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Alison Beaver

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Your Guide to Overcoming Appearance Phobia

By Dr. Gail Gross Ph.D. Ed.D. Expert
 
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a guide to help you overcome appearance phobia
Elena Elisseeva/PhotoSpin

Remember that insult that came flying your way, coated with the sugary taste of a euphemism? Yes, we have all been the focus of socially acceptable insults from those who use rude and manipulative language, to lower the threshold of their own vulnerability. By pointing a finger at others, meant to induce shame, they project out their inner demons.

Instead of confronting their own feelings of inferiority, they use you as the target for their slings and arrows. Well, those arrows hit and sting. And, if you have a history of injury, such as, emotional neglect, verbal abuse, bullying, physical abuse, trauma or a poor self-image, you can be driven right into therapy, or a dysmorphic disorder - a heightened concern for one’s fitness, appearance and muscularity.

Let’s explore some of those tasteless descriptors. See if they sound familiar. For example: hour-glass shaped, big-boned, curvy, good shoulders, full-figured, pudgy, chubby, pear-shaped, that all mean…fat. Or, how about males who are described as: thick-set, chunky, out-of-shape, a big man or large. Yes, men too shrivel under the pain of hurtful language. Even thin males and females can be subject to embarrassment, when described as skinny and anorexic instead of slender.

Everyone feels unattractive, some of the time, as if they don’t “fit”-in. And, a testimony to this, is the big business of diet centers, weight trainers, gyms and Pilates teachers. However, when none of these things give you the satisfactory outcome you are looking for, the perfect and perfected body you aspire to - then there is always plastic surgery.

During adolescence, a time of great hormonal, emotional, and physical change, teenagers become particularly invested in their appearance. Skin problems, cystic acne, eczema, body changes, weight changes, menstruation, the emergence of secondary sexual characteristics, breast development, skin tone changes, etc., makes this a particularly tender time. As a result, teens can easily view themselves as defective.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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