WordPress automatically assigns an Author’s name to a piece. Since I’m beginning this article, my name is assigned. David will be collaborating on this article. We have a wide range of thought on this subject and it’s all relative to our experiences in this dysmorphic world. My experience is personal. David’s knowledge and wisdom is priceless. Body Dysmorphia is simply thinking unrealistically, that somehow your body is flawed and needs to be fixed. I truly believe that it also works the other way when we may see ourselves looking better than we do. The problematic area of this is when we think that we’re hopelessly flawed. It sends us into a downward spiral of great magnitude. If we think that we look better, well, others may be subjected to visuals that they wish they weren’t, but it’s not nearly as destructive to our souls.
“Oh, my goodness, Brenda! You weigh FORTY POUNDS!!! You’re FAT!”… These words colored my entire life until 2018. I was four years old. My anorexic mom told me to get on the scale and the next words that I heard were those. If you follow me very closely, you have probably heard this story more than once. This event caused so many near tragedies in my life. I catapulted into body dysmorphia instantly because my beloved mother was obviously very unhappy with me. From that day until the day she died, our relationship was never the same again. Until that day, she was my world. After that day, I knew that I had to earn her approval by looking “right”. Everything in life became connected to my appearance. Was I thin enough? Did I fit in? Could I wear a two piece swimsuit? Every piece of clothing that I ever bought was bought not because I liked it necessarily but based on how thin it made me look. I wouldn’t go around certain people because I thought that they didn’t approve of my looks and worst of all, I sold myself short in my choices of my closest associates because I just assumed that they were the best that I could do. Oh. God… half of a lifetime warped and distorted by one careless, psychotic, opinionated remark… Google “average weight of a four year old”… You will get a large page that says “Forty Pounds”…
The world of body dysmorphia is a tortured existence sometimes. Strangely enough though, the pendulum can swing entirely in the other direction. I believe that it’s a survival instinct. You can spend so many years seeing yourself in a negative light that you begin to see yourself as looking great when you really don’t. Twenty pounds ago I was pretty confident in my appearance. My doctor would make statements like “You’re not REALLY overweight.” when I went to him for things that may have been weight related issues. My blood pressure was high. I had anxiety and insomnia. My legs hurt. I was depressed. I was living in a psychological hell and thought that I couldn’t change it…yep, all weight related. The dysmorphia was hiding my problem from me. I was overweight and suffering the consequences and didn’t even realize it. I thought that I was okay. I was not okay. The blood pressure could have dropped me in a moment and I thought that I was healthy. The anxiety and insomnia were crippling emotionally. I have a high threshold for pain but due to the hell that I was living in , I was subjected to unnecessary, long hours of standing in my kitchen, late at night and I was suffering needlessly because I never dreamed that I could fix it.
A New Beginning
Guess what… I started lifting and got strong, got confident, lost twenty pounds, quit taking ALL prescription meds because I didn’t need them anymore, started sleeping, got happy and got the hell out of hell.
Life is good.
The night that my home was destroyed by three tornadoes with me inside of it was the final night of my captivity, physical and psychological. I had been lifting for a few months at that time and was getting able to see myself as I truly am, strong and finally, healthy. The talons of dysmorphia were chopped at the root as I salvaged my Iron from the wreckage of my home, the first and ONLY personal thing that I took out of that house for many days. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Iron would lead me home. It was changing me. It was creating me . It was tearing the scales from my eyes and forcing me to see myself as I truly am and these days I like what I see. My opinion is mirrored in the eyes of strangers when they stop me and ask, “What do you do?”. I work hard to stay out of the reach of the talons. When I am doing what I know to do, I have a type of confidence that comes from faith in “The Process”. I don’t have to depend on the mirror. I depend on the Iron. It is faithful. It will not fail me. When I do my part, I know that it will do it’s part. When it does it’s part, I know that I am the best that I can be, not perfect, but the best that I can be. Not someone else’s best, MY best. That’s all there is. That’s all we can ask of ourselves. I can rest out of reach of the talons, knowing that they can’t reach me in the shadow of the Iron.
