National Eating Disorders Association

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Photography Dilemma

Hello NDEA Community,
I am 22 years old and have been battling an eating disorder since I was 11 years old. I primarily have struggled with anorexia but since recovering as I entered college I began to struggle with bulimia too. I also suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, which has contributed to my e.d.

I have gained a significant amount of weight since high school. Most days, I am able to cope with this but the issues of photography and social media have really hindered my progress. I recently stopped using Instagram because I noticed that I would spend hours looking at "perfect" photos of my friends and feeling ashamed of myself because I don't see myself as looking as good as they do (or as I perceive them to be) in photos. Although this social media break has helped, I have been feeling increased anxiety when entering situations where I know photos will be expected (especially this holiday season). I will spend hours fixating on my appearance before going to these events and this anxiety has caused me to prefer staying home sometimes.

On the other hand, photos are something I very much cherish. I have an entire bedroom wall dedicated to photos with my friends and family that remind me of the happiest times in my life. However, I now can't bring myself to take these photos or have them printed because I am dissatisfied with my appearance them.

I am graduating college this semester and I would love to take senior photos to cherish this accomplishment and memory. Does anyone else relate to my photo anxiety or have any advice on how to overcome this? I have come so far to overcoming my e.d. that I don't want this to be a huge setback, but I can't help but think how sad I'll be if I don't even have nice graduation photos.

Stay strong

Welcome to the forums! I am so sorry that you are suffering.

I find photos of myself to be triggering, so as a result I hate having my photo taken. So, I completely understand your concern and troubles. Do you currently have a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist? I have worked through self image and my own perceptions of myself with my therapist, and it helped a lot. Sometimes we have to do what is best for us, even if it means getting or not getting photos taken to document a point in our lives. Please consider both sides of the decision and, possibly with the help of a medical practitioner or NEDA help line, you can work through the triggering aspects. NEDA's contact information is below:

NEDA Contact:
Helpline 1-800-931-2237
Chat at
Text "NEDA" to 741741

Please keep coming back to the forums and let us know how you are doing. Remember, we are stronger that the ED and we are fighters, recovery warriors!