Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Empowering The Mum Bod

Did you know that one in every hundred people suffer with BDD throughout the UK? That’s only an estimate mind you, as the NHS believe there are many more, like, me who are hiding their condition.

The first time I fully became aware that I had a problem was after my second baby was born. Nothing looked right (or so I thought) and my nose seemed to be extra pointy and my thighs extra large. Of course, I was the only one who could see it. To my husband, all he saw was what was really there. An eight odd stone newly given birth mum squinting her eyes at the mirror hoping the image would change.

He thought I was normal. What normal woman doesn’t want to slim down quickly?

He was wrong.

See, I’ve always had a body image problem. There’s this prom picture of me at sixteen in this beautiful purple dress. To everyone else I look great, if not a tad skinny. To me, I look horrendous. I instantly see the beak like nose, the Dumbo flappy ears and the tree trunk legs that never seem to slim down. I look fat. But that’s the problem with BDD. You fixate on things. Things that don’t really exist.

I’d had this disorder for a long time, I just didn’t know it then.

The first time I heard about it was from an article I read on Lilly Allen in 2011. It said that how fat she thought she was, that every time she looked in the mirror she wished for a gastric band and lipo. I was appalled funnily enough. Here was a beautiful celebrity who had money, looks and talent yet couldn’t see. How ironic then that five years on its exactly what I suffer with, like Lilly Allen, every single day.

I’d shrugged my body image issues off for years, until, at the second baby’s six week check I stormed out, proclaiming that the NHS should be pleased I’m slimming down and not fat, and telling me to slow my progress was not helpful.

I was fixated. It got so bad that I started refusing pictures with the kids and would stare at myself every morning, inspecting every nook and cranny of my body and dreaming what I would change. Bigger boobs, a nose reduction, lipo on my thighs; you get the gist.

Looking back now I’m pretty sure that even if I had those things I wouldn’t have been happy. I would have found something else to fixate on. How close my eyes were together or my chubby arms? Who knows?

But now as a mum of two beautiful girls who I have inadvertently become role models for, I’ve realised that I need to try and love myself as much as they love me.

Nothing terrifies me more then passing this dreadful disorder on to them. What if my intense staring and probing leads them to doubt themselves?

Fight for scales

It broke my heart last week when my three-year-old brought the scales to me and asked to be weighed. Not thinking much of it (she loves just climbing on and off them and watching the numbers flash) she asked me if she was heavy? She’s three. I quickly told her that she’s perfect and that it didn’t matter what she looked like, that as long as she felt good about herself then that was all that mattered. She accepted it of course, she’s three, and went on to chase her sister round the room at a mile a minute.

But it got me thinking. Where has my TV restricted three-year-old got this notion of being heavy from? Have I passed it on, without thinking?

Since coming out the other side, this time, I realise that I do have a problem but I won’t let BDD rule me anymore.

I can’t say my body image problems stem from being a mum, but I think they come from the long existing pressure that is put on young girls to be slim, and now mums too.

You only have to flick open a magazine or read TMZ to see the pressure that celeb mums are under to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight.

After having kids, being thin SHOULD be the last thing on a mum’s mind.

I’m slowly learning how to love my body. I’ve never done it and don’t know how but after giving birth to two amazing kids I’m really going to try. I want my girls to grow up in a world where women are embraced however they look.  I want other mums, regardless of stretch marks or size to embrace their body, flaws and all.

Mum’s, your body is an amazing thing. Embrace the mum bod. Show it off with pride. Tell your kids that they are perfect just the way they are.

#EmbraceTheMumBod

#BodyShaming

#BDD

 

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15 comments

  1. It doesn’t surprise me that in today’s society, BDD is as common as you say. The expectations on people, in particular women, is unnerving. Like you said, it begins so early on as well which is disappointing. Thanks for bringing this to a forefront.
    Thanks so much for linking with #KCACOLS! I hope you come back next Sunday!
    Tori
    http://www.themamanurse.com

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  2. I feel like I’ve got to a stage in my life where I don’t really care what my body looks like, I care more about how healthy it is inside and how well it functions. I want to work more on being healthy and loving myself 🙂 #kcacols

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  3. I have struggled with eating disorders in the past. My biggest fear is passing on my hang ups to my kids too. They notice everything, don’t they? I have one daughter where ‘food is fuel’ and one who doesn’t have a ‘full’ button and so it has been really hard not to make an issue of it. However, she loves her sport so I just let it go and not worry. SHe is happy and healthy. But, yes, I want them to know they are loved unconditionally. That they are beautiful FULL STOP. Psalm 139 sums it up if I ever had a doubt.

