My eyes slowly flutter open as the light of a new day shines through the crack in my window. I can already feel the effect from last night’s binging. I place my heavy feet on the floor, and summon all of the strength within me to get myself out of bed. I walk toward the bathroom, my own little secret hell. Mirrors telling me I’m not good enough, the scale telling me to just give up eating in general. My arms feel as though they have grown twice in size overnight. My face feels as though I am a squirrel preparing to hide away nuts for the winter. My stomach is bloated and my hips bulge out. I stand in front of the mirror and do all that I can to fight the urge to want to take my fist and shatter the image in front of me.
One by one, I start picking apart each of the pieces that make me feel uncomfortable. First, I begin with the weight. I hop onto the scale: another pound gained, and my heart begins to race. What will I do to lose that pound? I should probably just not eat for the entire day in order to make up for everything I ate just last night. I go back in front of the mirror and begin pinching at my fat. My love handles fill my hands and I wish so desperately that I could just rip them off. Next, I stand sideways, sucking my stomach in out and pushing it back out, only getting nauseous at the fact that it’s nowhere near flat. People claim that when they look at me, they see a girl at a perfect weight for her height and age. What I see when I look in the mirror, and what I feel down my bones, is far worse than that. How can they not see the cow that I am?
Next, I begin checking my pores, looking for any new blemish that may have appeared overnight. At one point in time, I had flawless skin. The occasional monthly breakout usually consisted of one or two pimples, but would soon fade away. Yet, despite there being nothing there, I would still search my skin for one tiny imperfection. Now, over years of damage from not washing my face properly, and the torture of squeezing each pore to the point of it being nothing but blood, my face has become a map of scars for each time I have felt the urge to fix the imperfection staring back at me. My therapist tells me to make myself walk away from the mirror when I feel the urge to pick my skin, but the urge consumes me. I see one tiny pimple and decide to pop it. With its release comes the release of my anxiety as well. But one is never enough. I see hundreds of bumps in need of being dug at, popped, and gotten rid of.
I move on to my teeth and my eyebrows, always infuriated with how they’re never exactly perfect. So many people have told me what beautiful teeth I have, but how do they not see the slight crookedness? How do they not see that one tooth is bigger than the other? Or the chips in some of my teeth, making them far from perfect. Far from what I need them to be. I brush my teeth, rinse with mouth wash, and floss—all while observing each tooth from every angle possible. Did this tooth shrink over night? I just hit my top tooth off a bottom tooth, did it chip it? I pull out my tweezers and begin my obsession with my eyebrows. I can never get them to be identical to one another, but determined, I stand in front of that mirror for a countless amount of time plucking each individual hair off of my face in hopes that just one pluck and I’ll finally have symmetrical eyebrows.
It doesn’t stop there. Oh, no, not even close. Body dysmorphia completely consumes my everyday life. I check my nose to make sure that it hasn’t grown over night. I stand in front of the mirror and pin back my ears, debating on if I should get surgery to fix the one that slightly sticks out a bit more than the other. I pull back the skin on my face, trying to see what it would look like to have youthful skin like I did just five years ago. I check my hands, the wrinkles in them seemingly becoming deeper by the hour. My one breast is bigger than the other. My one ass check is bigger than the other. My one eye isn’t the exact same shape as the other. My right dimple is smaller than my left one. My mind begins to swirl as the imperfections manifest into my brain.
And then the checking. Oh god, the checking. Did I just chip my tooth? Let me take ten pictures and compare them to the ten I took just a month ago to make sure it looks the same. What about my smile? Did my teeth move? Take a picture and compare. Smooth your eyebrows over in case they are messed up. Do you have anything in your teeth? Get your floss. Is my skin getting better? Take ten more pictures so I can compare. Sitting down and I can feel the fat roll over my jeans, I have to pinch it and push it back in otherwise everyone will judge me.
Checking, degrading, checking, degrading. Who is that monster in the mirror? I woke up yesterday and I thought I recognized myself for a second, but I don’t know this person today. It’s always someone different in the mirror looking back at me. I have body dysmorphia, and my struggle is so much worse than words can describe. Because no matter how many times you compliment my beauty, all I can see is that monster looking back at me.