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I Fight Body Dysmorphic Disorder By Taking Flattering Pictures Of Myself

Facing straight forward with your hands on your hips is a very flattering angle.  Try it and send me yours.

Facing straight forward with your hands on your hips is a very flattering angle. Try it and send me yours.

This weekend I laterally passed Henry all my kid obligations and ran off with two women to Palm Springs where we proceeded to do wild things. Like nap. And drink. And nap. And shop. And nap. And eat pastries. And nap. Oh yes, this is a descent story where we tapped into our dark sides. And napped.

But here’s the thing about women. We never shut up about how fat we are. You could play zydeco on our ribs and we’d still think we were fat. This is what we sounded like this weekend, “When I bend over can you see the jelly rolls on my stomach?” “Could you do a lunar landing on the cheesy side of my ass?” “Do I have little back fat sausages I can’t see in this top?” “Can you see the chafing where my thighs rub together in this bathing suit?” “Do my earlobes appear to be hanging lower since I gained ten pounds?” “Yes I care about the ozone, terrorists, hermaphrodite sex slave traders and Obama’s policy on Syria, but if you were a man would you find me deliciosa?”

I bet you anything Joan of Arc was distracted in battle if her armor felt too tight.

Tiresome. So I’ve decided that every time my Body Dysmorphic Disorder kicks in I’m going to take a flattering photo of myself (no more nudes) and post it on Facebook so everyone will tell me how great I am and my ego can be assuaged and for just one day I can look at that photo and KNOW that I’m not fat, ugly, saggy, old or invisible. I can look at that photo and all of my dear friends’ kind words and feel beautiful, healthy, strong and just okay. And okay is good.

Send your flattering photos to me at shannoncolleary@aol.com and I will post them here.  xo S

A flattering photo with my fellow BDD friends.

A flattering photo with my fellow BDD friends.

Tags assigned to this article:
body dysmorphic disorderfat


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  1. prudence
    prudence 23 September, 2013, 10:49

    Not only are you beautiful and sexy , but also you are one of the nicest people I know.I’m going to Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts to keep my mojo up/

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 September, 2013, 14:18

      Prudence I can just imagine you at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. I hope you come to L.A. soon to share the knowledge!!

      Reply this comment
  2. A Pleasant House
    A Pleasant House 23 September, 2013, 13:17

    There ARE NO flattering photo’s of myself. I’m one of those women you speak of. Damn Barbie Doll Idol.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 September, 2013, 14:13

      Oh I beg to differ. I’ve met you in person and I could take many flattering photographs of you.

      Reply this comment
  3. Beverly Diehl
    Beverly Diehl 23 September, 2013, 14:08

    Fat, ugly, saggy, old or invisible.

    My project this year is to stop with the hate-talk, verbal or otherwise.

    Because I am lovable and worthy even if/when I am fat.
    Because I am lovable and worthy even if/when I am ugly.
    Because I am lovable and worthy even if/when I am old.
    Because I am lovable and worthy even if/when I am invisible (because that would be a bad-ass superpower).

    I can’t control other people, but I can stop the self-hate-talk. I can change the subject when my friends start with fat-hate-talk. It’s hard work – especially as women, we are SO used to poking holes in our appearance or thinking we’re not good enough/pretty enough, sexy and limber and wild enough, but that’s my goal – to NOT hate on myself. One day at a time, like AA.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 September, 2013, 14:12

      Beverly I love this. Especially the lovable and worthy. Those are attributes that outshine perfect and beautiful. Thanks for this.

      Reply this comment
  4. Kathy Radigan
    Kathy Radigan 23 September, 2013, 14:41

    I’m working really hard on the trash talk about my body, even though it is so far from what I want it to look like. I have been focusing on one thing I like about myself in a photo, I do not want my kids, both my two boys and my daughter, to hear me speak about myself in such horrifying ways. Thanks for a great reminder!! And you are gorgeous!!

    Reply this comment
    SHELLEY R ZUREK 23 September, 2013, 17:50

    It’s so true. You are what you think you are!

    Reply this comment
  6. Valerie
    Valerie 23 September, 2013, 19:39

    Hope to send you a photo when my new “starter boobs” start germinating. In the meantime, I’ll take a selfie of my twin chins. I know all we women talk about how fat we are, but truthfully, we kind of are compared to how we want to look. Maybe part of the dialogue is changing our expectations! You look fabulous, Shannon and I hope you feel just as great! #thewomanwhoformerlyhadafilter 🙂

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 September, 2013, 19:54

      Hello Miss Valerie — I just popped over to your site and read about your story. You are one brave mama. And lowering our expectations seems the best way to go. Kisses to you and yours and all of my best wishes for your rapid recovery. xo S

      Reply this comment
  7. Megan
    Megan 24 September, 2013, 15:57

    Or, you could work toward knowing that your worth is not in your appearance. Skip the Facebook pic posts and ask for your friends to comment with what value you bring to life and relationships. If not, then at least work toward not perpetuating that hate toward those who ARE actually fat, saggy, or old. These are simple states of being that are a reality for many many people; my heart cried for them when I read your post.

