Body Dysmorphic Disorder

So a thing happened at work this morning, and it seems silly to even bring it up, but though it’s small, I think it’s significant.

I was in the treatment area with a vet, a tech, and a receptionist (this sounds like the beginning of a terrible joke, but bear with me), and somehow the topic turned to our bodies.  They were talking about how and where they gain all their weight, the changes they’ve noticed in their bodies as they’ve started to age, etc.  I chimed in: “I hate how I’m built like the fucking Michelin Man.  I have these lumpy boobs, lumpy tummy, lumpy abdomen.  I look like a stack of freaking tires.”  The receptionist – whom, by the way, I think is totally gorgeous and has a beautiful body – looked at me with a flash of irritation and said, “Just… don’t.  Don’t even go there.”  At first, I didn’t understand why she was irritated.  Then, it happened.

There was this little pop in my vision.  Nothing in the room actually changed, but my perception of it did.  I am so used to being the fattest person in the room that I don’t even consciously think about it anymore.  No matter where I go or whom I’m interacting with (except for obviously, drastically, morbidly obese people), there’s always just this underlying assumption that I’m the fatty in the room.  I hadn’t really thought about it at this hospital where I’m working right now, but in that moment I realized that I’d still been thinking of myself as the fattest person there.  And then that little shift in perception happened.  I looked down at myself.  I looked around at the other women.  And then I realized: I am the thinnest person in the room.  And none of them are really overweight at all!  They’re quite lovely, actually!  But *that* was why she was irritated with me: I was being one of those obnoxious girls who is thinner than everyone in the room and complaining about how fat she is.  That was me.  Wait, what?  That was me? I was standing there in the midst of a mundane little conversation that happens every day, every where, among any given group of women, and my mind was exploding: I’m not fat anymore.

50 lbs.  I look at that number, and I understand it.  On a cognitive level, I know what that number means.  I know what it feels like to carry a 50 lb dog, so I can imagine what it is to take 50 lbs off my body.  But this is the first time that I’ve actually internalized it–that I can see myself without it.  Before this morning, I still saw a fat person.  Today, I see myself as I truly am.

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Sharing the hilarity. (It’s funny ‘cos it’s true!)

So my friend Caitlin, whom I mention all the time, posted this on her blog recently and it was so friggin’ funny that I had to repost it:

“The other day, I was talking to a dear friend whom I legitimately like and deeply respect. The conversation sailed along, fueled by bullshit, until he told me something really nice about myself.

Skreeeeeeeeee, went the conversation to a horrible halt.

Like the meta, Liberal-arts fuckheads we are, we clawed our way out of the awkwardness by discussing how frigging hard it is to hear you’re awesome. And how I would probably more easily take a punch than take a compliment.

“Let’s see a crazed fan kill you with nice words, you asshole.” –Harry Houdini

Thus, Compliment Club was born.

The first rule of Compliment Club is, do not talk about Compliment Club.

The second rule of Compliment Club is, make sure you’re cuddling a pillow like a baby.

There is so far no third rule for Compliment Club.

Anyone can join and anyone can start their own local branches. And when I show up to work tomorrow with a black eye and a bloody lip? Don’t say a word, unless you want to hear that I like your shoes.”

I hope she appreciates that the act of posting this is, in itself, my first punch/method of entry into Compliment Club.  How d’ya like this shiner, ‘natch?