Our teenage years are equally revered and reviled in hindsight.
At no other time in our lives do we experience such a maelstrom of changes, both physical and emotional.
Throughout puberty we not only have to contend with our quickly changing bodies, but we are simultaneously thrust into the adult world and must make decisions that serve to define the very course of our lives. At the time we are living through these years each argument, break-up and sleight feel like earth-shaking events. Although they might well seem trivial when recalled years down the line, I believe that it’s really important not to undersell the gravity of some of these earth-shaking moments as many of them can have real wide reaching consequences that can provide you with some real insight into how you act in the present day.
Take for example one of my earliest sexual encounters. Before I get you on edge (or excited…): don’t worry. I’m not about to launch into gory detail about how I lost my virginity in the back of a some teenage dirtbag’s beat-up Camaro (which totally didn’t happen…). I’m about to tell you the story of how my body dysmorphia was born, a condition which would end up costing me thousands of dollars but, more importantly, thousands of hours of my life.
Let’s call him Kevin, because it’s the first name that has come into my head and it’s also a name which I associate with good people (I’m looking at you Kevin Smith!).
Kevin was in my Maths class, he was smart and had kind eyes and is definitely in no way to blame for any of the conditions that I have struggled with in my life, but an experience that we shared when we were 14 years old was enough to trigger a thought process that would still bump around the dusty corners of my mind to this day, leading to voluntarily put myself under a surgeon’s scalped twice: once to ‘fix’ my body and the second time to receive breast implant removal that would return me to my previous state.
‘Is that all?’
Never were crueller words spoken by a teenager. We had spent months building up to this stolen moment behind the school gym. Months of furtive glances from me, whilst I was blissfully ignored by a boy who was too absorbed in his equations to realise that he was the subject of a fiery romantic story that played on repeat in my head whilst I slowly but surely forgot about everything else in my life. He was surprised if anything when I finally cornered him on the way back from lunch, but he was quick to pick up on my rather obvious signals.
Our first kiss was a long, drawn out sloppy affair. I didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I reached up and pulled his head into mine. Of course, like any normal teenage boy his hand lingered very briefly on my waist before rising and groping for a handful of something gorgeous, voluptuous and sensual that he’d seen in magazines, on television and in films. I felt like I was being patted down, searched (in vain) for a phantom smuggled prize that would prove to him my burgeoning womanhood. Suffice it to say, I came up in short in that department.
It took nearly two decades to overcome that initial sleight. Kevin was a good boy, but he was still a boy: tactless and blunt.
Body dysmorphia is an issue that affects thousands of people the world over with a variety of damaging consequences. Find out more about it here.