The Myth: If your significant other loves your appearance, you shouldn’t change your appearance.
This sounds great, theoretically. If your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/whatever thinks you are absolutely stunning, you should not feel anxiety about your body or specific parts of your body. However, this is simply not the case in the real world.
These conflicting thoughts often originate from body dysmorphia (feeling a chronic state of anxiety about your own body/certain body parts), eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and/or a variety of other mental health conditions. There is an infamous phrase in the eating disorder community, that those with eating disorders (SED/ARFID, anorexia, bulimia, PICA, etc.) often have a very critical voice in their mind. People without mental illness have their own critical voice, it helps keep you safe, and stand your ground in arguments. However, people with mental illnesses (particularly with eating disorders), this inner critical voice is much more malicious.
For myself, I have an eating disorder as well as a laundry list of genetic conditions. My inner critical voice is at times very harsh. My partner adores my body, but I abhore specific parts of it. I hate the stretch marks around my butt. I need a breast lift/reduction, and I despise how my stomach has a bit of extra “fluff” (aka fat) to it. Do I think my body is ugly? No, but there are specific parts of it that I just want to change.
My boyfriend thinks that if he tells me I’m beautiful, it should be enough. Yes, it should, but that’s not how reality works.
Whenever someone has a critical voice in their head that’s constantly growling at them, you often fall victim to its words. This is why professional help is needed majority of the time, to help quiet the voice, and to build up your own self esteem again. My time with counseling has helped tremendously, but I know for myself, I still have a long way to go.
As possibly as “grim” as this sounds, there really is no true “recovery”, particularly with eating disorders. Relapsing is quite common, and there’s nothing wrong with someone if they do relapse. It just means they need to take time for proper self-care, pick themselves up again, and continue on their healing journey.