How to deal with body dysmorphia

Seb Grynko
7 min readOct 29, 2020

When I was a teenager, I was prone to acne. Generally speaking, most teens have acne for 1, 2, 3 maybe 4 years, and then their skin get better.

I, myself, had acne for a while. The difference in my acne, compared to others who had acne, is that my acne cleared up completely and… came back with a vengeance…

Not once, not twice but three times. That’s it the most frustrating thing ever. It’s hard enough being a teenager. Let alone having acne as a teenager.

Having acne come and go over the course of your teenage years is the worst. Why? Because as soon as the acne fades you think it’s over but life has other plans for you.

Lo and behold, 3–4 months later it’s back to being a pizza face. You know how it is. You try to hide your face from the lights.

Nighttime is your friend. The night is kinder to your face and much less revealing.

All those years of struggle with my acne got to my head. Years later, long after my acne has faded, I still have some “trauma”.

By trauma, I don’t really mean that I live in the past and can’t live a normal life. What I mean by trauma is that I still have remnants from my days of acne.

When I was a teen, I was also very skinny and had braces to make things worst. At that time, I was feeling very uncomfortable being me.

Even writing about it feels uncomfortable. I was so body conscious and placed so much importance on my physical appearance.

Nowadays, I have overcome most of it. I still had body dysmorphia not such a long time ago.

What is body dysmorphia?

It’s a fabrication of the mind. We see something we don’t like about ourselves and blow it out of proportion.

Generally speaking, there is nothing really wrong and oftentimes only we can really see it. Nobody really pays attention to it.

After my acne cleared, my skin got better and better, to the point that I am always told that my skin is perfect.

That being said, I can barely look at myself in the mirror because I know that my eyes will go directly to the “flaws” I might perceive.

If I see a “minor defect” my mind automatically tells me that everyone will only focus on that.

In reality, nobody really sees it but a mind that is corrupted by body dysmorphia can trick you and deceive you.

That’s the reason why I try to avoid mirrors. I don’t want to be triggered and I know a lot of you can relate.

Nowadays, a lot of us have some form of body dysmorphia because the image of the body is so important.

The problem with media, ads, filters, and things of that nature is that they put forth an image that is not only flawless but also impossible to reach in real life.

And by impossible, I really mean impossible. Pictures are filtered, airbrushed, photoshopped, and taken by pro photographers with perfect lighting and angling.

Humans are humans, we can only so good. You might think it’s not a problem and perhaps it’s not that big of an issue.

However, I still think we need to talk about that to save our future generations from the pain and suffering of dealing with one’s body in a way that’s completely unsavory.

During the pandemic, tinder made a feature free for everyone. That feature is called Tinder Passport. That feature enables you to match with people all over the world.

Out of curiosity, I tried it and I was shocked at the number of women who obviously had, a few or many, surgeries.

I am not only talking about boob jobs. Nowadays, everybody has had a boob job. I remember a time when plastic surgery was reserved only for the rich people.

These days, everybody is doing it because it’s much more affordable. That being said, I don’t know if it’s really a good thing.

Back to tinder, some of the profiles I saw were nothing short of shocking and I am not judging when I am saying that.

I am just telling you what I felt. Some of the girls I saw on tinder were not even looking human anymore. Obviously, I am not only talking about girls. Men, who are on steroids, don’t really look human anymore either.

That’s why, I said that body dysmorphia has affected a lot of us, if not most of us to a certain extent.

Sometimes, unbeknownst to us. I remember I was talking to the cousin of one of my best friends.

I was living in Shanghai at that time, that cousin was a beautiful woman I had met 3–4 years ago but she had left China and come back to visit her cousin.

When I first meet her she had not had any surgery yet aside from a boob job. When I saw again after all that time her face was completely changed.

I had seen the pictures online but seeing her face in real life was a whole different thing. There was nothing natural-looking about her face anymore.

I was having a conversation with her about her surgeries. She was telling me about all the procedures she had undergone but that’s was not the important part.

At one point she said “I am not like those girls who do too many surgeries and don’t look natural anymore”

Those words were so revealing. I did not say anything when she told me that but I had an epiphany.

She did not realize was far along the process she was. She did not realize how, actually, unnatural she looked.

That’s what body dysmorphia does. I remember when I started getting bigger thanks to working out and eating. I also had body dysmorphia. I was never big enough. I was never ripped enough.

My muscles definition was never good enough. A lot of men who are fitness junkies suffer from body dysmorphia even though they might look amazing.

So, what can we do about body dysmorphia?

First, we need to stop linking our self-worth and validation to our bodies. That’s a recipe for disaster because you will always find something you don’t like.

When you have body dysmorphia your mind is looking for things to be unhappy about. You need to focus on other stuff. Not your body.

Focus on your passion, your purpose, your relationships with others. Being of service to others. Meditating, et…

We also need to validate ourselves and not seek validation from others. When we care so much about our appearance. we are seeking approval and validation from the world.

Truth be told, nobody really cares about you because most people are worried about what others think about them. Therefore, nobody is really paying much attention to you.

That’s also a recipe for disaster and unhappiness because no matter what you do, you will never be able to universally appeal to everybody. Beauty is the eye of the beholder as they say.

So, validate yourself. Which brings me to my next point. Do not compare yourself especially to fabricate images in ads and/or social media platforms. Nobody looks that good in real life.

Do not compare yourself to others. We are all born different. Different features. Different physical defects and attributes. Comparing yourself with others and envying others are the keys to a miserable life if that’s what you want.

My next and final point is the most important — Self-love.

We can point fingers all we want to the world and complain about those unreachable standards of beauty society places on us.

We would not be wrong but we would be doing what is right. The most important thing is not what is happening in the world outside. The most thing is what is happening in the world inside.

The world affects us. That’s undeniable and obvious but we get to decide how much regardless of how hard it is.

At the end of the day, we get to decide what we allow to go in our minds. Self-love is the key. When we are done blaming, comparing, envying, and constantly changing our physical appearance. We can finally be happy and contented with ourselves.

Of course, you can change your body. Take care of yourself and make yourself look better but not to such an extent that it makes you miserable.

Self-love is self-validation. Love at its purest form is unconditional which means it is boundless. That’s what we need in order to be happy with ourselves.

We need to be grateful for our bodies and not always try to bend them to our will and desires. We need to appreciate them instead of trying to use them as a bargaining chip to get superficial gains that in the long run are not all that fulfilling.

Maybe your physical appearance will get you places and open doors but is that what you want? Do you want to be recognized solely for the way you look?

Let’s not forget that our bodies are depreciating assets so focusing too much on them is not only moot but counterproductive.

And even if someone rejects us for the way we look or because we don’t look a certain way. Good riddance. They will be people for who you are.

When we focus too much on our physical appearances we don’t focus on other parts of our lives that are much more important.

Our characters, personalities, and actions are more important than our decaying bodies. So, love yourself, and appreciate yourself. You don’t try to be “perfect” just be you and that is as close as perfect as you will ever get.