The bizarre double ontology of a dysmorphic
Imagine looking in the mirror at 7.03 am. You look tired, but otherwise fine. But when you look again at 8.32am, you are inhabiting a different body.
That’s every day for me. In my bizarre narrative, there is no quotidian Madelaine. I can, in my mind’s eye, double in weight or radically develop a different bone structure in seconds. Don’t get me wrong- I can recognise myself in a reflection- but the changes in my self image are alarming.
In some respects, I guess at how I look from what other people say. This is risky. People will call you pretty to get some free V, others will declare you are a gnome simply to illustrate frustration over you becoming the lead in some second rate play. People will call you thin as a false compliment, or because you have suddenly lost a stone. To me, nothing can be a truism. So as you can imagine, I get pretty paranoid.
Pictures are the worst. Even if everyone insists I look fine, my unscrupulous brain finds every flaw and magnifies it beyond any reason. Selfies are oddly therapeutic for that reason: I can veto anything truly ghastly without having to pray it hasn’t surfaced onto instagram. I still can’t decide, even on a day to day basis, if I am ‘normal’ or a delusional troll.
I’m not particularly vain. I love dressing up or doing my make up, but I wouldn’t say my appearance is my central pride (that would be my mind). I just have to live with this weird little visual abnormality that many people find absurd in a perfectly normal looking young woman. I know I’m normal. I know, deep down, that I’m not bulbously spherical or scaled like a particularly dry lizard. But that’s not what I see.
The mirror really is a parallel universe to me.