Body Dysmorphia & Body Image

Written by Dr. RJ

  |  Reviewed by Jen Bell

Body dysmorphia, or BDD, is a severe type of distortion of one’s body image. It affects 2% of the population and is strongly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People suffering from BDD often get obsessed with small or nonexistent physical abnormalities. For instance, someone may be concerned about their eyes being uneven or their hands being too large. They are often far more aware of their perceived faults than others around them.

People suffering from BDD often think their claimed defects make them seem ugly or even deformed. They often spend a great deal of time engaging in compulsions to compensate for this defect, including excessive grooming. People often experience significant discomfort as a result of their body dysmorphia. Some may avoid being in public, out of embarrassment about their looks. Still, people often delay getting treatment for their problems out of fear of seeming vain.

In contrast to eating disorders, body dysmorphia is often not associated with worries about one’s weight. Rather than that, BDD is often focused on a single body region, such as the nose or ears. The exception to this is muscle dysmorphia, a kind of BDD in which individuals are concerned about their muscularity.

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Cosmetic Surgery, between 8% and 15% of people who suffer from BDD seek plastic surgery. Unfortunately, 90% of individuals with BDD who have cosmetic surgery are unsatisfied with the outcome, and many report that their symptoms worsen. Suicide is 45 times more prevalent among individuals with BDD than in the general population. This is why mental health therapy is essential for anyone suffering from body dysmorphia.

Remember, there are many ways to counter the external challenges you will face in your journey to develop a healthy body image and self-esteem. Since Day 1, you’ve had everything you need within yourself – don’t let the world convince you that you do not. Know that YOU are inherently worthy and have the power to love yourself in the way you desire by making small choices and commitments to yourself everyday. Remind yourself of this truth daily. With practice it will get easier and you will likely start to notice a difference in the way you feel.