Yellow bus on a multicolored striped background

Bus Dysmorphia

By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor

The air is getting humid, your cheeks are getting warmer, your trying to adapt to the heat in the tiny space you’ve found yourself in. Your shoulders feel strained from being pushed inward towards your chest.

All eyes are on you or that’s what you’ve made yourself believe. You don’t belong, you take up too much space to be in such a small seat that doesn’t even come close to containing your size.

You feel like a burden to the people who sit beside you and you try your hardest to make yourself smaller but it isn’t enough.

For not even an hour a day, people will sit on a bus and feel worse about themselves. For some, those worries go away when their ride is over, but for others, it can ruin their whole day.

Small spaces like buses aren’t accustomed to everybody and even the bodies they are accustomed to, still don’t feel comfortable in them.

Instinctively, people think about the amount of space their bodies are consuming when put into a small space. Imagine what it does to your self-esteem. To already know you take up a lot of room and then being put in a place where you have to take up someone else’s space as well.

It makes you feel as though you are a problem. You start to hate yourself and become paranoid thinking others see you the same way you see yourself.

Foggy grey background with a white and black bus in the middle
Bus Dysmorphia is a problem. Image by Timia Cobb via Canva.

Chairs, bathroom stalls, buses and crowded small spaces can cause stress or at least be a problem. Not everyone has to constantly worry about the amount of space they are taking up.

For example, if you’re under 5’3 and don’t weigh that much, you might consider yourself tiny enough to not worry about space or taking up someone else’s space. You see yourself as small enough to not be bothersome.

However, that doesn’t mean that someone who looks stereotypically healthy can’t experience body dysmorphia due to their surroundings. Anyone can.

Body dysmorphia, defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears to be minor or can’t be seen by others.

The problem here isn’t just small spaces. It’s taking someone who isn’t comfortable in their body and putting them in a place where they can repeatedly tell themselves their body doesn’t belong.

That their body is wrong because it doesn’t fit into a space that—ironically– many bodies can’t fit into.

A horrible experience like not being able to fit in an amusement park ride or getting stuck in a desk chair is just as bad as having body dysmorphia. Having to be reminded by the smallest thing– such as a bus seat–that your body isn’t right.

These situations build trauma and make people avoid situations that some don’t even have to think about.

It causes trauma because people will go out of their way to not feel the humiliation, embarrassment or stress of being put in a situation that sets them up to feel bad about how they look.

They can’t use public facilities or be normal because it could remind them of how much they dislike their bodies.

Feeling bad about your body isn’t something that can be solved overnight. Feeling comfortable in your skin can take years and isn’t something that once learned lasts forever. You can be happy with your flaws one day and be reminded of them the next due to a too-small bus seat.

The only solution is to learn how to love yourself but to also remember everybody is different. No one’s body is the perfect size or shape. The perfect body doesn’t exist.

The perfect body that society has crammed down our throats fits into every space. It’s slender and never has to worry about taking up someone else’s room. That body is an illusion. Having big thighs, using a wheelchair, being six-foot-tall, etc. is what reality looks like and that reality is too beautiful to fit into such small spaces.

Featured image by Sabrina Macias.

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