Bikinis & Body Dysmorphia

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If you follow my Instagram, @beauty.beyond.bones, then you know that I was filming an indie film the other weekend.

And here’s what you may not know: it was shot at the beach.

And I was in a bikini the whole time.

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Now, before you instantly get the wrong idea, NO — this was not some trashy, R-rated film. It was an innocent film – PG – It was just set at the beach.

So naturally, my wardrobe was a bikini.

Now, this may not seem like a huge deal to you — I mean, it’s summertime. You hang out at the pool. I mean, just go to the community swim club and you’ll see 6 to 10 women in bikinis. Big whoop.

Well, for someone in recovery from anorexia, this was a huge deal.

Body dysmorphia aside, the fact that I was able to wear a bikini really revealed a lot about where I am in my recovery.

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And it’s not what you may think.

When I was in the trenches of my disease, I would have never for one second even thought about showing my body in a bikini out of sheer shame. Not to mention that I was always freezing, so even at the beach, I was in layers.

So the fact that I wore a bikini in public — and on camera no less — is a huge victory.

But the biggest thing that it helped me to realize, is that I’m finally starting to come to peace with my body.

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Before the shoot, I will admit, I was pretty dang terrified of the thought of being on camera in a bikini. I got a spray tan. I did my nails. I shopped for the perfect bikini that would mask the fact that I don’t have much “going on” up top, nor much “junk in the trunk.” Hell, I was even seriously considering wearing “chicken cutlets” to fill me out a little bit. I mean, I was pretty unnerved and trying everything to alleviate my anxiety.

And as I was trying on my 16th bathing suit in the Macy’s dressing room, I was all of a sudden overcome with an overwhelming sense of clarity.

I realized that none of this matters.

This is my body.

I can pull this and push that and squeeze myself into a sucker-innerbut at the end of the day, this is what I’ve been given.

Take it or leave it.

My body is my body. And it is beautiful. Just the way it is. Because it is a handmade gift.

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In that moment in the dressing room, I realized that, sure, it might be a little nerve wracking to get recorded on film in clothing that contains less fabric than an american flag, but that’s not where my beauty comes from. It comes from my Maker. Living in me.

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We, as a society, have such a skewed sense of beauty, thanks to our hyper photo-shopped media and advertisements. We’re so appearance focused. You need proof? Just take a look at all the filter options on Instagram. And yes, I am super guilty of this too. But the fact of the matter is that not even Gisele looks like Gisele in real life. So we need to give ourselves some grace.

But there was one other thing that I took away from this bikini experience.

I’m gonna be honest. Throughout the entire “preparation process” I was so worried about looking large. I was focusing on those one or two “areas” of my body that I hate and wish I could change. I know you know what I’m talking about. We all have them.

But a comment by my director shed some light on something for me that really hit home. I was out to dinner with him and the cast a few nights before we started filming at this super nice restaurant in midtown, and he told me to order a steak to “put some meat on my bones.” I mean it was a light hearted joke, and he’s not a jerk in any way, shape, or form. But it really hit home.

My body dysmorphia was influencing the way I was prepping for this shoot. It was sending my head all over the place. I was afraid of looking “large,” when the fact is, I should be worried about looking the opposite.

Body dysmorphia is a tricky thing.

Everyone has seen the image of a skeletal girl looking into a mirror and seeing a heavier version of herself in the reflection.

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It’s hard for someone without an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, to actually believe that this is a real thing.

“Come on, it’s a cry for attention.” “They’re just fishing for compliments.” “Drama queen.”

Wrong.

Body dysmorphia is when you imagine and believe that your body appears differently than it actually is. And it is something that is very, very real for suffers of eating disorders, particularly anorexia. And after that dinner, I realized, I’m not as far along in silencing those dysmorphic thoughts than I thought.

And as I sit here and realize that I’ve written an entire post about myself in a bikini, it reminds me of another fact about Body Dysmorphia: Yes, it seems self-absorbed, petty, and narcissistic. But it’s the reality of what an eating disorder does to your self perception.

