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?
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.