First off, just so you know what BDD stands for, it’s body dysmorphic disorder. I came to the conclusion that I was suffering from BDD and that my BDD resulted in me destroying my own hair, which I wrote about before. Click here if you’re interested in reading that article. Thus, I thought I’d write this article to make people more aware of BDD.
BDD is a condition that can affect anyone, it’s not just something females develop, which is often the perception. Over the years I’ve watched as more recognition has been given to male sufferers of BDD. There is now a lot more effort to improve the mental health of men due to such realisations.
An online poll conducted by YouGov (as reported by the Mental Health Foundation) found that 20% (one in five) of over 18 UK respondents felt shame about their bodies, with (34%) feeling depressed about their bodies, and 19% feeling disgusted with their bodies.
You Might Have BDD If You…
BDD is often compared to OCD (OCD UK) because of the way you can be consumed with thoughts about your appearance and the behaviours you might engage in to manage and soothe those compulsive thoughts.
Therefore, if you are overly preoccupied with a particular part of your body, then this could be a sign you’re struggling with BDD. This might express itself through you comparing yourself to other people a lot, constantly needing to check yourself in mirrors or avoiding mirrors, using a lot of makeup to try and hide flaws, etc.
This is because BDD is very strongly linked to self-esteem. Mix that with the pressure to conform to society’s standard of beauty and you can develop false beliefs about appearance. The kinds of beliefs that can develop are stuff like “People won’t want to hang around with me if I’m ugly” and “What’s the point in living if I’m not attractive”.
If you’re in need of constant reassurance about how you look, then you could have issues with BDD. This need for reassurance can appear in a number of different ways. You could directly ask someone, like a partner, to comment on your appearance or create situations where you’re fishing for compliments. Another, more indirect way, is through the constant sharing of images of yourself in the hopes people will give you positive feedback on your appearance online.
Do you spend a lot of time combing and styling your hair, applying makeup, engaging in lengthy grooming rituals, or looking in the mirror for prolonged amounts of time? If any of these sounds familiar, then you may have BDD. This is especially true if any of these activities are getting in the way of your day-to-day activities. For example, you’re routinely late for work because you have to look perfect.
If you’re looking through beauty and fashion magazines, flicking through Instagram, or watching TV shows and films and thinking you wish you had body parts from the different people in them, then you could have BDD. Also, if you’re looking at pictures of yourself and obsessing over what you’d change about yourself or constantly focusing on a specific feature about yourself, then you may have BDD.
Although such warning signs of BDD don’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from it, you may still want to work on your self-esteem anyway. Long-term happiness comes from being comfortable with being you, rather than trying to live up to unrealistic standards the media tells us we should be.
My BDD Story
In my younger years, I used to have a huge problem with getting horrible yellow spots all the time. I would constantly need to check my face in the mirror and check my face for spots with my hands. It was so bad that I would carry a little mirror around with me just so I could check when no one was looking, as often men’s toilets wouldn’t have mirrors.
I have also engaged in mirror avoidance which is one of the reasons there aren’t many photos of me. The childhood racially motivated abuse I suffered growing up made me acutely aware of my appearance and ended up becoming part of my anxiety disorders when they later developed.
The racially motivated abuse I endured during my childhood destroyed my self-esteem and left me suicidal by the time I was eight years old. Because my abuse was racially motivated, being white was the attractive norm I could never achieve, even though being white was the only thing I wanted. It got so bad I took a brillo pad to my skin to scrap the dirt off my white skin. Obviously, that didn’t work, because I wasn’t dirty. I was black.
It took me a long LONG time to be comfortable in my skin tone, but by then I’d destroyed my hair because I couldn’t stand a single strand of hair being out of place in my dreadlocks. This meant I constantly hit my head to flatten hairs sticking out, which causes my fingers to swell and gave me headaches all the time.
I also pulled my hair out, all in the name of having perfect black person dreads. I’m from mixed ethnicity and thus don’t have the tight afro hair that others do, so it was an impossible perfection I could never achieve. As a result of my hair-destroying behaviours, I caused permanent traction alopecia, and now my head is like a patchwork quilt of hair and bald patches.
The irony of destroying my hair is that it’s now created issues around body image due to the patchwork bald patches on my head. Baldness is a common concern among men, and black women, due to trying to have western hairstyles. All over bald, I could at least live with, but the patchwork baldness means my hair will start to grow back after I’ve shaved it. Within a few hours, you can see where the patches are.
Male Pattern Baldness (MPB)
Baldness is very common in men, and we’re all accurately aware of it and most men fear it. But women can suffer from it too, which can be just as damaging to their self-esteem.
Whatever your gender identity is, the progressive thinning of your hair isn’t something that anyone wants. It is seen as less desirable than a full head of hair, even if it is due to a simple genetic variation. Society often mocks people who have a retreating hairline or who have gone bald, and we notice that. I noticed that and deeply fear that.
