Imagine looking in the mirror and instead of seeing a truthful reflection of your appearance, you’re confronted by something much more menacing. You might see a body — your body, in fact — with warped, distorted or defective features, the same way you might perceive yourself in a funhouse mirror. And then, against all reason, your brain speaks up to reassure you, “yes, that’s correct, that’s exactly what you look like.”
This is the reality faced by people struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, a mental health condition in which one can’t stop thinking about and magnifying perceived defects or flaws in their appearance, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although these “flaws” may seem minor or even verge on unnoticeable to others, to the person struggling with BDD, they can be all-consuming to the point where sufferers may completely lose touch with what they actually look like.
“Dysmorphia is like looking through a funhouse mirror and your brain is forcing you to accept that what you see is the truth, even though it is not,” Amanda Lien once described the brutal condition.
Cassidy Tweedt, a 27-year-old student and bartender in Waterloo, Iowa, who struggles with both BDD and bipolar disorder, is actively doing her part to shatter the funhouse mirror by encouraging women to share their measurements in a bid to help those with the disease contextualize their appearances and regain footing in reality.
“This is my body and these are my measurements,” Tweedt, who is currently pursuing a career in music therapy, said in the July 8 TikTok that started the trend. “And you might be wondering why I’m sharing these with you.”
“It’s because sometimes I look at girls and I so desperately want to know if that’s what I look like to other people because my body dysmorphia can get so bad, I have no idea what I look like or what size I am,” she explained. “Another girl I follow posted her measurements for clothes, but I saw her and I was like, wow, that’s the same size as me but she looks so much different than how I see myself. And I thought it was so helpful to see a girl my size. So here you go, this is me.”
Tweedt’s original video, which was viewed over 182K times, prompted multiple viewers to request she recreate the clip as an original sound so that others could duplicate it. On July 9, she did just that, prompting over 100 TikTokers to share their measurements in similar videos using her audio.
Tweedt, who has dedicated her social media presence to body acceptance content and her personal eating disorder recovery journey, told In The Know her body image issues began at an early age while she was growing up in Texas and Alabama.
“I grew up as a chubby tomboy and was bullied relentlessly,” she explained. “I moved to Iowa for college and never went back.”
After joining TikTok for entertainment, Tweedt says she happened upon a video series by a woman named Sab documenting her journey toward a more mindful lifestyle. Her videos prompted Tweedt to do her own original series, which she called “Happier, Healthier Me.”
“I would document small segments of my day and edit them together with small wins, or losses in regards to mental health and making healthier body choices, not necessarily losing weight,” she explained. “I would talk about things like accepting an outfit I thought was ‘unflattering’ or discuss days when my mental health was at a low and I didn’t want my own body anymore.”
“This is what originally sparked my interest in creating more body acceptance content,” she added. “I found that filming myself and seeing myself the way I wanted really helped me love my body and imperfections.”
As she made her segue into creating more self-love content on TikTok, Tweedt came across one standout video that helped her see herself in a way she’d never been able to before.
“I saw a woman’s TikTok in which she posted her measurements for clothing try-ons and I thought, ‘Wow, those are my measurements but she looks so much smaller than I think I do!'” Tweedt told In The Know. “For years I have looked at women and wondered, ‘Is that what I look like?’ Not to compare or be toxic, but body dysmorphia simply does not allow you to view yourself the way the world does.”
“The next day I decided to post my exact measurements from head to toe,” she continued. “If I could help even one person see themself, I was happy to share it.”
Although Tweedt was initially concerned over how her video would be received, she said the response from the TikTok community was “more positive than I could’ve ever hoped for.”
“I was worried initially people would think I was encouraging comparison, but I saw nothing but love from other women,” she shared. “I definitely did not plan on women using my sound to make their own videos and spread more and more body sizes. The variety was so stunning to see.”
“Now there are over 100 videos of different shaped women to help others, and for that, I am so humbled and thankful,” she added.
Tweedt says the majority of the feedback she’s gotten on her videos surrounding eating disorder recovery and her journey toward self-love has been wildly positive.
“I get a lot of love from the community simply hyping me up in all ways,” she told In The Know. “I also get the most heartfelt comments from people saying they ate today because of me, or they loved themselves a little more because of my video. Those comments make me cry almost every single time. I never imagined I would have that sort of impact on another person.”
When she does get the intermittent rude comment — often from “younger children” — Tweedt typically takes the opportunity to turn the hate into a learning moment for her viewers.
“I know people make those comments from a place of hurt, so I delete them and move forward with grace,” she said. “Occasionally, I will make a response video urging people to stop the hate because even though I can let it go, others will hurt themselves or starve themselves over comments like those.”
Tweedt says she ultimately hopes that through her viral self-love campaign she can encourage her followers to love themselves and their bodies in the face of negativity — even when she isn’t in their ear reminding them that they are worthy.
“You will never be able to control what others think, do, or say about you. Taking on the burden of others’ opinions will always bring you down,” she said. “Just be you all over the place. Be you loudly and boldly. You were not made to be an ornament for others. You were not made to please others. You are worthy and lovable just as you are, and I’ll tell you that every day of the week until you can tell that to yourself.”
If you enjoyed this story, check out our favorite body acceptance TikTokers.
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