems and don’t feel like their issues are “real” because they aren’t necessarily categorized as such. Sarah Michelle Geller has claimed to have body dysmorphia and that was eye opening for me because 1. I had never heard of it before and 2. It shows that even celebrities who are beautiful and seem perfect can struggle in accepting their appearance.

    Even at a healthy weight I still internally critique myself. Security central. But like you said, and what I’ve come to realize— a low weight doesn’t make us happy. Being skinny/pretty/exotic doesn’t make us special. I’ve come to admire and look up to people who have a wide variety of figures and looks and what makes me want to be them is their personality, their smile… How they act, not how they look.

    • christineskari@gmail.com says

      I love your reply so much! That’s exactly the point I’d like to make. So much light is shed on eating disorders (and I do think that’s a positive thing), but there’s not enough spotlight on the huge group of women who suffer form their insecurities.

      THIS made my day: “Even at a healthy weight I still internally critique myself. Security central. But like you said, and what I’ve come to realize— a low weight doesn’t make us happy. Being skinny/pretty/exotic doesn’t make us special. I’ve come to admire and look up to people who have a wide variety of figures and looks and what makes me want to be them is their personality, their smile… How they act, not how they look.”

      Love you girl! :)<3

  13. says

    What a thought provoking post. I’ve been thinking about all these thoughts lately as well. For the most part I strive to focus on fitness and health when it comes to my eating, but with my wedding coming up in a few months I have found myself thinking things like “man I hope I look skinny” and having differing opinions of what others see in the mirror (“you look fantastic” – other people. “Hmm.. maybe another pound or two?” – me.) It’s such a tough thing – but I think you’re right, it’s just a matter of deciding to focus on the positive. It’s a daily decision to accept and love ourselves!!
    • Christine@ Apple of My Eye says

      Exactly! We put ourselves under such unnecessary stress trying to put a perfect image to others, but our small imperfections that we see as important usually aren’t even noticeable to others. You will look so, so beautiful on your wedding day, regardless of that pound or two that you wish you had been able to shed! Thank you for your comment, it reassures me that I’m not the only one <3
      • says

        Agreed – why do we do it to ourselves?? Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m excited and a few pounds shouldn’t affect any of that excitement! After all I’ll probably look at the wedding pictures in 10 years and think about how nice I look! That always happens when it is too late, why can’t we just realize it IN the moment?? Well anyways – I hear you… you’re not alone! :)
  14. says

    I love the blog’s new design, but I REALLY LOVE THIS POST.

    Everything that you wrote is so true and I know that I have definitely chased perfection and fallen down that slippery slope more than once. The worst part is that it’s not an isolated thing. For me, obsessing about making my body perfect also meant that other aspects of my life suffered, like socially (avoiding friends/going out) and academically (literally falling asleep in class because I was so exhausted/hungry).

    It’s SCARY and, you’re right – absolutely insane. It’s so shameful how much our society preys on the insecurities of women and pressures them to fit certain molds. Like you, I’m working hard to accept my body. Some days are easier than others, but reading posts like this definitely helps :)

    • says

      Thank you so much girl! I know exactly how you feel. I feel like every girl goes through the same thing and thoughts. It’s so hard to love and appreciate yourself these days!

      Your support means everything to me <3

  15. says

    Hi girlie, I’m catching up on my blog reading ;)

    I LOVE THIS POST, thank you so much for posting this! You’ve got a strong head on your shoulders, thank you for sharing your insight about this sensitive topic. I definitely see a different person when I look at my own body versus seeing myself in pictures and sometimes it’s difficult to understand that feeling fat doesn’t make you look fat. Great supporting pictures as well :)

  16. Eleni says

    What an awesome post! I’m so glad I’m not the only one with this issue! Every day is a struggle as I work towards a life built around healthy choices – both in regards to food & fitness and mental health! It’s so easy to get into your own head and let your insecurities get the best of you, but you put it so well – if you do let it get to that point it will ruin you (been there!).

    Here’s to us and our journies towards acceptance, happiness, and health!

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