Body Dysmorphia

“What would you change about your appearance if you could change one thing?”

I’m sure that everyone could come up with some sort of answer to this question, whether they want clear skin, fewer stretchmarks, a flat stomach, smaller hips, bigger breasts, a smaller nose, shinier hair, etc. Most of us have a couple things we wouldn’t mind changing about ourselves, but these perceived flaws generally don’t hold us back from living our lives. I don’t always love my big hips, but it doesn’t keep me from leaving the house and engaging in social situations.

Most women suffer from some insecurities, especially when it comes to the way our bodies look. I’ve always had a slightly skewed body image and used to beat myself up over not looking the way I thought women were supposed to look (i.e. very thin with small hips and a large chest, basically the opposite of my body type). I still see things I’d like to change about myself when I look in the mirror, but just as I’m working on being the healthiest me physically, I’m also working on being the healthiest me emotionally and mentally. Health isn’t just about being a certain size or weight or looking healthy, it’s about feeling good about yourself and treating yourself with love.

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Some women suffer from something a bit deeper than just insecurity about their body, some women suffer from an actual mental disorder in which they are constantly thinking about their perceived flaws and trying to change them. Body Dysmorphic Disorder can be a serious problem, especially with today’s access to potentially dangerous “quick fixes” in the weight loss industry and people trying to make a quick buck off the insecurities of others (for more on scams in the weight loss industry, check out Scam Alert). Many plastic surgeons actually screen their patients for BDD before performing any procedures on them as many who suffer turn to plastic surgery to “fix” their body issues. People suffering from BDD are not satisfied with their appearance even after drastic measures, this is why we sometimes hear stories of people who undergo 12 different plastic surgeries because the physical changes do not bring them the happiness they seek.

Often times people who suffer from this disorder are actually very attractive to others, but still only see their perceived flaws. They generally spend hours every day thinking about their flaws and see them as a lot more prominent than these flaws appear to others. Most of us can look in a mirror or at a photo of ourselves and see ourselves the way we actually look, but for some the image they see is so skewed from reality that it can become a serious problem in their life. You have probably met someone who is coming to mind right now that exhibits some of these behaviors. Not everyone with a skewed view of their body is necessarily suffering from BDD, but if you’re concerned for someone in your life or for yourself, please speak up.

If you think your body image issues might be something more than just normal insecurities, you should consult with a medical professional to see if you’re suffering from BDD. This disorder can lead to other dangerous disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, so please do not hesitate to seek help.

**I am NOT a medical professional and this is NOT intended to be medical advice, please seek the help of a medical professional such as a physician or therapist if you think you’re suffering from BDD or an eating disorder.**

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