In men, this generally isn’t just a BDD issue, but rather something that makes up a bigger picture of concerns, which is often based on masculinity. However, if you’re lucky enough to have strong and high self-esteem, then often going or being bald doesn’t matter to the person.
For those of us whose self-esteem lives in the gutter, you try to find solutions to hide your baldness, solutions such as hats and wigs. Because my hair-destroying behaviours included hitting my head a lot, my head isn’t smooth (I call it my gold ball head, because that’s what it looks like with its little dents) and makes it impossible for me to shave it properly.
It’s also an issue that my hair seems to grow quickly and thus you can see the patchwork of bald patches within a few hours. Thus, head coverings have become my best friends. Although I now have to live with the anxiety that someone will pull my head covering off and exposing my patchwork hair. Fun.
How BBD Can Express Itself In Other Disorders
Basically, an eating disorder is where you’ve developed an issue with food, often due to concerns about your size and/or weight. This can mean you eat too much or not enough. I have had a complex issue with food all my life. Click here if you’re interested in reading more about my issues with food. I’ve also finally been given a referral to an eating disorders clinic.
If you’re showing signs of BDD but are also showing signs of an eating disorder, then usually you’ll only be classed as having an eating disorder. This is because there’s an overlap between the two disorders.
However, it is still possible to be diagnosed with both because you could be obsessed with features of your body unrelated to weight and size, as well as having a dysfunction around eating due to weight or size concerns.
This is supported by Mind, who states that BDD and eating disorders aren’t the same disorder, which they’re not. Someone with an eating problem is mainly bothered about their weight and shape. Whereas a person experiencing BDD is likely to experience other concerns as well around their body image.
Mind also goes on to say that not all people with an eating disorder will have BDD, as the reasons for their eating disorder can be unrelated to body image. For example, eating disorders can develop due to comfort eating to feel better when feeling low or avoiding food to gain control because they don’t feel they have any control in their life.
Just because eating disorders can exist without BDD, that doesn’t mean that it’s not uncommon to be comorbid; eating disorders and BDD. I believe I’m one of those people to be comorbid. My BDD is born out of the racist abuse I lived through growing up, whereas my eating disorder developed in my 20s which wasn’t anything to do with wanting to be slimmer, as back then I wanted to put on weight even though I would often starve myself. I think my eating disorder came out of a form of self-harm or punishment. Later on, that would change as I developed issues with binge eating and starvation cycles until I developed reactive hypoglycemia.
Another body image issue that is largely found in men, but women can and do suffer from it too, is muscle dysmorphia. This is where the person will be consumed with thoughts about wanting to have bigger muscles, and no matter how big they may be, they’re still not satisfied. This can result in steroid use to help them build up their muscles faster, and in some cases, has led to deaths. If you excessively work out and still aren’t happy with your muscles, then there is a chance that you’re suffering from this form of BDD.
The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation has a nine-question questionnaire that you might want to take if you feel that you may be suffering from BDD. Click here if you’d like to take it. Regardless of the results, if you feel you may have BDD, then you should speak to your GP and get a professional opinion. Questionnaires are nothing more than a guide, rather than a definitive way to get a diagnosis.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with BDD and/or issues around body image in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time,
Unwanted Life readers.
The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation has a page with links to support groups, which also has online groups that have two in America which might better suit some people’s time zones. If you want to check out these groups, you can do so here: https://bddfoundation.org/support-groups.
74 thoughts on “Do I Have BDD? Making Enemies Out Of Mirrors”
Interesting and powerful post. Thanks for sharing https://uncuaderno4cero.wordpress.com/
Thanks for reading
This was a very interesting read! I had just heard about BDD, but never truly understood how deep it could go and how many problems it could also create and relate to. Thank you for sharing x
Body image issues can really dig its roots deep into you and spread
I had tears in my eyes when I read you used a brillo pad on your skin to get it white. It’s stories like this that make me ashamed of being white.
I hope life is much kinder to you now.
It’s hard to say if life is kinda to me now, I guess maybe indifferent, as the health fall out from my childhood plays out
Thank you, you too
Very informative. I think we all struggle with this at least a little
There certainly are a few industries that benefit from making us feel that way, that’s for sure
A truly insightful post – thank you.
Thanks for reading
I’m sorry you went through both BDD and food disorder. It can happen nowadays to most of us and keep worrying so much over paprt of our body. Thank you for highlighting this topic and bring useful information and sharing your story..
Thanks for reading
Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing your story. I can see how this could be a common struggle, particularly in age of social media.
