If you're unfamiliar with BDD, in a nutshell it means that you physically see your body differently than it is. It's not vanity or superficiality. It's an actual distortion. Imagine looking at yourself in a fun house mirror. Now obviously it's not distorted in those same proportions (I think that even for those with BDD, if our nose looked five times the size of our hand we'd realize that the image wasn't entirely accurate). But we look different to ourselves, and notably so, than we do to others. It can cause almost antisocial behavior for fear of others seeing our flaws. Now to clarify, I think many of us are our own worst critics, and sadly I think that's particularly true of women. And perhaps it's true that the majority of people don't see their own beauty the way their friends and loved ones do. But for those with BDD, it goes beyond being tough on yourself. It's a physical and mental contortion of body image that's downright dangerous.
Recently I was in a situation in which I felt a twinge of my former insecurity return. In the presence of someone who is technically in much better shape than I am, and in a situation in which I really felt I needed and wanted to look my absolute best, I felt inferior. Briefly, I let it get to me. I momentarily scolded myself that the workouts I'd been doing clearly weren't enough, and ridiculed myself for the way I've been eating (admittedly I genuinely could be eating healthier). But then I took a good long look at the other person and you know what? I don't give a flying f*ck what other people think about how she looks. I look better. And you know why? Because I'm real. I'm not perfect, nor am I spending massive amounts of time trying to be. I am muscular enough - sometimes to my detriment when it comes to dresses with zippers up the back (athletic ladies you know what I'm talking about). I have maybe a two pack, four pack on a good day. I'll never have a six pack unless it involves craft beer because I have a weirdly high belly button and gives my ab area a funny shape. I'm short. That's genetics - I'm 5'0 and one of the tallest women in my family. Not much I can do about that and I'm not going to break my ankles in stilettos because... why should I? I have curves. Particularly extra on the lower half of my body and not quite enough on the upper half, but enough that I clearly am curvy. The thing is, women's body's weren't made to look as muscular as a mans with few curves. We have hips for bearing children, for those who would like to. We have breasts for feeding those children, for those who choose to go that route. And when I have a child/children one day... well I certainly won't be any closer to looking like perfection. Because, while I'll try to keep healthy and exercise regularly, I'm not going to have the time to spend hours a day trying to look like I'm on the red carpet. I'll be too busy spending time with my family. Making memories that don't involve a treadmill or a weight stack or some horribly unhealthy fitness/diet trend that people swear by that I won't even get started on.
Now, I'm all about being healthy and having fitness goals. Whether you play a sport or run marathons or do zumba in your living room, as long as it's a HEALTHY lifestyle, then I say go for it. And if your body isn't curvy, or your goal is to bulk up, then that's fine too. You don't have to look like me just as I don't have to look like you. You can love your body as much as I love mine. Because it's yours, you've worked hard for it, and it's perfect for YOU. Trying to (metaphorically) wear someone else's body because you think that's what people like is like trying to wear a pair of shoes that everyone's gushing over but are two sizes off. They might be perfect for them, but clearly don't fit you, and eventually you'll probably end up hurting yourself.