Because it’s a lie that we anorexics and bulimics can’t help but believe.  It’s a lie that we struggle to negotiate day in and day out – sometimes without even realizing it.

Because it’s something we don’t have any control over.  We don’t do it on purpose.  We’re not naturally vain or self-obsessed.  But our distorted perception makes us anxious and afraid, so we do our best to cope.

Because it’s a cunning and baffling side of our disease that works in a ruthless cycle: we see ourselves as fat, so we diet and exercise; when we lose weight, our distortion becomes even worse, so we diet and exercise even more.  It’s a lie that keeps us sick.

Because it scares our friends and family to death when we express our feelings of self-disgust and our fears of being fat, while anyone else can clearly see we are dangerously thin.

Body_Dysmorphic_Disorder-1 Because it makes us hide under heaps of clothing and make-up, retreat into isolation and avoid social interaction, pick and prod at our perceived flaws, diet and exercise relentlessly, badger our peers and loved ones for reassurance and consolation, resort to cosmetic or plastic surgery – and maybe even suicide, when nothing else works.

Because its “imagined ugliness” convinces us that we are unlovable and imperfect, that we don’t belong anywhere, that we are undeserving of life’s gifts.  These convictions poison our personalities, annihilate our ambitions, and reduce us to a state of raw depression and self-hate – a hole that we obsequiously dig deeper.

A curious observation I encountered quite unexpectedly was that while the mirror reflected the worst of my distorted perceptions, photographs showed a shockingly accurate representation of my image.  A snapshot I dug up one day gave me a painfully clear picture of my bony frame, with its protruding ribs, elbows, cheekbones, knees, and collar bone, and over which stretched my sickly yellow and blue skin with every vein and tendon visible.  Not a pretty sight, but one of much-needed, unequivocal truth.

body dysmorphia comic

It’s interesting that even rational, mentally-sound people are startled or surprised by photographic portraits of themselves.  I wonder if this is because they are much more accustomed to seeing their mirrored image, their reflections in glass or water, which is actually a sort of reversed representation – the left eye on the left, the right on the right.  Photos, on the other hand, capture a truthful image that shows the left eye on the right, and the right on the left.  It seems like the trickery of the mirror has a greater effect on our brains than we realize, and for those with body dysmorphia, the effect is clearly exponentially worse.

When we look in the mirror, we see a true reflection of ourselves.

But for thousands of young women and men, the mirror has a darker side. Rather than a true reflection, theirs is a distorted reality. For them, the mirror is a window into a more sinister, shadowy world. A world where you can never be too thin, you can never measure up, and every meal is a battle.

In partnership with the medical community, we are dedicated to helping young women and men get to the other side of eating disorders, returning them to a world where the image in the mirror matches the true one within.