Body Dysmorphia and Being Photographed

I am a person who suffers from body dysmorphic disorder and I am telling you, the camera is my bogeyman. I hated to be photographed since I can remember. It all started with the kindergarten and school class photos. I always stood out as the fat kid and I remember enviously looking at other girls and how small and delicate they were. I hated myself and I just wanted to be like them. Since then I have tried to avoid cameras at all costs. When I didn't have a choice (graduations, ID cards, yearbooks, competitions, etc...) I was hoping that this time maybe they will turn out better. They never did. I cried countless times in the bathroom after seeing the photos. I could never believe that I looked like that and I was in pain. Yes, it was unbearable pain and shame. The pain of grieving the person that I could have been in that photo and the shame of being lazy and weak to lose weight and look decent.

Looking at the photos taken of me I cannot see and appreciate the moment the photo was taken in because I am occupied with looking at all the things that are wrong with me. I could never look at my wedding photos for what they are. It breaks my heart but all I see is my fat legs, chubby arms, horrifyingly ugly face. People say "don't be vain, just appreciate the memory!" but I can't. It completely ruins my mood and I feel like the ugliest most unattractive person in the world. Do I want to feel like this? Of course not! Well, it's not that much a question of choice. The ugly picture of me will burn in my memory cruelly binding itself to every thought I have so I cannot do anything without remembering it and feeling horrendous all the time. Thoughts like: "They think you are so ugly", "You should have never come here, you are just making a fool of yourself", "Even the children think that you are ugly", and "Your face is just the most hideous thing in this room". My unhappiness sticks to those around me as well and poisoning the mood of my loved ones. Great, now I have to bear the burden of ruining everybody else's mood as well. So I made a plan. It's simple... Don't look at the photos! Then of course the person who took them will get offended and the mood is ruined once again. So I made another plan. Be open about my struggle with those who are near enough to me. It goes something like this: "I am sure that the photo you have taken is amazing, but photographs of myself are triggering for me so I'd rather not look." Of course there will always be some people whose emotional IQ is non-existent and they will insist on looking ("Oh come on, I promise you this is a good one!") or they will accuse you of being vain. In that case, walk away. I will not put my mental health on the line so somebody else can be happy about their photos. Nor should you.

BDD is a very serious condition where you have to know what triggers you because it has an overwhelming effect on the quality of your life. I advise you to sit down and go on an inner journey to identify the things that trigger your body dysmorphia. Here are mines, maybe it will help you to find yours: full-body mirrors, photos of me, reflective surfaces, movies, social media, celebrity culture, leggings, tight dresses, skirts, being around certain people, shopping for trousers, certain foods, some songs. As you can see triggers are everywhere and most certainly you can't eliminate all of them, but you can decrease them and prepare for them in advance. Set firm boundaries and be unapologetic about them. You are creating your safe zone, after all, it is only yours and it is only safe if you don't let others violate it. Don't be shy to cover the mirrors, to let people know that you don't want to be photographed, or to decline going out shopping with your friends. It is fine, you will be fine. Aside from eliminating your triggers, I also suggest building some tolerance against those that you cannot eliminate. For example, you are able to choose not to wear skirts if they are triggering you, but you can't just kick that mean co-worker out the window. Read, educate yourself on how to handle people and situations, and respond instead of reacting. Be conscious, be prepared and be unapologetic.

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I don't even know where to start. I wish I could just shut my mind up for an hour. Whatever I do in the back of my mind there is the feeling of being fat, inadequate, and ugly. For a long time I just