Hello everyone. Hope this finds you all well. I've been doing some thinking after reading this article put up by my modeling agency and it made me realize all those thoughts I've had about my penis ...and my body. Most of which stem from my own childhood sexual trauma. Sure, there were guys in my school who made constant fun of my obesity. Even worse was the lockerroom where I was publicly humiliated for the lack of size between my legs. One in particular tried to coerce me into fellating him in view of other classmates. When you grow up young, black, and questioning of your sexuality in a predominately black neighborhood it is hell. I grew up for years constantly hating the size of my body and hating the size of my penis. Little did I know years later that would all change. After losing over 75 lbs. I've gained some perspective: people find me more attractive and want to be with me. Now more than ever. Before it wasn't like that. Last night I even turned down sex with a go-go man from the bar I was drinking at. Didn't just turn it down, I ran off the train. It's scary and has blown open a whole new approach to thinking I've never really thought of before: Am I more man now that my body is more proportionate? What does it say about my current and future partners? What does it say about me? I went from a size 46" to 36" waist and I'm killing myself in the gym to get down to a size 32". In short, losing weight has made me even more shallow than before. I'm hyper aware of what I eat and spend 2-3 hours in the gym 5-6 times a week. That's not healthy. After reading this article I've come to realize that my concern over my body's appearance has been little more than a byproduct of other people's comments. Some of which I've come to believe were either envious of my proportions or were more secretly attracted than they cared to admit. Now I've come to realize maybe my tormentors really wanted to be like me. Looking back all of that may have fucked up my brain chemistry and cause me to do some dangerous things to myself. All because some people wanted me to not love myself and stay balanced. In my journey I hope to never take the place of those who put such thoughts of self-hatred in my mind. In the end I hope this can help others like me overcome such obstacles we place in front of ourselves. Hope you enjoy it and any feedback you contribute is welcomed. When your looks take over your life. by JANE R BRODY NY TIMES Is there a part of you that you hate to look at and perhaps try to hide from others? Do you glance at your image in distress whenever you pass a reflective surface? Many of us are embarrassed by or dissatisfied with some body part or other. I recall that from about age 11 through my early teens I sat in class with my hand over what I thought was an ugly bump on my nose. And I know a young woman of normal weight who refuses to sit down in a subway car because she thinks it makes her thighs look huge. But what if such self-consciousness about a perceived facial or body defect becomes all consuming, an obsession or paranoia that keeps the person from focusing on school or work, pursuing normal social activities, even leaving the house to shop or see a doctor? What if it leads to attemptedsuicide? Such are the challenges facing tens of thousands of Americans who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, or B.D.D., a syndrome known for more than a century but recognized only recently by the official psychiatric diagnostic manual. Even more recently, effective treatments have been developed for the disorder, and its emotional and neurological underpinnings have begun to yield to research. New Findings A pioneering researcher, Dr. Jamie D. Feusner, and his colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently found patterns of brain activity in people with B.D.D. that appeared to differ from those of others. The differences showed up in areas involved in visual processing. The more severe the symptoms, the more the persons brain activity on imaging scans differed, on average, from normal levels, the researchers reported in the February issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry. These brain changes may help explain how people can become overly focused on a perceived defect of their face, hair, skin or facial or body shape that others may not notice indeed, that may not even exist. Some turn to alcohol and drugs to try to cope with the extreme distress. Others seek cosmetic surgery which fails to relieve anxietyand can even make the problem worse, leaving scars where nothing was apparent before. Some men have a form of B.D.D. called muscular dysmorphic disorder, thinking they look puny and weak when in fact their muscles are highly developed through compulsive weight training. Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, a professor of psychiatry at Brown Medical School, is perhaps the best known authority on B.D.D. and the author, most recently, of Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder: An Essential Guide (Oxford University Press, 2009). In an interview, Dr. Phillips described how crippling the disorder can become for those who spend hours in front of a mirror trying to fix their ugly hair or disguise a facial blemish only they can see. Some pick at an unnoticeable mark on their skin until they do indeed have a visible lesion. Some wont leave the house unless they can totally cover their face and hair. Those who do go out without masking the area of concern sometimes suddenly flee and hide when they think someone has noticed it or is staring at them. Many trace their problem to a childhood emotional trauma, like being teased about their looks, parental neglect, distress over parents divorce, or emotional, sexual or physical abuse. But Dr. Phillips says most people survive such traumas without developing B.D.D., especially if other factors in their lives lift their self-esteem. Rather, she explained, the disorder seems to have a combination of genetic, emotional and neurobiological underpinnings. Its likely that the genes a person is born with provide an essential foundation for B.D.D. to develop, Dr. Phillips wrote. She noted that in about 20 percent of cases, a parent, a sibling or a child also had the disorder. Imaging studies done by Dr. Feusner, Dr. Phillips and others suggest that some brain circuits may be overactive in people with the disorder. One presumed factor societal emphasis on looks is far less important than you might think. Dr. Phillips said the incidence of B.D.D. was nearly the same all over the world, regardless of cultural influences. Also, unlike eating disorders, which mainly affect women seeking supermodel thinness, nearly as many men as women have body dysmorphic disorder. Which Treatments Work? The good news is that even though research into the causes of the disorder is in its relative infancy, treatments have been found to help a large percentage of those affected, as long as their problem is recognized and they manage to overcome their embarrassment long enough to get to a qualified therapist. The two most effective approaches are cognitive behavioral therapy and treatment with serotonin-enhancing drugs, either alone or in combination. In cognitive therapy, patients gradually learn to reorder their thinking, expose their defect to others and view themselves more realistically as whole individuals rather than seeing only the presumed defect. In studies using serotonin-enhancing drugs, half to three-quarters of people with B.D.D. have improved, although Dr. Phillips warned that it can take as long as three months to see the benefit of a proper dose. (Moreover, there is still controversy about how many people achieve long-lasting benefits from the serotonin drugs.) What does not work is plastic surgery and other cosmetic treatments. Even if the treatments modify one presumed defect, the person is likely to come up with another, and another, and another, leading to a vicious cycle of costly and often deforming as well as ineffective remedies. Most important, Dr. Phillips said, is not to give up. Effective treatment is out there and it can make a tremendous difference even a lifesaving difference. Her new book lists centers around the country that specialize in treating B.D.D.