Early Signs of Body Dysmorphia

With social media and the digital world constantly presenting us with the the “perfect image” in the eye of society, more and more children, and even adults, are developing body dysmorphia and eating disorders. In the realm of health and beauty blogging, it’s often easy to get caught up in the glamorous facade, presenting an image of confidence and perfection. But behind the scenes, many of us face our own struggles with self-image and self-worth. Today, I want to share a deeply personal story about my battle with a body dysmorphic mindset, and how my journey through compassion and vulnerability can help you and our wider community.

The Realization that I was in the Grips of Body Dysmorphia as a Young Adult

It seems like a lot of women in my age group (older millennials) have struggled with the same thoughts and have gone to extreme lengths to achieve the early 2000’s Victoria Secret model look. Remember phenergan? Girls used to sell fat burning pills laced with phenergan in the bathroom at my high school. We were all trying to get our hands on the stuff. “Starving to be Thin.” Sounds like a lifetime movie title. Well ladies, you may not have realized it, I have to admit, after a trip down memory lane I only recently realized it myself,  this mindset walks the line dangerously close to the body dysmorphia mindset.

The other day my best friend said “I wish I was as fat as the last time I thought I was fat.” I agreed that I felt the same. We started talking about when we were in college and were in our “body prime.” We pulled up photos of ourself from our old albums on Facebook. These were some of the photos that came up. I was instantly concerned. Concerned for the girl in those photos. Concerned for the younger me. I wish someone would have said something. I wish, (and am thankful) I’m not “as fat” as the last time I thought I was fat.

I am proud to say that while I am always very aware of my diet, it is for the right reasons and no longer for the concerns that I had as a younger adult. As an 15-27 year old, I was worried about being loved, being judged, being valued. The boys idolized the toothpick thin of the time and would body shame the girls at school. I heard a group of boys once say, “If you can pinch the waist, it’s too much.” That is when I ditched the scale and started pinching my waist every morning. I remember getting so down on myself if I could pinch, what I felt to be, too much skin and would head straight to the gym after school to get in a mile run on the track and at least 300 sit-ups.

In high school, I would count my calories and cap them between 500 and 800 a day. I didn’t care about where the calories came from. My go to was normally a small bag of Doritos and other “small bags” of junk food that I could get my hands on to hold me over until the next day. I would eat dinner, but in small amounts. Then on day 4 or 5 of this routine, I would reward myself with a full dinner, sometimes even getting seconds. I think this is how my parents didn’t notice. I wasn’t starving myself, just placing extreme controls in place.

The weird thing is, I never viewed women that were my size or bigger as overweight, but somehow, when I looked in the mirror, I thought I was fat. The only person I judged or even noticed weight on, was myself. The thought of it now is sickening. 

It wasn’t until my first child that I had the sudden realization, I now have the life of another human in my hands. I realized that I needed to “check myself.” I needed to feed this little human with my body, therefore I needed to take care of my body. After weening him from my body, I needed to feed him solids, therefore I needed to be a good role model to him in the way I nourish and take care of my body by eating vegetables, proteins, and fruit with him. Like all women after a baby, my body no longer looked like it did pre-baby, and for a girl that was obsessed with the unhealthy “pinch test,” it was a hard pill to swallow.

I knew I could either wallow in the worry of all the insecurities I had before caused by a body dysmorphic mindset, or I could be kind to myself, get to know, and be proud of the new me. 

The Turning Point: Embracing Vulnerability

It was only when I dared to be vulnerable, both with myself and with others, that I began to find healing. Here are some key steps in my journey:

1. Self-Compassion:

I learned to speak to myself with kindness and empathy, as I would to a friend. I realized that compassion for myself was the first step in overcoming this mindset. Instead of harsh self-criticism, I started offering gentle understanding.

2. Seeking an Alternative Focus

I joined Memphis Fitness Kickboxing with one of my friends, researched as much as I could about the nutrition derived from healthy food intake, and got myself in the kitchen to meal prep. I started focusing on fueling my body to meet my fitness goals instead of depriving my body to fit into the box I had created for myself.

3. Sharing My Story

As I gained confidence and insight, I decided to share my journey. I wanted to break the stigma around Body Dysmorphia and let others know they weren’t alone. Being this vulnerable was daunting, but it opened the door to a community of understanding and support.

