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Body Dysmorphia

On my Yahoo Low-Carb_in_the_UK mailing list we have far ranging discussions.

What started this one off was a discussion about a “Kilroy” programme about Obesity (Jeremy Kyle has taken on this Mantle since Kilroy Silk’s TV days).

As you would expect, this was no sympathetic view, but a ridicule session, along the standard lines of fat people have no will power or self control…

We know this to be carb addiction… You know what? I cannot wait for the day the rest of the world wakes up to this fact!

Anyway, this got us talking about “self image”, and Elaine wrote this rather wonderful essay…

So, I give you, Elaine’s take on Body Dysmorphia:

From: {hazeymaze6@*****.com}
It was always something I wondered about – whether, because anorexic women look in the mirror and see a fat person, how do they view me?

I hardly even notice that I’m fat and even when losing weight, I can’t really tell the difference.

This is just another facet of the same thing – body dysmorphia. We have an image of our own body, and, no matter how we change our body, the image stays the same. Anorexics have a body image that is fat, sometimes huge.

There was an experiment performed with a “flexible mirror”, which the anorexic person could control. They moved the mirror until the reflection that they saw was the same as their body image – in their mind the mirror was then “flat”, and non-distorting. It was amazing how “fat” the people with anorexia saw themselves as, – and how thin the “fat” people thought they were! It was a consistent thing, with many people all showing similar mis-conceptions. I know that my body image is thinner than I am, and despite the weight that I have lost, my body image and I still have a long way to go before we coincide!

If you have lost weight, but your “body image” hasn’t, you may have body dysmorphia too. In our case, it could prove fatal if we fail to accept the evidence of the scales – our body image tells us we are thinner than reality, so we can afford to eat a little extra food, and so we could become morbidly obese. Thankfully we have all accepted that reality and image do NOT coincide – otherwise we would not be here! For those with anorexia, their dysmorphia works the opposite way. They are desperate to shrink their body image, and can not accept that their body image and reality are not the same. For them, too, body dysmorphia can be a killer.

Would any program stand in front of a group of anorexics and say “eat more – you’ll be healthier”? Not today. It’s accepted that anorexia is a serious illness with deep seated psychological roots. All these have to be addressed before anorexia can be conquered. But Obesity? Well, obese people are just plain greedy and weak willed, and so any humiliation can be directed at them.

We know better.

We must just hope that, eventually, those ignorant medical professionals who dismissed anorexics in the past, but who now accept the serious and multifaceted nature of their disease, will learn that obesity may have similar deep seated causes.

Maybe then we will get the respect that we deserve when we go into the doctors surgery.
When we speak to a dietician.
When we appear on a TV program desperate for help.

Lets hope that, eventually, those people who have been hurt and humiliated find their way to this healthy way of eating, as we have, and turn their lives, if not their body images, around.

Body dysmorphia is a killer. Let’s be grateful that we have ours under control.

Elaine in Cumbria

Image used, “It’s All A Matter of Perception” VIII by Laura Lewis
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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