Body Dysmorphia and Our Need For Perfection

Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, “ugh, I can’t stand the way my _____ looks” fill in the blank. Or have you ever responded to a compliment with a negative talk about your body? And lastly, have you ever looked on Instagram or photos and say “I wish my _____ would look like that”? Again, fill in the blank. I have and I can imagine so have you. But usually we just say things and shrug it off and go on with our lives. However, some women take it to the next level known as body dysmorphia also known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). I say women as it is more common in women than men. With all the stress that society puts on for us women to look a certain way in order to feel happy and fulfilled it is no wonder we have such negative views about our bodies.

Meaning of Body Dysmorphia/Body Dysmorphic Disorder:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a serious disorder where a person is overly concerned about their appearance or their minor physical flaws. This worrisome controls their life as they constantly look in mirrors, hide their “flaws” or pick at their skin incessantly. It is a mental disorder where no matter what, they magnify that one area or areas such as acne, scar, size of their nose, breast size or the shape of their body as a problem that they must fix.

What causes BBD:

This is usually brought on by perfectionism but can also be stemmed from family with BBD or obsessive compulsive disorder. Another way is by having a traumatic childhood, just as being teased, bullied or abused. And lastly as I mentioned above, it could also stem from a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety.

Signs of BBD:

Usually tell tale signs of having Body Dysmorphic Disorder has a lot to do with comparison however these are also other signs as well:

  • Having a strong belief that you have a major defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed

  • Spending so much time, energy and anxiety focusing on minor flaws which cannot be seen by others

  • Constantly picking at the skin

  • Excessive looking at yourself in the mirror and grooming yourself

  • Hiding the perceived imperfection

  • Constantly comparing yourself to others to where it becomes your biggest worry

  • Constantly seeking validation and reassurance from others about how you look only to not believe them when they give you compliments

  • Getting cosmetic surgery but to still not like what was done

Does BBD affect women over 40?

This all depends on the industry a woman is in and it also depends on if they meet any of the causes I have listed above. Normally BBD will start in adolescence and teens, however if not treated, it can magnify even more when we get older as we feel we need to hold onto our youth and change to make us perfect. This happens most in women in front of the camera or whose identity relies on their body and looks. It is the syndrome of “never good enough”.

How to treat BBD:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder may lead to an eating disorder or excessive exercise to try to “fix” the flaw if they see themselves as having a rounder shape, or if their arms are too flabby, or if they are not muscular enough. The main way to treat Body Dysmorphic Disorder as it is a mental issue is with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I recently did a podcast on this topic as it is something I am currently using in my therapy. By using CBT it may put you into a situation where you are in social situations and forced not to check or cover up your “flaws”, as well as to work on certain exercises such as not looking at mirrors or spend less time getting ready or not wear any makeup at all.

How do you know if you have BBD:

Definitely take this short quiz on the BBD website to see if you suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Please make sure to seek professional help if you do suffer from this disorder as it could help save your life.

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