If I had a pound for each time somebody asked me this question, I wouldn’t be claiming Universal Credit, put it that way. Assuming that you’re a frequenter of my blog, you may have happened upon a post which outlines my history of eating disorders and poor body image. If not, I would politely recommend you have a gander at the first post as this has a lot to do with the BDD I have surrounding my face shape.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been quite the ardent selfie-taker. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always vehemently despised the shape of my face. If you’re (un)lucky enough to be close to me, you may have had to endure a drunken Ebony sobbing over the fact that “no matter how skinny I get, my face will always be fat” around the 3am point of a night out (sobs, sniffs and chip breaks edited out for concision). If you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, you’ll find that the vast majority of my tagged photos are of me artfully perched next to a friend, selfie pose initiated, always the one in control of the camera – a stark lack of normal group shots or candid snaps.
For this, and the fact that I post at least one selfie to my Instagram a week, people seem to assume that I’m vain and utterly besotted with my own reflection. My exes have thought it, former frenemies have thought it, even my own mother thinks it – despite watching me physically shrink myself through my eating disorder as a teenager, in a futile bid to burn off the biological shape of my facial bone structure.
I wish this was the case. I wish that every time my nan gleefully brandished her camera and declared it family photo time, I could happily oblige without the fear of subsequently looking at the image and wanting to quite genuinely take a knife to my own jawline (or lack thereof). I wish I could be less uptight and not beat myself up for days after seeing pictures from a party, ruthlessly berating myself for not having the dainty heart-shaped faces of my friends. I wish I could let boyfriends take cute candid pictures of me without getting in a psycho tizz if I look like a glorified moon adorned in red lipstick. I wish my head would let me spend more time caring about things that actually fucking matter in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I feel like a badass bitch and I do everything in my power to internalise the fact that I have a similar face-shape to Dita Von Teese, and she’s an internationally-renowned, bonafide bloody babe. However, even on those days, let somebody pull a camera out and watch how quickly my face contorts, or how I just magically disappear altogether.
So, where do these selfies come in? If I’m such a moon-face, why am I always whoring it out across my social solar system? Why is my Instagram curated solely of my meticulously vsco-cammed pouts, some vegan meal snapshots to profess how endlessly virtuous I am, and a bunch of personally relevant quotes/poems? Am I just completely vapid and shallow?
When I take a picture of my face/body/outfit on Instagram, I’m conforming to the social media standards of externalising my life to look all refined and rose-tinted-glasses, but I’m also striving to internalise a version of myself into my own head – one that isn’t the moon-face. One that has cheekbones and an actual jawline and a face that doesn’t look like it belongs to a podgy 12-year-old. One that hasn’t led me to starve myself or self-harm because I can’t handle the ‘reality’ of it. Given the nature of BDD, whereby I haven’t the frigging foggiest as to what exactly my face-shape actually looks like in person, I tend to use images of myself as a form of body-checking which, in turn, creates an internalised ‘reality’ of what I look like mentally.
By taking all of these staged, angled and filtered up-to-the-nines pictures, and surrounding myself with them – projecting them out to the world – they become ‘me’, and I can just about handle being that ‘me’. If I lived life with the gay abandon of most people who aren’t lunatics and let people take photographs of me here/there/everywhere, I would internalise myself as this fat, satsuma-shaped mess and my self-esteem would baseline, leading to my eating disorder’s immediate resurfacing. Whether that’s what I actually look like, or not.
It may seem delusional, bizarre or just completely fucking stupid, but it’s how I get by day-to-day and it’s just one of the mechanisms I use to help myself get out of bed. If anybody can relate, in any shape or form, kindly leave me a comment or hit me up on Twitter @Ebzo, cause I’m a tad concerned that I sound insane right now. But I beg of you: nobody ask me that fucking question again…