That was a touching and quite personal story by Brenda Sue, and I would suspect there are many more out there who have similiar stories of their own body dysmorphia coming from a negative parental influence. My blog is as much about our sense of well being as it is to assist others to lose weight or to manage their weight in a healthy manner. I believe a healthy mind leads to a healthy body. I know that a healthy diet and vigorous exercise incorporated into your life will only serve to improve it. My personal experience is the better I feel physically, the better I feel mentally. And I can absolutely vouch for how a healthy diet, cardiovascular exercise and strength training has benefited Brenda Sue. She has been my trainee now for about 3 years and her mental outlook and self confidence has only served to provide her with a better image of herself at 64 years old. From her meager 35 pound deadlift at the beginning to repping out deads at 225 pounds, she has been quite a success story for the both of us. Her success at barbell training is obvious, but the larger issue in which Brenda Sue has overcome is a lack in self confidence and in her mental view of her own body.
The other day after Brenda Sue had sent me her strength training videos for critique, we got to discussing body dysmorphia after I had given her advice to correct a few form issues on her lifts along with praise for the good job she did on others. We discussed the changes she is beginning to notice, rather the changes others are noticing in her body since beginning training. I might add, I now have this strong and fit 64 year old nurse on an advanced level powerlifting program. We were discussing the misconception that a lot of women get about strength training bulking them up. and how so many other women could benefit physically and mentally from barbell training. As a part of this discussion, I brought up that men get body dysmorphia too and that there are many other forms beyond that of Anorexia. Another part of this topic of discussion was how our society treats people who have body dysmorphia issues. Please keep in mind that a few of the issues are very minor in nature and quite common, but regardless, they are still dysmorphia issues ranging from a very benign degree to the extreme. It just seems to be human nature that we are going to change our bodies in some manner to improve our appearances.
The most benign form of improving the appearance of our bodies to make the part look more attractive, or in order to draw attention, is ear piercing. I even have a pierced ear. There is nothing wrong with this, nor is there anything wrong with other minor piercings of other body parts. Ear rings and body studs are really just adornments no different than the wearing of rings, except that we have pierced a hole into our body in order to wear them. Before you think I am being critical, ask yourself if this gal pictured below might have some issues where she has taken piercings to the extreme.
Not only does this young woman have an issue involving radical piercings, she has gone into the next couple items, body modifications and tattoos. In full disclosure, I am covered in tattoo ink too, on my arms, chest and back.
Like simple piercings, there is nothing inherently wrong with a little ink. But, would you hire the woman above if you were an employer? Not saying she is totally unemployable through these mods, but her prospects are certainly going to be limited in some markets. We could argue if this is right or wrong all day long. This young lady may be the nicest woman you will ever meet, but there is certainly a dysmorphia issue at play when you might have been an otherwise attractive young woman, and then paid to have this done to your own face.
Moving on, there is another issue which seems to be appearing more often, however, hopefully still pretty rare. There are folks out there who do not have a problem with seeing themselves as fat, who do not feel the over whelming desire to adorn their bodies through piercings, ink and other extreme body modifications. No, these people might look at the finger, toe, or a combination of appendages and get the sense that these parts are extra, not necessary, and therefore need to be amputated. The first time I ever heard of this was on a morning radio show where a man had this issue and was going to video himself freezing his foot with liquid nitrogen before chopping it off with a home made guillotine. I do not know if this gentleman ever got the job done, and I really did not take it seriously until later when I had read that there are others who do carry through with chopping off fingers and toes in order to satisfy their dysmorphic pain. In these cases, the issue is identified as Body Identification Integrity Disorder. How do we view these types of people, are they simply deranged?
The newest dysmorphic issue which we see on the news pretty regular is Transgenderism. I’m not going to wade too far into this issue as it is a huge political wedge issue I really want to avoid on my blog. But there is a reality that there is a dysmorphic issue when a person does not recognize their gender they were born with and want to change into who or what they feel they were supposed to be. For the record, I am not bothered by this. I have two great neighbors around the corner from me who are both male to female transgender lesbians who may or may not have been two homosexual men that lived together before their transitions. I’m really not sure, nor do I care. These two live quietly and do not disturb anyone. How ever it was a little strange to watch the original home owner go from being a retired mechanic to being an over weight, older guy mowing his lawn in a bikini top and daisy duke shorts, to now looking a little like Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith show. Nowadays, are these folks treated by society in general with a good deal of compassion?
There are many dysmorphic issues, too many to list. But I will close out with this one.
What in the Sam Hell is Bigorexia? Well, it’s also referred to as Anorexia in reverse and is quite common among young men in the bodybuilding community. As a reverse of Anorexia, young men who suffer from Bigorexia can be found in the gym pumping heavy iron from many different angles of attack on a muscle with many repetitions. These are the ones who do a bunch of curls and then spend the next ten minutes flexing in the mirror to see if their muscle grew from the last set. They are the guys who are always in search of “The Pump” from lifting weights.
