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Adventures in body image

We’ve all read stories about women of a “normal” weight endangering their health because the image they see when they look in the mirror is not that of a thin person. To observers who aren’t anorexic or don’t otherwise have an eating or body image disorder, this seems totally crazy. We think, “How can they not see that they are not fat at all???”

I have never been underweight or anorexic, but I have experienced a similar phenomenon during my own weight loss during the past half year. I’ve lost 20 pounds, and I haven’t been this light since high school.

I must look different because I now have a whole new useless collection of saggy, baggy pants. I must look different because my family, friends and colleagues have commented positively and asked if I've lost weight. I must look different because my wedding rings keep falling off. But in all honesty, I struggle to see anything different when I look in the mirror. Why is that? Is there a mental “mirage” in place over my eyes containing a snapshot of what I looked like more or less for the past 15+ years, and now I can’t see around it to see what I really look like?

I don't expect that I'll ever have an eating disorder, and I appreciate food too much to ever be underweight, but this experience has demonstrated to me how easy it could be to succumb when the scale tells me one thing but my eyes see another.

Body image is a curious thing. We often think of it as referring to how a person feels about herself when looking in the mirror. However, I’m learning that it is the “image” part of the phrase that is more complex than (literally!) meets the eye.

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Comments

dellom1
Oct. 20th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
I think it's a good idea for anyone doing something that could physically change their body to take a before photo. That way when they reach a goal during a process they can either compare what's in the mirror to that original, or maybe take another picture and compare the two.
When you're looking at yourself every day, you don't notice the differences as much. But if you have a true image of how you looked at the start then you have a more correct idea of how far you've come.
ryner
Oct. 21st, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
Looking back, I wish I had. I guess I thought that what I had to lose wouldn't be as dramatic a change as, say, someone trying to lose 150 lbs, but it probably would have helped with the self-image thing!

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