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Health Matters

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Most of us ladies (and perhaps a few men) have an issue with some part of our body. I, for one, would at least consider the idea of putting in an order for a pert Hollywood-style bottom, with accompanying boobies that face the right direction. Almost all the women I know can name a  body part that they think could do with some renovation. Even the young ones with everything in the right place! These ideas, I think, are pretty normal considering we are constantly bombarded by subliminal messages about the ‘perfect’ body. I mean, if we go out and zombie-shop for washing powders, designer clothes and luxury cars because we’ve been brain-washed by the media, why wouldn’t we also start hankering for a Beyonce bottom, Kim Kardashian cheekbones or a Daniel Craig six-pack? Those of us with healthy outlooks are able to see the folly in our thinking, and while ‘perfection’ assaults us in our daily lives, we can resignedly accept our perfectly normal lumps and bumps without them spoiling our day. It’s only when we become preoccupied with what we perceive to be our ‘physical defects’, that we have a serious problem.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition associated with body image. With BDD people become
preoccupied with imagined or slight defects in their appearance, allowing those thoughts to cause significant distress and  disturb one’s daily functioning. Because of its implications, the disorder is also called ‘imagined ugliness’ or ‘dysmorphophobia’, which is the fear of having a deformity. Due to the anxiety associated with their ‘defects’ being seen by others, people with BDD may go to great lengths to avoid social situations. When they are obliged to go out and socialize, they are inclined to mask the perceived flaw with clothes arranged to conceal; they wear heavy make-up and hairstyles that help to hide a ‘defect’. Often, these people are unable to work and so live very isolated lives accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame.

BDD is characterized by the following behaviours:

  • constant obsession with the perceived defect
  • endlessly seeking reassurance about their appearance
  • always feeling their skin with their fingers to check the ‘flaw’
  • total belief that others notice the ‘flaws’ and talk about them
  • persistent monitoring of their appearance through mirrors or reflective surfaces
  • obsession with the ‘right’ hairstyle
  • frequent cosmetic procedures
  • refusal to have photographs taken
  • picking of skin to make it smooth
  • relentless comparison  with others.

Currently, treatment consists of ‘cognitive behavioral therapy’:

  • The patient ventures into social situations without covering up the perceived ‘defect.’
  • The patient removes mirrors, covers skin areas that the patient touches and does not use make-up.
  • The therapist attempts to assist the patient in changing their false beliefs about their appearance.

The cause of this condition is unknown to the medical profession, though it is obvious to most of us that these matters are related to deeply buried, very serious issues with our self-esteem and self-worth. A difficult emotional condition to deal with, healing is a life-time journey. In my opinion, therapy needs to also be directed at the individual’s sense of belonging in the world and their connection to their own purpose and meaning of being alive.

Famous BDD sufferers

A person famous for having BDD is  millionaire socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein. It is rumoured that she has spent over $4,000,000 on cosmetic surgery over the years, trying to ‘fix’ what was ‘wrong’.

According to an online Harvard Medical School article, ‘It is no secret that some celebrities may suffer from BDD. In fact, mental health experts have alluded to the fact that they have treated celebrities for BDD but could not share any names, mentioning that patients typically opt to keep their disorder a secret.


Although diagnoses have not been confirmed, some speculate that stars like Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe might have suffered from BDD. Obtaining over 30 plastic surgeries, and seldom showing his face without makeup, experts propose that Jackson suffered from the body image disorder. Monroe’s stylist believed that her obsessions with the mirror were a form of body dysmorphia through which Monroe sought to constantly examine and change her face. Most recently in the news for undergoing ten cosmetic surgeries in one day, Heidi Montag (below) may also suffer from BDD.



One last thought for the rest of us…..


About Yaz

Hi Everyone! Please check out my site. There you'll find a range of subjects on which I've expressed my world view. I always challenge myself and others to move out of their point of view and try seeing things from another perspective. Your point of view will always be there if you don't like mine! And I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you'll shift something in me. This is the journey to the True Self and I love it. Lots of love to you all!


7 thoughts on “Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

  1. Well done!! Tis true, we’re assaulted daily with perfection. It takes a strong character to move beyond it and see the beauty and grace of being healthy and happy. I know all too well as the mirror reflects the bodily changes as I age. I have determined the more I smile the less anyone will notice the flaws; besides it makes me happier too. I have a sense you feel as I do about surgeries; they are not for me. Thanks for posting as I feel this is a huge issue, perhaps not at this extreme level, however it is definitely a part of the culture that needs rectifying.

    Posted by Candia Sanders | November 28, 2012, 12:51 am
  2. Thanks for posting this, Yaz! I think Photo Shopped images in magazines and online don’t help either. Personally I don’t see why images aren’t left naturally. Why the need to alter everything? It makes me sad.

    Posted by reflectionsonlifethusfar | November 28, 2012, 1:27 am
  3. As a teenager I looked in the mirror so damn much that I discovered my teeth aren’t centred, my legs are too short for my body and all manner of horrible stuff! Served me right for looking so hard. Now I see my teenagers doing the same and there is nothing I can do. I will show them this. For me, once I grieved over my flaws, I realised that I could be happy anyway. It was kind of freeing to know that my flaws didn’t make a huge difference to my day. I wish all sufferers the same. You can’t know that it doesn’t matter until you show your ‘flaws’ to the world. And the photoshop comment is so true, above. They didn’t have photoshop when I was growing up but I knew a guy who was paid heaps to basically alter photos with cotton buds and alcohol. 😦

    Posted by Joy is now | November 28, 2012, 12:34 pm
  4. In my youth men watched their manners, acted tough but gentle to attract a woman. Most of the young men to day are not as comfident and are buying cosmetics and the latest in fashion to impress women. The blame lays on advertising and marketing the basic fault lays with desire on one hand and greed on the other.
    You are probably aware of this from your writing.

    Posted by jacksjottings | November 29, 2012, 1:20 pm
  5. HOW did I miss this one?? This article is excellent, Yaz.

    TRULY, I just recently took up yoga, & the teacher said to me, “Girl, your body loves yoga”. I said “What? I haven’t done it for 13 years! I feel like a big heavy elephant” and she said, “It’s all in your head, girl. It’s in your head.” This was extraordinary to me.

    The SCALES tell me I am the heaviest I have been ALL MY LIFE (including pregnancy). What the what, Yaz? I don’t know what…

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | January 14, 2013, 2:12 pm
  6. I completely agree with you. That’s the message I am trying to send in my campaign to stop celebrities being the cause body dysmorphic disorder for some girls. There is no such thing as having the ‘perfect’ body as perfection doesn’t even exist. We are all born different. We’re never going to be happy with the way we look. That’s just something we have to accept. We should not let it impact our daily lives. I think there are more important things than what we look like on the outside. It’s the inside that really matters.

    Posted by controlbdd | October 29, 2013, 3:20 pm

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