Reverse Body Image Issues

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When people talk about “body dysmorphia” or “body image issues,” they’re usually referring to the phenomenon of perceiving one’s body to be much larger than it actually is. People suffering from anorexia often report feeling several sizes larger than they actually are, and I think we’ve all seen the “distorted mirror” shot in educational videos that illustrates how people with body dysmorphia view themselves.

I think many people–especially in Western cultures–might have the opposite problem. I know I do. I generally feel pretty good about myself on most days, especially when wearing properly-fitting clothes. I consider myself attractive, and while of course there are plenty of things I don’t love about my body, on most days I feel good about the way I look. Until I see a picture of myself taken candidly, when I didn’t intentionally control the angles. Or when I step on the scale and realize I actually do have 50 pounds to lose.

I’m not saying it’s bad to feel good about myself, but it’s sometimes a slippery slope into the Land of Denial. If I’m not doing well on my diet and stop losing weight, I tell myself, “Oh well, I look pretty good. I’m just big boned. And besides, I carry it well. No one would ever guess I weigh as much as I do.” Those are EXCUSES.

The truth is I’m very overweight. No way (or weigh) around it. It’s just hard to create that sense of urgency to really get the weight off when I’m waffling between wanting to lose and accepting myself as overweight for life. I know I don’t want to live my life at this weight, but I keep sabotaging myself in small but important ways. That piece of bread with dinner? That small bowl of cereal as a late night snack? Having some candy at the movies? All of these little indiscretions give body just enough of a boost to avoid actually tapping into stored fat. If I really want this weight to come off, I need to be completely committed. And I think that requires admitting to myself that I don’t look or feel as good as I think I do.

Has anyone had similar issues?

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