Recently, because of my hormone therapy and because I’ve been happier in myself, I’ve been putting on weight. And although I recognise that that’s a very positive thing, it can be hard to watch my body getting bigger when for so long, I felt like anything but a loss in weight was a failure.

The other day, I couldn’t zip up one of my dresses. I pulled and pulled at the zip until I actually had to sit down in order to stop myself from crying tears of frustration. It sort of shocked me to see how upset I was by something as meaningless as a dress that doesn’t fit, but it was clear that even though I feel as though I’m over my body dysmorphia, I still struggle with changes in my body.

As it turned out, I had just forgotten that there’s a knack to zipping up this particular dress, but I’d still had a very extreme reaction to something that I shouldn’t have, and that worried me. Because I thought that I was managing the fact that I was putting on weight, but it came as such a shock to me that my clothes weren’t fitting.

What I’m trying to say here is that I’m a work in progress, so although I’m about to share my method of staying sane while putting on weight, I don’t have all the answers and I’m currently going through a struggle that I’m still coming to terms with.

Nevertheless, I think that if I continue to do what I’m currently doing, then my image of my own body will continue to improve.

When I began my hormone replacement therapy, I was very conscious of the fact that my body would go through a lot of changes, and how that might affect my mental wellbeing. I came up with a strategy that you could call exposure therapy.

Instead of trying to pretend that these changes weren’t occurring, or that they didn’t bother me, I decided to embrace them.

Every day, I get up in the morning and I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I then take off my clothes and force myself to look at my body. I pinch my flab and I make it jiggle a bit. I let myself think any dark thoughts about any changes that have occurred, but ultimately I make myself recognise all of the beautiful parts.  

I take it all in, I take a deep breath and I tell myself that I’m beautiful, even with some extra weight on my body. Then I get dressed and I continue to prepare for the day ahead.

I wear a lot of tight dresses and skirts these days, meaning that I’m very aware of the shape of my stomach or my legs, making it even more important for me to, I suppose, prepare my self-confidence for the day.

I love my body and I starved it for a long time, so I’m definitely aware that if I put on weight, that’s progress. But I’ll probably always suffer from my body image issues in some form or another.

I never want to be intentionally naïve about my state of mind and how certain things are going to affect it, so I’m really happy that I adapted this strategy early on. Now, it’s a habit to assure myself that I’m beautiful and I find it simple to ease any fears I have of being fat or being ugly.

Because I don’t believe that it’s a bad thing to be fat and even though I’m currently quite thin, if I were ever to become fat, I hope that I’d be able to continue to love myself and my body.

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