The Lockdown-Induced Distorted Body Image
Some of my friends on Facebook and Instagram have recently begun posting pictures of them as they grow muscle or lose fat during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems to me that body image has been playing a more prominent role in everyone’s life these past few months. The cause could be the decrease in mobility in our lives due to being in lockdown, or it could be the extra time on our hands to look at fitness influencers on YouTube and TikTok (whose job by the way is to look lean). Yet, whatever is the cause of the increased obsession with health and fitness, I have felt augmented negative feelings of low self-esteem that I associate with the summit of my eating disorder and body dysmorphia problems.
Eating disorders take on many different forms, making it hard to recognize within oneself. However, the most important thing that the person suffering from them doesn’t always realize is that they are experiencing a disorder. For example, the most obvious “rock bottom” for most people in such a situation is when they make themselves purge. When I first decided to purge I recognized I was doing something unhealthy, but what I failed to notice was that I had been living out major eating disorder behaviors months earlier. If I had eaten a large amount or an unhealthy quality of food, I would go to the gym as soon as possible and spend an excessive amount of time trying to burn off the chocolate cake from the night before. The reason for unhealthy behavior like this: that the person in the mirror would not look as skinny, muscular, or athletic as the people in the media.
It all comes down to the difference between a person’s perception of their body and what they believe their body should look like, a complex human process.
A person may have body dysmorphia and fail to perceive their own body accurately. Meanwhile, somebody could be perceiving themselves as others see them, but still dislike what they see. Going back, this is largely in part due to the internet being saturated with influencers who have low body fat percentage and pounds of muscle from years of lifting weights and in many cases, steroids. During the lockdown of the pandemic there are less real and familiar people in our lives and more digital and strange people in front of our eyes. As everyone remains cooped up inside and becomes increasingly addicted to social media or anything else digital for that matter, the standard body shape is being distorted artificially to look like an unattainable standard.
I know that I have personally been falling back into my obsession with how I look. My old habits of checking my body in the mirror every time I use the bathroom, using my hands to check the fat content on my hips, and constantly thinking about what I should be eating that day have resurfaced. I can only hope to reign in the problem before it gets any further than this and try to help others who are less familiar with these dangerous paths of thought put a stop to them before they end up obsessing over every piece of chocolate that crosses their path. Here is a good place to start. If you notice that you are obsessing with your body and could possibly have or are developing an eating disorder, try checking out these links below. I would even recommend considering professional help, because one thing that can only be known by experiencing an eating disorder is that it is a very painful and tolling ordeal that nobody would want to nor should endure.
National Eating Disorder Association:
F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum:
International Eating Disorder Parent Support:
Academy for Eating Disorders:
The Full Bloom Podcast:
Overcoming Disordered Eating – Part A and Part B:
The Center for Mindful Eating: