A person with body dysmorphia asked a woman at a pool party to cover up. Was she right?
Should a woman have to cover up her body if it makes someone else uncomfortable?
A post on Reddit’s AITA subforum brought up a compelling debate about how people approach the mental health of others. As friends, coworkers and family members of people with mental health issues, how far is too far when it comes to accommodating their unique needs and requests?
It all started when a person with the username GlumDemand, 30, went with his girlfriend Alex, 27, to a friend’s pool party and barbecue. Also attending that party was their friend, Christine, 37, who had recently had a child and was struggling with postpartum depression. She hoped that attending the party would help to “lighten her mood.”
Postpartum depression happens to some women after giving birth and can cause mood swings, a loss of appetite, low energy and feelings of inadequacy. In severe cases, it can lead to major depression or postpartum psychosis.
In Christine’s situation, the depression led to a bad case of body dysmorphia. People with body dysmorphia become obsessed with the perceived flaws in their bodies and it can cause unbearable feelings of insecurity. This can happen to women after they give birth because of the tremendous changes in their bodies.
All this came to a head at the party when Christina became triggered after seeing Alex’s body in a swimsuit.
Woman swimming underwater
“My girlfriend Alex … is a model/influencer, and as you can imagine she’s very beautiful, this is important,” GlumDemand wrote. “Everyone at the party is wearing some form of swimming gear, all of the guys are wearing trunks and tank tops or Hawaiian shirts, and the women are wearing bikinis or swimsuits. Alex stole the show. However, she didn’t wear anything too revealing or inappropriate, but it did turn heads.”
A mutual friend told GlumDemand that Christine was getting “upset” by Alex’s appearance and wanted to know if he could ask her to cover up a bit because it triggered her body dysmorphia.
“I was confused but I said okay, I talked to Alex and she said that while she understood she didn’t understand why she had to cover up for the sake of someone else’s feelings,” GlumDemand wrote. “Needless to say she didn’t do it.”
Two hours later, Christine left the party.
GlumDemand reached out to the Reddit AITA community to ask if he and Alex were in the wrong because she didn’t want to cover up. The responders overwhelmingly took their side in the situation.
“Having had PPD and BD, I sympathize. But I just avoided situations like this prior to therapy, and now have had enough therapy to deal. My mental health issues aren't my fault, but they're my responsibility,” Relevant-Ad6288 wrote.
“I love that line ‘my mental health issues aren't my fault, but they're my responsibility’ amazing, I hope it's ok to use it?” QuietlyFierce wrote in agreement.
Three men having a good time at a pool party
A Reddit user by the name of a Colo-rectal surgeon posed a hypothetical. “If this were an issue where someone was uncomfortable because they found the appearance of someone else's body very unappealing, then asking them to cover up would be out of the question,” they wrote. “Someone shouldn't have to cover up because they look ‘too good.’”
Some thought that Christine was downright rude to put Alex in that position.
“It's already not ok for Christine to ask someone to change their clothes for her comfort; it's doubly wrong to make Alex feel like her body is the problem,” wrote lefrench75.
Few people thought the original poster and Alex were in the wrong. But those who did questioned whether they were good friends. “Would it have been that hard to cover up to help someone out?” Lord_Buff74 asked. “You don't have to, and you can choose to be vain and selfish.”
“I would never try to do anything that would upset someone I consider a friend. If you said ‘a stranger at a party,’ I would be like yeah, it's a little different, but a ‘close friend’? You might think it's okay, but you probably lost a friend over this,” Kyouji added.
It seems most people agree that even though body dysmorphia isn’t Christine’s fault, it’s her responsibility to manage her issues. It’s also unreasonable for her to ask others to change their appearance. Even though some questioned whether Alex was being considerate of Christine’s feelings, it’s also fair to say that Christine put her in a very uncomfortable position.
Situations surrounding mental illness can be uncomfortable. The problem probably could have been resolved more compassionately if Christine and Alex had the space to discuss their issues so that everyone's feelings were considered.