Let me start off by saying that I have seven sisters. Most will find that terrifying, amusing, or a way to explain the way that I am. Today, I won't talk about what having seven sisters was like growing up. Today, I want to discuss self image and Body Dysmorphia.
But the reason I started with I have seven sisters is because that allowed me an inside look into the differences of how Males and Females are raised in the US. I was taught, as a child, that self image problems only affect females. That my sisters are far more likely to dislike the way they looked then any male can, and that males can not be affected by these problems.
But I've always despised the way I looked.
When I was seven we went on a field trip to the zoo. I barely remember anything from that entire year, and have no recollection of the trip at all. What I remember is that someone had taken a picture of me. I looked like a deer in headlights, sheer terror, pain, and anger scribbled across my face, and it looked like I wanted nothing more than to run away, or attack you. My ears were far too big for my head, and I could imagine myself looking at an elephant in the zoo and seeing the same thing. I took the picture secretly, hid it, and it was never seen again. But it was seen by enough people, enough people that laughed, that I wanted to crawl underneath a rock, tear off my ears, and never be seen again, not by anyone, or myself. Then I dissociated.
At twelve, as I was watching Troy, and noticing how perfect everyones bodies were I turned around, looked in the mirror and saw the same things. I had been seeing them for a while at that point, but it was time to take action. My ears had grown far too large, and my nose was looking more and more like a camels back, my eyes were too big, my skin too dark, my figure too tall, my stomach too fat, and a dozen more things. But the nose and ears were the main problems. So I picked up the copy of the Demonata hardcover book on my desk, and pressed it on the camels back to straighten it out. I did it for hours, every day, until the skin above my nose ripped, and I couldn't do it anymore.
I'm not saying any of this to tell you that self image is a problem. Of course it's a problem, but this is more than just a self esteem issue, this is Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In order to explain it more, its link with Suicidality, the things we do everyday to create a culture that allows individuals to suffer, and what you can do about it, I created a video posted below. Please watch the video, and share it, so that we may raise awareness about one of the most lethal Mental Health Illnesses.
Thank you for watching, and if you have any questions, please fee free to ask below.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.