Dear Mary: I'm 19 and people are making fun of my body
I am a 19-year-old girl, and I am facing weight issues. I weigh 65kg which, according to the doctors, is fine. But while I don't have fat in my body my face is always swollen, and I have a double chin which makes my face look like a football. I am also quite tall and lean, but I have a heavier upper body which tends to make me look awkward. As a result people call me fat, and make fun of my body shape.
I am always afraid of finding someone laughing in public, and thinking they are laughing at me. I have tried talking to my parents about this, but they don't seem bothered, and they keep quiet even when family members insult me.
What should I do?
Mary replies: I am sorry you are having such a hard time in coming to terms with your body and its shape.
This must be particularly difficult for you as you don't feel supported at home.
No matter what your actual body shape is, and in spite of the doctors telling you that your weight is not a problem, you do need some help in feeling better about yourself in general, and your body in particular.
It may be that your sense of self isn't great and your feeling about your body exacerbates this problem. In other words, whatever unhappiness you are experiencing is being focused through your negative thoughts about your body. So therefore any flaws that you see in your body grows in proportion to your unhappiness.
Or it may be that you just don't like your body and need help in coming to terms with it. Either way you need help from outside your family to deal with all of this.
I think you would benefit greatly from contacting email@example.com. Bodywhys is an organisation which supports not only people with eating disorders but also people such as yourself who are facing difficulties with their bodies and therefore have body issues. They have a teen online support group for 13-18 year olds, but as you are just outside of this category you could use their online support group which is for over 18s.
It is a great form of support. The group is called 'bodywhysconnect' and you can register for it via the website. The other really great thing you could try is their online education programme called 'SeemySelf' which you can sign up for by email. It is a free service www.bodywhys.ie/resources/see-my-self.
The teenage years can all be a bit overwhelming and I am delighted that you have made a beginning in overcoming your difficulties by writing to me.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
Sunday Indo Living