My Experience with Body Dysphoria (Dysmorphia?)
For those who don't know, body dysphoria, or (I think) dysmorphia according to google is "a mental health condition in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance". With a lot of trans and genderqueer people, it usually relates to how you see your body not matching your gender or maybe just generally being very critical on your physical flaws and appearence. (It is also by no means unique to trans/genderqueer people, but I guess it relates to me under that context (I think)).
Before I begin, I wanted to say that I don't really know if this is dysmorphia/dysphoria. I'm not an expert. I'm certainly not diagnosed with it (not that I need to get a diagnosis for it). I just see these terms used by the trans community a lot, and I think this is what I'm experiencing.
I feel like I've been suffering with my appearence for a really long time, but not all in the same way or continuously. I think for the most part it commonly starts around when puberty starts, for obvious reasons. For me, I can't really put a time to when this started, but thinking back there were some experiences that can easily be explained by it (that I'm not gonna share (yet, at least)).
More recently, I think one of the biggest hurdles in trying to figure out if I'm trans or whatnot is if (what I think is) my dysmorphia is due to not having a body that I feel matches my gender, if it's just due to my body having a lot of issues that aren't related to gender stuff (long story short, a lot of acne, bumps, and acne scarring, along with weight issues), or some combination of the two. I think more recently, I'm getting closer to figuring it out.
Edit 2022-06-5: Originally in this post, I didn't mention an obvious symptom of having gender dysphoria. When I look at myself in the mirror and just see a guy, who is pretty masculine, I hate it. Every time I detect even a hint of femininity in my appearence (usually due to my really long hair) I get really happy. There's so much about the male body that I dislike that I just kinda get sad whenever I'm in the shower, and there's not a lot I can do about it in my current situation. Everything else listed below is also a contributing factor, but really, just the fact that I just generally don't like how masculine I appear is a common symptom of gender dysphoria. (To be fair though, this doesn't always mean you're trans. You may not want to be a girl, but you may just want to be more feminine. Maybe you're a femboy, maybe you're an enby. Everything is valid, you just need to work on figuring that out yourself. Personally, I think I'm a feminine-leaning enby (or maybe genderfluid)).
I'm 95% sure it's a mix of the two, and that the non-related stuff is actually related. For many trans-fems (but not all), body hair is a major thing that you kinda just want to permenantly remove, be done with it. I really dislike it. If I could resonably do it safely, I would burn it off, which of course is what laser hair removal basically is. The issue with that is that it's extremely expensive. Sometimes the pain is an issue as well, but personally I'd go through hell and back just to get rid of a lot of it. This isn't to say I hate all of it though. Sometimes you just kinda want a bit of it, idk how to explain it. The thing with the acne and red bumps and scarring is that a common perception of femininity is clear and smooth skin (which also relates to body hair). Without being too explicit, my body is kinda covered in red bumps, scabs, acne, burn marks, etc... In my head, I'm actually quite fine with the burn marks and cut scars, because they show history of mistakes, and also the fact I don't have many, as well as they aren't actually that noticable. The big issues are the acne, the bumps, the acne scars, the everything thats red and not flat. My shoulders especially are just awful when it comes to it (whenever I wear like, loose shoulder shirts that show some shoulder and maybe a bra strap idk, it looks awful to me because of how messed up my shoulder skin is. I REALLY WANT TO WEAR THOSE SHIRTS). I definitely notice it way more than others, but last time I went swimming (with friends at least), they asked what was up with my skin, my shoulders. They thought the dog we had scratched them or something. Swimming used to be one of my favourite activites and I just have to make excuses to avoid it now. It doesn't help that it also shows my body hair and all that.
When it comes to weight, I can easily say that I'm a bit chubby. Maybe a lot chubby (in my eyes at least). I'm 6'2"-ish (also don't like my height), and 220 pounds. It's important to note that I never really workout, I'm pretty weak, and all of the extra weight is basically 100% fat. No muscles here (well, I'm strong enough for a lot of stuff, but for all intents and purposes, it's all fat). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a bit of chub, y'know? I personally think it can be quite cute/attractive. It just doesn't align with whatever image of myself I want to become (which, put short, is gay motorcyle aunt, at least currently (and also not that simple)). After I actually started caring about my physical body again, I started looking into exercise routines, diets, and all that. I have made almost no progress whatsoever. I am cripplingly bad at changing habits and getting into routines that aren't strictly necessary. I have tried to exercise, which is good, but the longest I could keep at it was 1.5 weeks daily. I haven't really tried getting back into it since.
