Body dysmorphia is when you view your body in a horrible light that does not match up with reality. This can cause you to obsess about your body’s imperfections and do whatever it takes to fix them. It is important to see a doctor or a therapist so that you can learn to see your body in the correct light to increase your self-esteem and your health.
You know that you have body dysmorphia if you feel like a particular part of your body is different than other people’s. You may be self-conscious because your feel like your ears are abnormally bigger than everyone else’s even though they may just be slightly bigger. You can be self-conscious about your acne even though it is normal for everyone to have that is either going through puberty, in the sun a lot, or is stressful. You could look perfectly fine but you will always find something wrong with the way you look. This can mean that you are constantly touching the part of the body that you do not like or always checking yourself because you feel like there is a part of your body that is stuck on you that you cannot get rid of. Anything with a reflection becomes your new friend like a mirror or a window or even the reflection of water. You just cannot help looking away.
Body dysmorphia is just like any mental illness or addiction where your mind is only on one thing. You feel like you cannot focus on anything such as school, work, or your social life because your mind is going on a loop of how you look. You may think that you look deformed, ugly, or hideous because you see a different image than other people see you. Body dysmorphia can really damage your social life because you feel like there is no way that anyone will like you or even love you because of the way you look. If anyone tries to talk to you or gives you a compliment, you question why that is. It can make it difficult to be in a romantic relationship this way as people like those who like themselves. All you can focus on is your imperfections which can shy you away from attending any social engagements.
Because we live in a world of social media, it is easy for us to get jealous when we see others doing well, maybe even better than we are doing. Those with body dysmorphia, on the other hand, will take what they see seriously. Someone may have posted a picture of their perfect gym body or wearing a beautiful dress with flawless skin and shiny hair. By seeing how nice everyone looks in their pictures, it will make them focus only on their flaws even more and wonder what is wrong with them that they cannot look “perfect” too. You need constant reassurance that you look fine or you will never believe it based on what you see when you look in the mirror.
Others with body dysmorphia will also try their best to hide their outer imperfections. It can mean wearing baggy clothes if they do not anyone to see their shape, wearing a ton of makeup, constantly dying their hair to avoid any white hairs, etc. They would also not prefer to talk about their looks as it can be a touchy subject to them. If someone notices something off about your look, you will take it personally. If someone compliments your look, you will not believe them or would wish they said something more highly of you. Body dysmorphia can also mean having rituals and repetitive behaviors in response to the troubling thoughts that you have and with a particular body part. This could mean constantly looking in the mirror, pinching any fat you have, brushing your hair so many times, continue to change your clothes, etc. It becomes an addiction to keep in check with your body because you want to convince yourself that you look fine but all of the evidence is still not enough to convince you. Even if you keep checking your weight on the scale, take multiple showers, or spend hours getting ready, it is still not enough. People may feel they have to do these rituals to help them feel calm and it may work but only short-term.
Another obsession people with body dysmorphia have is that they have to be up to date on the latest products or procedures to “fix” what is wrong with them. It can be a new moisturizer cream that is told to get rid of wrinkles, a new fad diet to lose an unrealistic amount of weight fast, or a new plastic surgery procedure that is told to work like a “miracle.” They could be involved in a new surgical procedure to minimize cellulite, constantly dying their hair, or taking laxatives to lose the weight faster. They could also be researching surgical procedures and spending a ton of money on plastic surgery. If you are not confident in the way you look naturally, this could prevent you from leaving the house so no one has to look at you. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful in changing your negative thoughts into positive ones. If you learn to like yourself and see your true beauty, others will love you just the same.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 1-888-570-7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.