A woman looks at her reflection in a mirror, which is distorted to show a very bloated belly.

Body Image Issues and IBS

Because of my IBS, I have started to have some body image issues. These issues have started to fester more because of the pandemic, due to all of the time spent at home in front of a mirror. Maybe it's just me (it's not just me, there truly is no such thing as an original thought or an original feeling) but I find myself having body image issues due to the constant and severe bloating.

I know how great our bodies are and how much they can do. Unfortunately, it is really frustrating to have my mind play tricks on me in regards to what I think my body looks like and what it actually looks like (or even further what I think my body actually looks like — yes stew over that one for a second). The main issue is that I think I'm skinnier than I am. My brain wants to block out the fact that I look like Winnie the Pooh when I'm not dressed. But the fact is that heaviness that lines and drags down my stomach is there and it's not leaving Hundred Acre Wood anytime soon.

Health and wellness

My thoughts around my bloating and the effect it has on my body image are a persistent, nagging feeling. Sometimes, I will just stand in front of the mirror and hold my bloated stomach. This also partners with the ever-present thoughts of the struggle I have that no matter how much I work out, I'm never going to have a flat stomach. I know that everybody is a "bikini body" but societal views on bodies and beauty sometimes can float into my brain and just stay there. I've even increased my workouts and my eating has become more mindful, but with the bloating that I have, I do not foresee a future with a flat stomach.

My friend made a comment recently about how much I eat (she didn't mean to be insensitive but aren't we past that sort of criticism?). Normally, it wouldn't bother me because I do eat big portions generally, but as I mentioned, lately I have been cutting down and increasing exercise for my own health purposes; so, it hurt to have someone make (what was intended) as a lighthearted observation.


I also know that the average person isn't even going to notice that I'm consistently bloated. Even more so than that, if I were to ask a loved one if I looked bloated to them, they would say no, not out of politeness, but simply because they cannot actually see bloating on my body. So, I know that I have to change my perception of my body and not be so hard on myself. It is just a difficult task as we are always going to be our biggest critics. So, learning to see what other people see, which, at the end of the day, is just a normal human body, is going to be a continuous work in progress for me.

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