Trigger warning: intrusive thoughts, body dysmorphia
I hate the way I look.
There’s nothing that sends me into a panic faster than seeing that someone has tagged me in a photo on social media.
I’m aware that this is a small scale catastrophe. There’s bigger issues in the world. I get it. But this one little notification is big enough to have me locking myself into my room for days on end, consequently shutting down my world.
I feel unfixable. My hair that I’ve cut and dyed and styled and let dry naturally and can never do quite right. My face that is too long, overly expressive, too young, too much. I overanalyze whether or not I’ve gained a pound recently, where it went, shaming myself, trying to fix it. I started revving up the low self-esteem engine at such a young age that I’m exhausted by the fact that it’s still going, refusing to burn out.
When it comes down to it, I just hate my face. I hate my body. I’ve done years of therapy, of self-help, of journaling, of body positivity, and I still can’t look myself in the eyes. Who I imagine I am in my head is instantly shattered, and that image wasn’t hyped up to begin with, to be honest with you.
Talking about it, while initially cathartic, never soothes me. I can and will go on for hours, never contented. It won’t give me a break from every time I see a beautiful girl walk up to a mirror, examine herself, and go on with her day. I don’t know what she’s thinking—hell, her thoughts could be worse than mine. But she can look at herself. I can’t. It feels like something’s rotting my insides when I do. I prefer to live in a world where I go unnoticed, never worrying about the state of my bangs.
My roommate, capturing a moment of me dancing in my kitchen. A new friend taking a group photo. A regular at work taking the time to take a photo of my coworkers and I and print us off copies to keep. Immediately, these things send me spiraling into a pit of self-loathing. It feels like I can’t enjoy my life. I’m too afraid to be seen in it.
Even in therapy, I feel ashamed if I make eye contact. Don’t ask about the state of my relationships. It takes over my life. I want, desperately, to be at a neutral place with my appearance. Neither here nor there, just existing. Sometimes I look in the mirror and chant, This is your face. Trying to neutralize it. Trying to defuse the bomb.
It feels futile, hating myself this way. I feel like I spend every day attempting to better myself, and to see myself after all this work and still hate what I see? It’s discouraging. It’s heart wrenching. I don’t know what the next steps are to just accept myself. I don’t even care to love myself right now. As long as I can look myself in the eye, I’ll be happy. As long as I can look myself in the damn eyes.