The MAIN thing that has changed due to the weight thing is my relationship with food. I snack. I snack A LOT. Whenever I'm working the main reason I get up from my chair is to check the pantry for snacks. It's not great. I'm not sure if it's correct, but I almost feel like it's an addiction. The urges and cravings are really hard to escape for me. The one thing that I found stops me from snacking is literally not eating at all that day. Once a taste gets in my mouth, it kinda triggers the "I want to keep a taste in my mouth as much as I can" mode, causing snacking. Now the obious issue with not eating is the fact that you aren't f*cking eating! It's not healthy. Pretty sure that's how you get an eating disorder. If I wake up feeling dysphoric, I have to choose between stress eating or avoiding eating altogether. Snacking in of itself isn't terrible either, but it doesn't help either. I guess my relationship with food went from "happy relationship" to "it's complicated". I feel gross about it sometimes now. It's hard to explain I guess.
Then there's the height thing. Being 6'2" is fine I guess, but I think I'd rather be around 5'10"-ish. 5'10" is still pretty tall, but it's not really tall. Being this tall 100% is back pain central. Not great. I almost hit my head a lot. Also, I feel overwhelmingly tall for anything feminine. It's hard to find stuff that fits, it's harder to be seen as feminine, I feel like everything masculine about me is exaggerated being this tall. It doesn't contribute to dysphoria too much currently, but if I ever get the other issues ironed out, this one can't be fixed, and will likely stick with me till I die. You can't just remove your femurs and get shorter.
I also can't seem to get my face acne to dissapear. My face is a big thing I dislike. Facial hair is the first thing I'd burn off if I get the chance. The acne cannot be eradicated. The scarring can't be fixed. The face of a person is by far one of the most important aspects of being seen the way you want to be. It's what people will likely be staring at when talking to you. Everything I try, I can't get rid of the acne, mainly because I can't get into routine. Even if I did though, I have no idea where to begin with designing a routine for it. I have no idea what I'm doing. With the facial hair, even after I shave it, you can almost see a ghost version of it taunting me. A moustache made of blood and discoulored skin. I cut myself with the rasor so much. It grows back within a day. I'm so sick of it. Apparently HRT doesn't even do much about facial hair. I'm stuck with it until I burn it off with a laser. I want it gone.
Then there's my hair. The good hair. The really long hair that flows down the back of my neck and onto my shirt. It hardly flows whatsoever, is very frizzy, and gets way too dry way too fast. It doesn't obey what the bottles of hair products says it'll do. I brush it, I use conditioner on the middle and ends, shampoo on the scalp, air-dry it. Nothing tames it. I just have to get lucky. I should probably go to a hair stylist or something once I come out, but for now I just avoid looking at myself in a mirror as much as I can.
In short, my body is a mess, I'm extremely unfit, my face is an acne and facial hair warzone, my diet is messed up, and I struggle to get into any habit of helping fix this. Another massive issue is that I'm too scared of my family finding out that I just have to wait until I come out, sneakily work on whatever I can, or move out (even though none of the 100s of jobs I applied to won't even respond). I feel like I'm trapped. Making no progress on myself. I can't even voice-train since they would notice (and can't get into habit). I'm trapped until I take a massive risk, or wait it out longer than I can reliably bare. I know I'm being very hard on myself, but dealing with myself daily is exhausting sometimes. It's like I'm arguing with myself sometimes, and that self is just a brick wall. Of course I'm gonna get frustrated and be hard on myself. In some ways, but not completely, I see Ethan as the complete mess, and Evelyne as some sort of fantasy that's impossible to reach. The best world is where I combine the both into a reasonable goal that I'm happy with. I just feel like I need guidence. Some sort of coach/mentor for being trans and working on being a better, healthier person.
Side note: Gender-wise, I'm starting to feel like I may be non-binary in some way, or maybe genderfluid. I definitely don't feel completely female, but also maybe sometimes, but also maybe not. Maybe it's fluid between agender, middle between male and female, and feminine, with a hint of male here and there? I don't know. Who knows.
THANKS FOR READING!! I know I mostly just use the blog to vent at the moment, but I'm working on some projects as well! Hopefully in the near future I can get them in a state to share. (Hint: 6502 ben eater computer, and an analog channel 3 transmitter).