Warning Signs of Body Image Distortion
There are people who insist that they are overweight when others continually tell them that they’re not. They see fat where others don’t. Who’s right?
Everyone distorts her body size to some extent. After all, people can only look at themselves from within or through a mirror. They can never see themselves from the perspective of someone else. Having some body image distortion is normal.
However, there are some people who distort their body size to such a degree that it is considered abnormal. For example, an anorexic patient weighing 77 pounds might view herself as obese in the mirror to the astonishment of those around her. This, of course, is the extreme; but generally when someone sees her body size as significantly different from how others see her body it is an indication of a body image distortion disorder.
Some Characteristics of People with Body Image Distortion
People with abnormal body image distortions tend to be:
- people with low self-esteem
- people who are perfectionists
- men in sports with weight requirements such as jockeys and wrestlers
- people with eating disorders
- people who have had a significant person in their lives who continually criticized them about their size
Warning Signs of Body Image Distortion
- No matter how much weight you lose, you still view your body as unacceptable or too big.
- People describe your size in a significantly different way than you do.
- You have difficulty accepting compliments about how good you look or how thin you are.
- You feel large/fatter on days when you are upset, and smaller/thinner on days when you feel good.
- You feel significantly heavier or thinner from day to day, although realistically you know your body couldn’t have changed drastically overnight.
- After feeling fine emotionally and physically during part of a day, something goes wrong and you react by suddenly feeling fat and or unattractive.
Steps to Recovering From Body Image Distortion
Although it is difficult and time-consuming it is possible for a body image distortion to normalize. Here are some essential steps in achieving recovery:
- Learn to accept that you are distorting based on the overwhelming evidence coming from the outside world who views your body more realistically than you do.
- Decide that you’re going to trust other people (the world in general – not a single person) more than yourself when it comes to how big your body is since they are more accurate than you are at it.
- Work on accepting that although you perceive yourself and feel fat, it is not true because there is too much evidence to the contrary.
- Remind yourself at every instance that it’s impossible to suddenly be fatter than you were a few moments ago so it has to be a distortion.
- Use self-talk to keep reminding yourself that the distortion will change as you learn to accept yourself unconditionally and trust that the problem has nothing to do with the size of your body.
- Focus on other things in life that bring enjoyment and activity.
- Dare to do the opposite of what your mind is telling you. If your mind is telling you to not go out because you are fat, purposely go out. If it says not to wear something because you’re too fat, purposely wear it.
- Trust that you can get past this and recover. Life is meant to be enjoyed not to be miserable about your body.
- Get a life apart from your body size.
10. Leave the past behind.
A body image distortion gets in the way of a person’s happiness and is a serious problem. It is not unusual to need help dealing with it. Professional help is best if you’re not able to follow the steps mentioned above on your own. There is life after a body image distortion – a happy one.
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