I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Before leaving the house today I changed my outfit twice, styled and then restyled my hair, and then reapplied my lip gloss. Giving myself a final once over in the mirror, I decided that I still wasn’t completely happy with what I saw, but I shrugged the feelings off as I knew it was just one of those days.

For most people, days like this will be few and far between. Sure we all have body hang-ups, but it is unlikely that it will end up ruining our lives. I mean let’s face it; we can’t all look like Beyoncé – even Beyoncé doesn’t look like Beyoncé without her trusted make-up artist and an airbrushing extraordinaire.

However for some people, poor body image can become a crippling condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). People suffering from BDD have a distorted view of how they look; the tiniest of flaws will become magnified and is the only thing they can see when they look in the mirror.

The thing about a condition like BDD is that it can easily get mistaken for vanity. Who doesn’t know someone who acts as though they are transfixed by their reflection, or whose conversation of choice always seems to revolve around what they look like. As they apply their third layer of make-up, you may be inclined to think that they should get over themselves; but if truth be told, they may actually need to get some help.

It is estimated that around 1 percent of people in the UK suffer from BDD, but experts claim the true figure could actually be a lot higher as people may be too embarrassed to approach their doctor in case they are written off as vain or self obsessed.

In any case, the booming plastic surgery industry which offers procedures on credit or ‘2 for 1’deals will usually be the first port of call for people wanting a fix for what they perceive to be broken. It is only when they receive little satisfaction from these procedures that they will decide to accept psychiatric or psychological help.


It is unclear what causes BDD, but there are currently two schools of thought floating around. It is argued that BDD could be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be triggered by things such as stress or abuse. Alternatively BBD could develop from low self-esteem making it purely psychological. Whichever theory is correct the fact is, once developed it is maintained by almost Obsessive Compulsive Disorder like tendencies, such as developing rituals for applying make-up or styling hair.

At its worse, BDD can cause people to develop severe depression and anxiety. Substance abuse is also common as those affected try and find ways to blot out the pain or feel more confident. Suicidal thoughts can occur in the most severe of cases, making it all the more important that help is sought before feelings spiral out of control.

Once diagnosed, there are treatment options available. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy allows people to learn new ways of thinking and coping with their emotions. The emphasis is usually around attitudes towards physical appearance in the hope that a more realistic view on what it means to be ‘perfect’ is achieved. Therapy can also be combined with antidepressants in a bid to address any chemical imbalance in the brain and to stabilise the sufferer while they try and confront their issues.

I could do something cheesy and sign off by quoting lyrics from TLC’s ‘Unpretty’, but it is probably better that I let you know there is a lot of information and useful resources on the web for people who would like to know more about BDD, and recommend that you visit your GP if you think you may have a problem.

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is more than just feeling a like you are having a bad hair day. If you answer yes to the questions below, you may have BDD.

  • Are you fixated on a part of your body in a negative way?
  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your appearance every day?
  • Do you engage in behaviours to check, hide, or fix your appearance (for example checking in the mirror, comparing yourself to others, grooming activities, or skin picking)?
  • Do you avoid any places, people, or activities because of your appearance concerns (for example, do you avoid bright lights, mirrors, dating, or parties)?
  • Does the way you look cause you anxiety, sadness, or shame?
  • Is the way you think you look causing problems with your job, relationship with your partner or family?

Courtesy of http://www.ifeelugly.org.uk

Useful sites




Celebrities with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Disorders such as this are not limited to just us mere mortals here are some celebrities who have or who are believed to have BDD.

1)      Michael Jackson. We were all witness to the ever changing face of Michael Jackson. Although he did not actually confirm he had BDD, many people believe he shows classic symptoms.

Michael Jackson

2)      Lily Allen.  Back in 2010, Lily Allen told Q Magazine that she was preoccupied with her body shape and had BDD

Lily Allen

3)      Uma Thurman. It may be hard to believe but the Kill Bill star announced in 2001 that she developed BDD after the birth of her daughter.

Uma Thurman

4)      Marilyn Munroe. Some people believe that the reason the blonde bombshell was never far from a mirror is because she too had body dysmorphia.

Marilyn Munro



W| By Taytula Burke

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