Sadly, many of these young men are suffering from body dysmorphic issues too, and will go to extreme lengths to make their bodies grow. Like I said, this is the exact opposite of Anorexia.
What kind of extremes will they go through and the risks involved? Here goes:
- Many will spend hundreds of dollars a month on legal supplements available from supplement stores such as GNC. There are a very few supplements for weight training which actually provide a benefit, such as creatine, but most supplements are trash. Either their claims for performance improvements are bunk, or the quantity of the supplement being sold is too small to actually help.
- Many young men slight in stature who are considered “Hardgainers”, or guys who have a hard time developing muscle will begin GOMAD. GOMAD is where you drink a Gallon Of Milk A Day in order to enlarge the body. The intent is to grow muscle, but most just end up fat and with possible health issues from their obesity.
- SARM’s, or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are a gray area drug in legality that many are taking now. SARM’s are claimed to do everything that steroids do without all of the health risks. If you believe this claim to be true, then you are a special kind of stupid. There are several forms of SARM’s, all of which were developed to prevent muscle loss and wasting in cancer patients. SARM’s are not necessarily as harmful as steroids, yet many of the bottles are labeled not for human consumption, or for experimental use only. They will soon be against the law every where. This is a good thing as there are many cases of prohormones being sold as SARM’s and lifters suffer bad effects. Prohormones are similar to steroids, yet more destructive, especially if the individual does not know what type he actually took. What many young men using SARM’s do not seem to realize is, that despite being able to buy them online and through some nutritional supplement stores, they are not exactly safe. SARM’s can cause your body to quit naturally producing testosterone and require a post cycle therapy to get it going again, just the same as steroids. Without a post cycle therapy, you are going to suffer until your testosterone levels come back up naturally. If they actually do….
- Steroids, Prohormones and “Human Growth Hormone” are already well known for the damage they can do to your health. Yet many young lifters will go ahead and experiment with them anyhow in order to get them “Gainz” in the gym. Besides bad acne and having your testicles shrink up while becoming impotent sexually, these young men will sometimes end up with a bad case of Gynecomastia. Gyno is when a young man has suppressed his testosterone, and his endocrine system is off kilter and the next think you know, female breast tissue has developed to the point where he now has female breasts. Another issue with steroids is the less stressful method on your liver to take them is by injection. Many lifters do not want to be a “junkie” who injects drugs, but will gladly take steroids in pill form which does much more harm to the liver during the metabolism process.
- Synthol Injections. What is Synthol? It is an oil which was developed for body builders to inject into small muscles in order to round out their appearance for competition. Synthol may be fairly benign in very small injections, I personally feel it is incredibly stupid, but a little does not always do harm. The problem is, there are too many clowns who do not use “just a little” and inflate entire large muscles with it in order to look strong I guess. The problem is, they just look ridiculous, not strong. And some take it to the extreme to where their muscles such as biceps will burst from being either too full, or from abscesses, or a combination of the two. This is simply a special kind of stupid, yet young men with body dysmorphic issues are using this substance.
It is a given that many people view young men who are extreme bodybuilders as insufferable narcissists. Many of them are. But that does not negate the fact that they are also suffering a body dysmorphic issue much like all the other examples given above, including Brenda Sue’s case. These examples are all many sides of the same coin. Only we are talking about a coin’s two sides and the ridging on the edge. Some of these folks are treated with great compassion, while others as freaks. But ask yourself, what went wrong in their lives to give them these issues. Is it a mental health issue where they may benefit from professional help beginning at a young age, or is it a case such as Brenda Sue’s where the mother or other relatives planted the thoughts in their heads they need to change their bodies. Ask yourself, just what can we do as a society to repair the issue where people feel the need to go through extremes in order to change their bodies. How about recognizing the body builder who is using steroids and injecting synthol is little different than a little girl of 4 years old being told she is fat. How about we all do our parts to live a full and healthy life and to encourage and help others to do so as well?
My blog is a labor of love towards my fellow human beings. We now have about 1002 published articles and have been read in 160 countries. All of this is myself, and now Brenda Sue, doing our part to assist others to live a better life through nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and rest. Maybe, if we can help a young parent feel better about their own self image, their child will grow up in a more wholesome environment where they are happy in their own skins. God bless and thank you for reading.