    If you can’t get past it, it’s a disorder. I attended Rain Rock Treatment Center in Oregon to help me get over these same issues. Life changing.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 24 September, 2013, 16:28

      Hi Megan — BDD happens to everyone regardless of age or the status of in or out of shapeness. Feeling attractive feeds into my well-being, so when my critical voices pop up I’ve decided to fight back. One of my weapons are the flattering photos. I also bought a mirror that is flattering to put in my closet. Doing these things has made me happier. I don’t believe that people who care about how they look are vapid or insubstantial. I believe everyone feels best when they feel attractive. I’m pushing 50 which means I’ll age. I’m not afraid of it. I’ve seen two of my grandmothers do it beautifully and I’ll follow their lead. My post was not meant to be hurtful to people who, as you say, “are actually fat, saggy or old.” I suspect that people in these categories also like to look nice and feel attractive. And I BELIEVE they can. I’ve seen gorgeous photos of elderly women unretouched. The same with heavier women too. There’s more than one kind of beauty.

      Reply this comment
  8. Lady Jennie
    Lady Jennie 25 September, 2013, 09:25

    That’s a really good idea!!!

    I’m still too chicken to send them though. 🙂

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 25 September, 2013, 10:01

      You looked gorgeous at BlogHer! Wish I could pop over to France and take the photo for you!! Speaking of which, we’ll be in Paris over the New Year. Will email you to see if we can connect! xoS

      Reply this comment
  9. Elle - SeeMomWork
    Elle - SeeMomWork 29 December, 2013, 16:06

    You look great to me! I’m glad you had a relaxing trip to Palm Springs with your friends.

    “All work and no play makes mommy a disgruntled chick.”

    Reply this comment
  10. Mabel MacGillycuddy
    Mabel MacGillycuddy 30 December, 2013, 06:03

    Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a chronic mental illness in which you can’t stop thinking about a flaw (usually minor or imagined) so that your appearance seems hideous and shameful in a way that you don’t want to be seen by anyone. All you do is hide yourself.

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied by personal adequacy, prestige, and vanity.

    You are a beautiful, intelligent, accomplished woman. I wonder if what you’ve called here as “fishing for compliments” is giving your girls a skewed view of female self worth? When one daughter is upset about the possibly of not maintaining her status “the pretty one” and your other daughter is refusing any other hairstyle but child-like or tom boy braids (removing herself from the beauty competition) does this reflect healthy self-images?

    If a mother is preoccupied by her appearance so constantly and so publicly how can daughters believe any other personal qualities are more important than physical attractiveness? A mother can verbally say healthier things over and over but it is behavior that children tend to model.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 30 December, 2013, 09:36

      Hi Mabel — Now I’m going to have to research Narcissistic Personality Disorder. From the description above I certainly have aspects of it. I obviously can’t gauge how my desire to remain attractive affects my girls. They are both aware that “fat” is a bad word in our culture. I’m sure they’ve overheard me complain about feeling fat. But I also know they hear and see the same things at school, in ads and on television.

      How culpable I am with regards to one daughter wanting to be “the pretty one” and the other eschewing vanity at all costs I really don’t know. I hope they also are learning compassion, empathy, a work ethic, how to have a sense of humor when life is tough, loyalty and persistence from me as well. And I’m sure they know that they and their father come before all.

      I write frequently about my stumbling blocks not just for affirmation from my readers (which I admittedly enjoy), but to also let them know I’m not perfect and that, should they have similar issues, they aren’t alone. But said stumbling blocks are only a small part of who I am.

      Having said all of that, Mabel I appreciate you taking the time and caring enough to read and comment. Your observations have not fallen upon deaf ears. Thank you, S

      Reply this comment
  11. beth teliho
    beth teliho 27 May, 2014, 16:52

    I’m all too familiar with BDD. I’m a blogger, and have written about it as well…but on another blog because I was too embarrassed for those I know IRL (who read my blog) to know how much I suffer. I don’t even like the spotlight being known for having BDD puts on me.

    I’ve been sifting through your amazing site, and am quite taken with the love yourself now movement. The photos are so beautiful it makes me cry. Last summer I relapsed and spiraled into a 6 month hate fest with myself. I’m trying to pick up the pieces, but it’s summer (swimsuit season- yay) and it’s been hard. yesterday I skipped a Memorial Day dinner with my husband and kids to do the treadmill for the 2nd time that day. I know…..so stupid. But I feel like you know the lies BDD tells you. It told me yesterday I was too ugly to be seen in public.


    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 May, 2014, 17:07

      Beth — thanks for sharing your vulnerability here. You most definitely are NOT alone. I bet many of the women at that Memorial Day party have the same demons. Shining the light on them — with loving people we trust — can help. Let me know if you want to participate in our Love Your Body Now campaign. I know Beth would love to shoot you and Marlene is so gifted at helping people toward transformation. email me if you wish. xoS

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