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ED is the master of lies, and this is just another way he uses to control your mind. So I’ve learned to silence that voice. But just like every day I have to choose recovery, everyday I have to choose to listen to my sound mind – listen to Jesus – and silence ED.

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Body dysmorphia does get better with time and eventually dissipates. But you have to realize, that after being used to seeing your body at such a depleted, skeletal state, your “normal” body does look drastically different and takes a long time to get used to.

In closing, yes, it was a victory that I was able to wear a bikini on camera without feeling shame.

But the fact that I still was worried about being “large” reveals the dysmorphic thoughts I still am battling.

Recovery is a journey. Overcoming body dysmorphia is part of the process. I have come a long way, but there’s still more to go, and every day, God is working more and more on my heart.

Total restoration is possible. Body, Spirit, and Mind. Some areas just take a little more patience and a little more grace than others.

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31 thoughts on “Bikinis & Body Dysmorphia

  1. You did so well to film in a bikini, I know I couldn’t do it!! I think you’re so brave and courageous and I really look up to you. I bet you looked amazing too! Take care xo

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  2. Our daughter struggled with this for a couple of years, and praise God by His mercy and grace she was delivered. I am thankful that He is doing a good work in you to bring you to see yourself as you truly are. God bless you:)

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  3. Hey thanks for the like on my blog. Just had a read of your post Bikinis Body Dismorphia. Such a brave and real post.

    I absolutely love these words, never a truer word said….

    “My body is my body. And it is beautiful. Just the way it is. Because it is a handmade gift”

    x

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  4. Thanks for the like on my post ‘Returning to the Barracks’

    Your post ‘Bikinis and Dysmorphia’ introduced and walked me through the struggles of a person in this situation. Though I have learnt about it in Psych textbooks, its the first time I heard someone speak of it from real life. I’m glad that you see Jesus in the picture.

    I just wanted to share something I have been teaching in my sessions with young people. Genesis – Chapter One not only teaches that in the beginning God created, but that it is ‘God’ who created! That means he was mindful of making me, since he doesn’t make any “manufacturing defects”! If He was mindful, then that means He has a PURPOSE in bringing me to this world.
    Secondly after creating each thing he finds them ‘good’. It is in the final assessment that He finds it ‘very good’- notably after creating human beings. That means I am very good, originally and since I am created by God, I’m created with PERFECTION.
    Then we see God giving humans responsibility, freedom and as we read forward, we find that despite the fall, He calls us out as a special community through Abraham to be a blessing to this world. It means that we are created with POTENTIAL, the ability to shape our own and others’ lives.

    I hope the message of the Bible that you are created with a purpose, with perfection and with potential encourages you. After the fall, Jesus is the one who will enable us to get back to that state as we all journey together to attain fullness in Christ. God bless you.

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  5. Hi Beebs, I have a hard time doing topics like this on a blog. I feel exposed, naked. But another blogger got me talking more today. I’m worried now that everyone who speaks Spanish will know the real me, and I can’t hide behind masks, anymore. What can I do? I’m hated enough for the little people do know. If they knew everything…there might be nuclear bombs going off for no reason all over the world…Oh no! And I would be the one to blame! I don’t think I could deal with that responsibility. Even if I could, the world would probably be better off with me dead than knowing the real me.

    My body image affected me while running cross-country fall of 2002. Antipsychotic medicines had packed on quite a bit of weight in the midriff, and I just felt so sluggish (partly the meds, anyway on the sluggish) sometimes I wondered if I shouldn’t just go to the ocean and call myself a whale. I never liked being fat. I was 4 and had baby fat and walked around the house repeating my refrain, “I’m too fat. I need to lose weight. I’m too fat.” I don’t ever even remember having heard those phrases from anyone else. They just welled up inside me. It was the real me, I guess. I still hate being fat. Stupid meds!

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  6. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and God sees you inside beauty and loves you even when you can’t love yourself
    Continue to allow God to direct your footsteps on this journey, and give you the courage to carry onwards

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