AEW News

Dax Harwood Opens Up About His Battle With Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Dax Harwood in the ring

AEW star Dax Harwood has opened up on his struggles with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, revealing it has affected him since leaving High School.

Dax Harwood was recently a guest on ‘The Sessions with Renee Paquette‘ where the AEW star did not hold back when talking about his past.

One of the topics discussed during the show was his long-term battle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, something that began after he left high school and was no longer as physically active as he had been when he played football during his time there.

“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.”

Harwood went on to explain that it became a vicious cycle and took its toll on him mentally.

“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.

“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.”

The disorder continued to affect Dax Harwood into his pro wrestling career, and he says that people commneting on social media don’t know what he’s been through.

“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.”

Dax Harwood finished by explaining that he tries not to let his daughter see how regimented he is with nutrition and food so that she doesn’t grow up to do the same things. He added that he would prefer her not to follow him into wrestling so that she doesn’t have to deal with similar self-image issues.

“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.”

During the conversation, Dax Harwood also took issue with Shawn Michaels, claiming that the Hall of Famer made fun of him about a recent injury while with WWE. This was after Michaels had previously been supportive of the star who opened up about his struggles.

If you would like help or further information on Body Dysmorphic Disorder, in the UK you can contact MIND on 0300 123 3393 or visit the BDD Foundation website.

In the US, you can visit the Crisis Textline or Text CONNECT to 741741

H/T to Fightful for the above transcription.