The Dimensions Issue

Page 18


Body Dysmorphia: Performing Perfection Words by Maya Halabi Photos by Maya Dandashi


lashback to fifth grade. I was a true “scene” girl, per say. I rocked knee-high converse (that today, I wish

I could still fit into) and flouncy, short, neon-colored Hot Topic tutus, despite how much my mother resented going in that store. I struggled to find confidence in my tiny circle glasses and asymmetrical bangs. Regardless of my lack of trendiness, my phases in fashion began there. Middle school was the “trial and error” phase, when I wore anything my friends wore. My apathy for style was deeply embedded in my lack of body confidence. I looked to the gym for support, where my new-found obsession in weightlifting began. As a competitive dancer and volleyball player at the time, body image and physical fitness were of the utmost importance to me. What began as a hobby to improve my athletic ability soon spiraled into a deeper dilemma: an eating disorder with symptoms of body dysmorphia. Often, the two go hand-inhand. If you find yourself having obsessive thoughts of your food or calorie intake, partaking in binge-eating cycles and purposely restricting yourself from specific food groups, you might have an eating disorder. If you consistently dissect your body, taking extensive measures to fix and alter how you look, you might have body dysmorphia. These two disorders look and feel different to everyone, but share the idea that because you dislike a part of yourself you can find control through the toxicities of disordered eating habits and thought patterns.

Fil-A waffle fries with a salad. It was one or the other. I cycled into new diet and food restriction phases often and assumed this behavior was normal because I justified it as a “fitness regimen.” Whenever you start losing weight and seeing new emerging muscles you’ve never seen before, you and everyone around you start to put you on a pedestal: your family, friends, and the people who comment on your progress photos. You may ascend to cloud nine, changing how you dress to ensure you’re showing off all your hard

Thoughts of food and fitness lingered in the back of my mind as I dedicated myself more to the gym and new diet regimens. Sinking into an eating disorder isn’t simply about wanting to change how you look. It’s widely formed by your environment and others’ belief of who you are. You begin to find a sense of control apart from the chaos of life which consumes you. I started to believe that I couldn’t eat Chick-

work. But as I stated before, these thoughts dawdle in the back of your mind. Life is going on and you’re evolving in other ways, too. In eighth grade, I was learning what habits and hobbies would propel me to define myself in the years to come. Aside from the gym, I began listening to wide varieties of music (I discovered Kanye this year, fascinatingly) and became more


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