Low self esteem and body image

Want to preface this by warning people that this will contain very heavy discussion about looks including weight and talk of eating disorders. And sorry if this is very long again

I’ve been trying to calm myself down all morning but for some reason it isn’t working, so once again I’m posting here to hopefully get some input/support. I’m sorry I’m so bad at responding but I want to say that I always appreciate the support that has been offered to me here and it has always been very helpful to me.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t even really know why this is such an issue in my mind lately, but for some reason I can’t shake the fear and anxiety around this
I’m going to be visiting my long distance girlfriend soon and meeting her family and friends, and I keep being scared that they’ll be shocked by how ugly I am, or wanting to take pictures with or of me (because of my low self esteem with my looks I’m terrified of cameras and pictures of me being taken). I’ve been feeling insanely self conscious about my looks lately to the point I can’t look in the mirror without feeling sick. I’m pretty overweight and started balding when I was only 19 years old (I’m 22 now and missing pretty much all my hair on the top of my head) + I suffer from skin picking disorder that heavily affects my face and arms so needless to say I look like a mess.
Usually I don’t think about these things too hard but I don’t know…I don’t why I’m so sad and scared they’ll think less of me if they see just how unflattering I look in person. Even if they’re nice and won’t voice it, just the fact they might be shocked or disgusted with the way I look makes me panic and not even want to meet them so they won’t have to see me.

I try to take care of my looks the best I can and I know it’s probably stupid to get worked up over this, most of the things I’m unsatisfied with aren’t like impossible to change and could be taken care of but it almost feels impossible. I struggle heavily with binge eating disorder and have been ever since I was little, I’m too scared to get hair transplant surgery, I’ve thought about wearing wigs but I don’t know how to wear them and am scared to embarrass myself and I genuinely have no idea what to do about skin picking disorder at this point. I’ve tried every single stim toy under the sun as well as bandaging my arms so i couldn’t access them but it’s done absolutely nothing, I’ve always relapsed and started picking again.

I know rationally that it’s all a self esteem issue. Most of my anxiety is around my weight specifically, and I’m pretty sure it stems from the reason that I was bullied for being overweight pretty much my entire childhood. theres parts of me that still havent healed from it and maybe I’m convinced that if I just lost weight and were skinny all of that wouldnt have happened and all that pain would be gone when in truth I would’ve been picked on regardless because it wasn’t ever really about my weight anyway, I was just easy to bully. I could probably change everything about myself be skinny and not balding and I’d probably still feel ugly and just find other flaws.
I know this is the most unphenomenal thing to be self conscious about, but I still am feeling so low because of it. It’s stupid because I myself don’t think other overweight people are inherently ugly, or that something about being overweight or balding makes someone else unsightly. It only ever applies to myself. And even if I WAS as terribly ugly and gross as my brain wants me to think I am, would it really matter that much to these people? I don’t know. I just wish I knew how to feel better about myself. Or build up enough motivation to actually do something about these things that are bothering me so much. I wish I knew how to get over binge eating and skin picking disorder easily, but I have a slight feeling that there truly is no easy way to just get rid of those.


I was fat during childhood, and yo yo dieted during half my adulthood. I’d get too skinny, then gain it all back then gain even more. When I was a kid, I was terribly reactive - the perfect victim for bullies and others who thrived on making their peers feel like shit. Although I was fat, I was sickly and malnourished, with chronic anemia and infections.

I avoided the mirror until I lost weight. When slender, I’m pretty good looking, according to others, but I really never saw it in myself. However, being both fat and thin, I gained a lot of perspective on how other’s perception of me changed, and I learned that those who’s perception didn’t change according to my weight were the ones worth having around. I will say that’s just about universal that people don’t like their own looks very much. They see flaws and things they wish were different. Actually, we never actually see ourselves, and the 2D image in the mirror isn’t really how we look. The only way a person can see themselves is if they create a perfectly accurate 3D statue of themselves.

Some people look good in pictures and others don’t. I’ve met many attractive people who rarely look good in photos. The body is an instrument, among other things, it’s a tool for expression and communication. When you hear beautiful music coming from an instrument, it’s likely that you’ll consider that instrument to be beautiful. The body is an instrument through which it can produce beauty in the form of empathy, supportiveness and compassion, among other positive things, and those with a bit of wisdom will associate beauty with that instrument (your body).

I realize that the above isn’t likely to change your perspective or fears, but I hope it’ll give something to think about which can support/reinforce other information you receive that will be helpful.

You do have insight regarding the problem of knowing intellectually that your looks aren’t a huge problem, but your feelings are telling you that they actually are.

You have deeply entrenched negative thought patterns and-self perception. I believe you need to receive ongoing therapy for a while to overwrite the falsely negative ideas you have towards yourself.

It’s a negative feedback loop, low motivation due to low self esteem, low self esteem because of low motivation.

Those habits are maladaptive coping strategies. They are stress responses. With less stress, there will be less compulsion to do those things.

Your main stressors are low self esteem and fear/anxiety. Those are the main issues that are triggering skin picking and binge eating, which in turn feed the low self esteem, etc.

With regard to fear, it’s like the ghost of a hungry lion that’s being mistaken as real. I have what used to be a horrible cat who’d slash my legs, drawing blood as I walked by. I discovered that if I slowed down and made eye contact with him, he’d just lay there and let me pass unmolested. I suggest you slow down and look your fear “in the eyes.”

I read an ancient book that discussed fear/anxiety and one of the recommended questions was, “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” When you consider visiting your girlfriend and her family, and everything goes wrong, it may suck, but they probably aren’t going to shoot you or hog tie you. It’s like considering, what could go wrong or what could go right. You know you’re truly strong enough to handle either situation.

You have an established caring relationship with this girl. The family really doesn’t have a right to tread on that. That awareness can give you strength.

Someday, you’ll be teaching someone that their outer appearance doesn’t diminish their inner personhood or value.

Trim your nails short and apply a substantial layer of lotion on those areas you’re tempted to pick. Gloves? Fidget spinner? A lap cat or puppy?

Hair replacement a tiny bit at a time? From what I’ve seen, women aren’t too concerned about baldness.

I’d like to remind you again, therapy can be very helpful.


Thank you for your response, it did make me think a lot and help me feel a bit better.
I was feeling very low that day, but it’s nice to reach out and hear from someone with similiar experiences. Though I’m aware that feeling self conscious happens to everyone, regardless of looks, sometimes it still feels so… personal, if that makes sense. As if it really is completely unique to myself, even though my mind rationally knows millions of people go through the same thing, so it’s nice to be able to hear from someone that no, this is a completely normal thing to go through.

You’re probably right, getting proper therapy should be my main focus, working on my issues and self esteem is going to better my negative self view as well and make it easier to break away from my bad habits like skin picking…I unfortunately haven’t been too lucky when it comes to looking for a therapist, but that’s a whole other issue.

I’ll try and focus on enjoying the visit for now, we have a lot of amazing things planned and you’re right- what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like I’ll be in any danger even if they do think I’m unsightly.

Again, thank you for reponding and I hope you have a wonderful day!