4. Fostering Compassion in My Community

Through my platform, I’ve strived to create a space where vulnerability is celebrated and compassion is at the core. I encourage my readers and followers to embrace their own vulnerabilities and reach out for help when needed. This blog started as a diary about my business ventures, but has evolved into so much more than sharing business tips. It has become a space where I can share humanity and face reality with others. It has also become a place where I am held accountable. By telling my story, it is no longer in the depths of my being, but placed in the minds of the reader, and something about that gives me a sense of responsibility to be mindful of the dysmorphic mindset.

A huge part of my healing from a body dysmorphic mindset was changing my mindset. I would recite daily affirmations in the morning and spend time in the evenings reading about self care and self love to restructure my thought process. I also began viewing my body as a gift, a “transportation method” that God has given my soul to enjoy this earthly experience. As a Christian, this helped me to be mindful of the way I treated myself. After all, who would dare destroy a gift from God?

Take that for a pinch test! (image above) Looking back, I realize that my body dysmorphic mindset was about control. I can see now that my mind was cracking the whip on my body and how destructive this mindset truly was. In my experience, body dysmorphia can exist in extreme to mild conditions. It is important to identify if your ideas about your body are unhealthy, and sometimes this will even need an outsider (professional) to pinpoint.

Taking care of my body and striving for ultimate health is my forever goal and this year, as a late 30s lady, I am trying a fitness plan that best fits my body as I approach the middle stage of life. I have learned to use measurements for tracking progress, not to obsess over the numbers. I have learned that total body health isn’t just the food you consume, but is a compilation of mind, body, and soul health. I have learned that my body is pretty miraculous, no matter what era I am in my life’s journey.

How You Can Find Healing from Body Dysmorphia and Help Others:

If you or someone you know is struggling with BDD or any mental health challenge, here’s how you can find healing and support:

1. Seek Professional Guidance

Consult with mental health professionals who specialize in body image issues. They can provide tailored therapies and strategies to cope with BDD.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Be gentle with yourself and challenge negative self-talk. Self-compassion is a powerful tool in healing.

3. Share Your Story

Consider sharing your journey with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. Speaking openly about your struggles can be liberating.

4. Build a Support Network

Surround yourself with people who uplift and understand you. Join support groups or online communities that focus on mental health and body image.

What Body Dysmorphia is Not

According to Cleveland Clinic, “Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health condition that disrupts how you see and feel about your own body and appearance.” This doesn’t mean that if you enjoy working out, makeup, Botox, dying your hair, or any other cosmetic procedure, that you have Body Dysmorphia Disorder. The stark difference is, to someone with BDD, there isn’t a “fix” that will satisfy the disappointment they feel from what they see in the mirror, “which can cause severe disruptions in their life and undermine their mental and physical well-being.” – Cleveland Clinic

My journey with Body Dysmorphia has taught me the transformative power of compassion and vulnerability. By sharing our struggles, we not only heal ourselves but also create a community where others can find solace and support. Remember that you are never alone in your journey, and your vulnerability can be a beacon of hope for others. Together, we can break down the walls of shame and stigma and build a world where compassion and understanding reign supreme.

Want to share this story with your friends and family on Pinterest?
Pin the image below to our favorite health and fitness board.

Hi! I'm Alexandra

I am an entrepreneur, author, and mom of 3 from Memphis, Tennessee. I fill my days pursuing the dream of being my own boss as a full time influencer and sensory marketing specialist while spending my evenings playing superheros, helping with homework, making dinner, and tucking in my littles.

Leave a Comment


  1. 9.20.23
    Amanda Bowling said:

    Thank you for sharing this story! I have struggled with body dysmorphia at different levels since I was 14. It truly is disabling at times and a battle fought in the dark. Many don’t understand but I have found healing in self compassion. As you said I would never think of someone else in the negative way I view myself. Sharing my story helps me abs hopefully others as well!

    • 9.24.23
      Alexandra Nicole said:

      I am so glad you enjoyed my post. It is always nerve-wracking being so vulnerable, but if it helps someone along the way, it is worth it! I agree with healing in self compassion. I always remind myself to “be kind to myself.” I totally get it!