Posted by: Chris Maloney | June 7, 2012

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Are We All Victims?

Do These Jeans...

Do These Jeans… (Photo credit: Suzy Forcella)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Food Restriction Due To Body Image Disorder Linked With Suicide Risks.

Here’s the rub for someone with Dysmorphic Disorder:  everyone else thinks they’re beautiful.  The definition of the disorder is that others cannot see the fault which the person thinks is so hideous.  If you obsess about your beautiful nose more than an hour a day, then you have the disorder.  But if you have a legitimately funky-looking nose, then you don’t qualify.

Wikipedia states it this way:  It may be difficult to distinguish BDD from accurate (and justifiably emotionally fraught) self-perception by a perceptive individual who is actually physically disfigured in some way that would be acknowledged by others.

So if you have a funky nose and obsess about it for an hour a day, then our society says you don’t have a disorder.  Instead, you have an opportunity to visit a plastic surgeon.  The plastic surgeon will “fix” your problem.

In our society where almost everyone is seen as imperfect, is it any wonder that only 1-2% of the population qualifies for BDD?  The rest of us just don’t look quite flawless enough to qualify.  Instead, we are sold perfumes, clothing, surgical treatments, cosmetics, and any number of improvements based on our low self-image.  If you think you look reasonably good, just give enough advertisements a chance and you’ll feel horrible.  I remember being in Thailand, home of the very thin woman, and seeing all the plump, buxom models selling skin-whitening cream.  Perfect doesn’t sell products, so they created an impossible goal for that population.

How many of you do NOT have some aspect of your body you think could use improvement?  If you do, then you have the beginnings of BDD.  Just add enough obsession and depression, and we can all get there.  Only it probably will be diagnosed as depression rather than BDD unless the doctor finds you beautiful.

We should all weep for the those with BDD, not just for them, but for all of us for whom the standard of beauty has become so impossible that even those who achieve it are killing themselves in despair.



  1. I plead guilty to this. I’m 5’1 tall (or short) and even if my weight dipped to 114lbs, I still felt fat. I didn’t have to go through therapy though. Just some validation from my husband, family and friends although there remains a little struggle from within until now. Thank you for this post!



  2. Thank you for sharing! I went through a period in my teens when I thought my nose was the biggest thing in the world. Even considered saving my pennies for a nose job. Fortunately I didn’t have the money, because the nose is the only thing that balances out my enormous chin. Perfection through imperfection is the only way to go.

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