Dax Harwood Discusses His Battle With Body Dysmorphic Disorder


AEW star Dax Harwood from FTR spoke with Renee Paquette on The Sessions about his lifelong battle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and how it began during his days playing football in high school. Highlights from the interview can be found below.

On struggling with his weight after high school and forcing himself to vomit:

It was right after high school. I played high school football and was eating whatever because I was a lineman, so I was trying to get big. I got to 285 pounds. I had always been a big kid, but I got really really big and I continued to eat that way as a lineman after high school. Without the extra physical activity, I put on so much weight. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and I had a buddy who moved in with me and my dad, maybe a year before that because he had some family problems at home and he came to live with us. He was overweight too. One day, I caught him doing it, outside. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ ‘I’m sorry man.’ ‘Why are you doing it?’ ‘It helps me lose weight.’ ‘Does it work?’ ‘I went from this weight to this weight.’ I started doing it too and working out and trying to get into shape for wrestling school. Something that became routine. Addiction has never been a problem for me, so thankfully, I was able to stop. It got really bad to the point where every day, I would go outside so my dad wouldn’t hear me, and throw up.

How he got caught in cycle that was harmful to his health:

It was very scary when I realized I can’t go a day without doing this. The body dysmorphia, how I viewed myself and how embarrassed I was of myself. Then I was embarrassed of what I was doing. Then, it would become this cycle. ‘If I can get to this weight, I’ll stop and not be embarrassed about anything.’ I would lose the weight, but the body dysmorphia would never go away because one, you have it stuck in your head. Two, when you’re doing that, you’re not getting any nutrients in your body, so it’s hard not working out, I was never building any muscle mass. I got skinny fat. My body would get, to my opinion, I would look worse than when I was actually heavy. More than physically, it just wrecked me mentally.

He asks if all the hard work he does is just because he has negative images of his body:

Right after football (is when I started dealing with body dysmorphia). I gained a lot of weight, so I would wear the same clothes I had, they were super tight, but I was too prideful to buy bigger clothes, so I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘What’s going on with me?’ I’m from a very small town in North Carolina, we’re not the most health-conscious. I had no clue about carbs and fats and nutrition, I just ate meat. That’s when I started experiencing body dysmorphia. I never had it in high school. I would get called ‘fat’ in high school, but it never bothered me. Right after high school, it got really bad. That’s when I started experiencing the middle body dysmorphia. Now, I’ve gone from almost 300-pound fat guy, I’ve lost all this weight, and now I have this excess skin around my belly that I have to have surgery to get rid of, but with our schedule, I can’t do that. I get on social media as well, people see in my trunks and they don’t know what I’ve been through or what happened, they just see this and are like ‘oh my God, he looks like this, no wonder he’s not in the main event.’ You read that stuff and no one knows how much they are affecting the person. I can let most of it slide, but some days, waking up every morning, I’m doing this fasting thing, busting my ass in the gym, trying to eat right, working as hard as I can in the ring, trying to be the best wrestler in the world, that’s what I want to to do. Sometimes, I think I’m doing that just so you ignore the fact that I don’t have the best body. It’s a never-ending cycle, especially on social media.

Says all of this is a big reason he doesn’t want his daughter to get into the wrestling industry:

I try to make sure I teach my daughter not to be that way [put expectations on aesthetics], but also, I don’t want her to know how regimented I try to be on my nutrition and food. I don’t want her to know because I don’t want her to have that expectation that she has to grow up and do the same thing. Besides the shitty people that are in the business, that’s the main reason I don’t want her to be a wrestler. I don’t want her to go through that. The bumps and bruises and stuff, whatever, but dealing with self-image and how you have to meet people’s expectations, she’s going to have to, but I never want her to think about or go through that.

(H/T and transcribed by Fightful)

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