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  4. Thank you for sharing such an honest piece. I cannot imagine what struggling through BDD must be like, but as the commenter above said, I’m not surprised the numbers are as high as they are. I really wish this pressure of how you look would just be over and more emphasis would be placed on health: mental and physical. Maybe one day…
    #KCACOLS

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  5. i have no doubt many more people suffer with this than anyone is aware of! I think you are doing amazing to be sending out such a positive message to your girls. #kcacols

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  6. Oh gosh in this day and age it’s hardly surprising that so many women, young girls and even men feel this way. I think we as parents/role models have to be more aware of what we say around our children etc. As well as teaching them to be happy and confident with their bodies by showing them that we are with ours. I’m guilty of telling my girls that they can’t have any of dieting shakes as it’s mommy’s skinny shake. Or no thank-you sweetheart mommy can’t have that as she’s on a diet. I think I really need to start thinking about what I say before I say it.xx #KCACOLS

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    1. I’m exactly the same! I always look in the mirror and say “oh no look at my fat arms/legs/tum” right in front of the kids!! What must my 3 year old be thinking when i do this? I don’t want how she looks to be an issue for her. I want her to be happy in her body, regardless of if its a slim one or a larger one. #KCACOLS

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  7. There’s too much pressure to be too many things. You are amazing.. Why does it seems easier o say this about someone else than about myself? Maybe that’s your point? Maybe I’m amazing too… Stretch marks and all. #KCACOLS

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    1. You are amazing, all of us are and that’s what i was trying to say. There is so much pressure put on us mums to jump back into our normal clothes after giving birth that it’s no wonder most women have some sort of eating disorder or complex. It just really makes me sad is all. #KCACOLS

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  8. Such a powerful post. I relate to this so much – I never really cared that much about weight, etc, until I went to university and it just became all I cared about. It upsets me looking back to think of everything I missed out on because of it. I put a ton of weight on having Marianna and want to get it off, but I’m trying not to obsess over it. x #fortheloveofblog

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    1. It’s so hard isn’t it? I try not to let my girls see me stress out over my weight but i know i do it without thinking. I just hope that i can get better at hiding it from them as i would hate for them to feel how i do when i look into the mirror! #fortheloveofblog

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  9. This was beautiful to read, though sad.
    One thing that struck me was the fact that you wonder where your three year old got the idea that she might be heavy… I have noticed a LOT of people comment on children’s sizes, whether it be build, weight or height. All four of my kids are built very differently, and people are always saying things like “Oh you are SO skinny, there’s nothing to you!” to my eldest, then turning to my second and saying, “You’re a solid little girl, aren’t you?” It is so upsetting, because even though I jump in and say their bodies are healthy and just right for them, I feel like the damage is already being done.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Yeah, as a mum of two girls i’m so conscious that i don’t say anything regarding food or weight. At 3, my eldest picks up everything and i hate that it could lead to something more. My husband doesn’t get it, but then coming from a household of boys i suppose it was different, less pressure to be thin i suppose. It’s really sad the pressure that’s put on women to be slim. We all come in different shapes and sizes and should be appreciated because of that!

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  10. So many people today are obsessed with body image, and there is such a hype in the media (well the Daily Mail) to quickly restore your body image after having a baby. Living with BDD sounds so hard, and I’m so glad that you are starting to love your body. I find it slightly alarming that your 3 old wanted to weigh herself, maybe she’s just curious, however there is such a focus with our health care providers on the weight of our children – so perhaps this is where it has come from. We are all beautiful no matter what size and shape, and what’s important is loving your children and being happy. Thanks so much for joining us at #fortheloveofBLOG, I hope you come back to join the party next week. Claire x

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