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Dear Melody: How Do I Cope with Body Dysmorphia?

“Monthly Matters with Melody” is a monthly advice column by Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor and the founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation. Her foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness and contribute to meaningful change in the world. Dr. Moore is a social entrepreneur who trains facilitators on how to teach programs to prevent negative body image and remind girls and women of their inherent worth. Her work has been featured in the books Yoga and Body Image and Yoga and Eating Disorders: Ancient Healing for Modern Illness, as well as in Yoga Journal, Yoga International, and Origin Magazine.

Any advice on body dysmorphia? I am eight months into recovery and feel like a different person, although I have only gone up one pants size. I think I'm not seeing myself in the mirror, but a person I don't know.

“Can you be strong enough to let the world be different?” A friend of mine, Matthew Sanford, author of Waking, once asked this at the close of a yoga class I was lucky enough to attend. His inquiry comes to mind now, as I consider how to help you un-see what you feel and move toward what is real.

It sounds like you are conflicted about whether the image that you see is being caused by distortions, or if it is a true image. Have you tried reality checking your perspective? Here’s an idea. Roll out a piece of butcher paper that is at least the length of your body’s height. Then, take a marker and do your best to draw out the frame of your body, as closely as you can to an actual size image. After you do so, lie down onto the sheet of butcher paper, inside the drawing that you made, and have someone that you trust, perhaps your therapist, trace your body’s shape with a different-colored marker. Then, get up, turn around, and look at the two distinct frames. Notice what you notice. Is the figure that you drew any bigger or any different than your actual traced body? If so, let yourself feel the sensations and emotions that arise within you when you see that you are actually smaller than you think you are.

Can you be strong enough to let the world be different? Seeing things from a new perspective takes strength and bravery. Just like eight months of recovery does. Draw on the wisdom from those eight months of learning and use the skills and the tools you have already developed to support you in trusting in the part of you that asked the question. That part of you, maybe it is your inner knowing, already recognizes that you’re “not seeing yourself in the mirror.” Grow that part of you, the part that is your wise, witness mind, and see if the distortions begin to shrink.