Sense of Self

Word for Wednesday #31

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This week’s word is Gender.

Gender – Gender Identity. One’s innermost concept of self as male or female or both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different than the sex assigned at birth. Individuals are conscious of this between the ages 18 months and 3 years. Most people develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex. For some, however, their gender identity is different from their biological or assigned sex. Some of these individuals choose to socially, hormonally and/or surgically change their sex to more fully match their gender identity. ( Gender Spectrum website.)

I picked this because after my recent F4TF posts about how much I dislike my body, Kat asked if I might be gender neutral. I’ve never really questioned my gender, I was born female, I’ve lived as a female and that’s it. After I did a bit of reading I wondered, then I read a bit more and I think I am just female, bi-curious, but I think that’s probably as far as it goes. I identify as female, I may not like being female – I’ve always tended to dress in jeans and t-shirts rather than skirts and dresses and for a long while my hair was really short. I don’t wear make-up, I don’t care about beauty and fashion, shoes, hair or make-up trends, but none of this makes me less female.

What I did find that seemed to be closer to how I felt was BDD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which some people with gender identity issues have. (BDD isn’t the same as Gender Dysphoria, the two are often confused.)

Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  1. Obsessively checking your appearance in mirrorsor avoiding them completely
  2. Using heavy make-upto try to hide the area you’re concerned about
  3. Changing your postureor wearing heavy clothes to disguise your shape
  4. Seeking constant reassuranceabout your appearance
  5. Exercising excessively, often targeted at the area you’re concerned about
  6. Frequent body checkingwith your fingers
  7. Picking your skinto make it smooth
  8. Excessive use of tanning products
  9. Frequent weighing
  10. Brushingor stylingyour hair obsessively
  11. Constantly comparing yourselfwith models in magazines or people in the street
  12. Seeking cosmetic surgeryor having other types of medical treatment to change the area of concern

There are lots of places to find more detailed information about BDD. This list came from Mind.org

  1. I avoid mirrors and hate to see my face in photos, well actually I hate to see any of me in photos.
  2. I’ve always worn long, baggy tops, t-shirts, hoodies etc. just to hide bits I don’t like. I also have my arms folded across my boobs a lot too.
  3. I’m always checking my top covers my butt and I touch my face quite a lot, particularly the side of my nose, my forehead and chin.
  4. My nose, chin and forehead – I have dry skin and I’m constantly rubbing and picking at it.
  5. I tend to do more when I’m having a depressive episode – like a vicious circle – I don’t like how I look, I look at others and feel worse, look at them, blah, blah, blah.

I had heard of BDD but I had never thought about it in connection with my problems – I’m not constantly dieting, exercising or weighing myself. Nor am I a fan of tanning, plastering on make-up or styling my hair. And I definitely wouldn’t consider surgery. For some people BDD can cause real life-changing problems such as not being in social situations, anxiety, eating disorders etc. For me I just go through phases when I really hate my body and how I look, I can generally still get on with my life because I know, logically, that it’s crap. Still doesn’t stop me feeling like shit while I’m going through it, but like so many other issues I’ve had it’s something that’s always been there, I just never had a name for it. Like everything else, I cope with it, just about. Here’s hoping that like everything else, now I have a name for it I might find it easier to deal with.

More Word for Wednesday here.

3 thoughts on “Sense of Self

  1. I have so much to say about this post! I can relate so very much with you.
    I have been told by several people that I might have BDD but, in my head, to accept that means I am saying I might not be ugly, which to me, is insane! If I say I have BDD it’s almost, in my warped mind, being arrogant… like, ‘yes I am attractive after all…’
    It’s hard to explain…
    I had an eating disorder and exercised to excess ending up very underweight and my periods disappeared for over two years. I avoid social situations these days because I have put weight back on and think I look awful. I can also tick several other boxes on that list you shared.
    It’s hell but I kind of accept it’s just the way I am… never good enough whether I am a size 6 or bigger.
    I hope, as you say, having a name for it makes it easier for you to live with, maybe even conquer it.
    much love,
    k x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I posted this reply on your blog
      It did help a lot of things fall into place.
      One of the reasons people don’t think or talk about it it because they might think they’ll be seen as being vain. It’s part of the condition and it’s the lies that are warped, not your mind.
      Big hugs to you hon xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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