The age of social media has probably made body image issues more likely in our young ones today
I think a lot of people are somewhere on a spectrum of hating something about the way they look. I know I am. When I was younger, I always felt that my appearance put me in the first impression hole with people, and that I was stuck digging out of that hole. As a result, I sometimes tried too hard to compensate. Also, I didn’t know there was a name for it – BDD. I’ve always informally called it Funhouse Mirror Syndrome, or the tendency to always have a warped or distorted perception of one’s appearance. How do people see me? How do I see myself? Where’s the middle where the two meet for some kind of elusive objective “truth?” I don’t know, and probably never will. As I get older, it matters less what people think of my appearance. To hell with them, if that’s their metric! I’m comfortable enough in my own skin, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find any photos of me online. Some habits die hard. lol
I actually like the name you gave it, Funhouse Mirror Syndrome, I might have to steal that ?
It’s great that you’re starting to care less about what people think about you, but you’re right, some habits are hard to shake. But if you know there are few photos online of you as a result of your Funhouse Mirror Syndrome, maybe it’s time to make a plan to change that and break that old habit?
Thank you for being so upfront and honest. I can see how Instagram ‘perfection’ could be a trigger for this. All best wishes for good health to you.
Thank you. The need for the impossible perfection is harmful to all of us
Thanks for sharing your insight and personal story.
Although I don’t really have an BDD issues I used to be obsessed with my weight and looking ‘ripped’. This resulted in me exercising about 4 hours a day. It never made my appearance look any better and just resulted injuries.
The funny thing is I only do 30 minutes to an hour at the gym now and I look just as good as when I spent all that time down there!
Four hours a day is a lot, no wonder you kept injuring yourself, but at least you’ve got it under control now. Are you happier now as well?
Much happier, I found when I turned my gym goals about performance (get stronger, faster) I stop caring about getting the perfect look.
Glad to hear you’re in a better frame of mind
What an insightful post! Thank you for this, I’ve definitely learned a few things today.
Thank you. I’m glad you learnt something new
Such an interesting read. I do think that I have this but only very slightly. I see someone in the mirror that other people don’t see. I’ve always felt bigger, more stretched out and frumpier than everyone else around me. It started in middle school where I shot up above the whole year group and hit puberty verrry early.
So interesting to hear it from another point of view and know that I’m not alone
Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you’ve made progress on resolving these unhelpful negative thoughts about yourself?
This is a really interesting and important post. I totally relate and suffer badly with this. I won’t have any mirrors in my home and avoid them. Siobhan ♡ | Vegan Babe Life
Have you considered using a graded exposure plan to try and over come it?
No I hadn’t. I just carry on hating myself and go about my day ??
Well, if you ever feel like trying to stop hating yourself, check it out
Thanks I will ??
I have not heard of BDD before, so I enjoyed this informative post. You always have a soulfelt reason for sharing what you do and I love that I can feel passion in it. I connect with having felt surges of dissatisfaction with the way I look, but I am aware many people end up not being able to work through it or do not reach out for help, so writing like this is a great encouragement to the people who need it!
Thank you. I’m sorry to hear you’ve also experienced some dissatisfaction with the way you look, hopefully you’ve overcome it now?
Yes! I am all about helping others find their way to do the same. 🙂
A very good thing to do ?
This was such a great post! I have personally struggled with my self image ever since I was a young child. I got curious and took the assessment located in the link you provided. I don’t have BDD according to the assessment but it really did put some things into perspective for me, specifically on ways to improve my confidence. Thank you for sharing!
I’m glad you found the assessment useful and helped to put some things in perspective
What a powerful article. I can relate, as I’m sure many others do. I’ve struggled with my body image for years until I realized as long as I am healthy it doesn’t matter what size I am. Even when I modeled (those were the worst years), I never felt thin enough, pretty enough because I was in an industry that made you complete with other thin pretty women. Only when I retired after 20 years did I realize how much mental damage I was subject to — mostly from my self esteem and how I viewed me. I look back at pictures and want to shake that girl and say are you kidding me? Thanks for sharing your post.
Thanks for sharing your experience with body image issues, I can’t even begin to image how bad body image issues are within the modeling profession. By the sounds of it you’re in a much better place now?
Thank you for sharing such a personal and informational post! I have heard of this before but never knew much about the details. I think learning about such things is the doorway to all of us being more empathetic and understanding and imthay will never happen unless people are willing to share thier personal experiences so thank you for broadening my horizons with your story!
Indeed, if people don’t share their stories than how can anyone come to understand it. Thanks for reading
This article gave me insights of people who may be showing indication of BDD. With the social media defining what is beautiful , i feel like the probability of people suffering from BDD increases. Appreciate that you shared your personal story. All your articles create awareness.
Thank you ☺️ I think it’s definitely something we all need to be aware of if we’re going help the younger generation to grow up with a healthy mindset
This post gives great insight into the realities of BDD and I’m sure will educate a lot of people!
What an interesting post and so powerful, thank you for sharing your story. It made me very emotional reading it but by sharing your story you will help so many.
Thank you for reading it
Such a great read and thanks so much for being vulnerable and sharing your story for us. I think it’d easy for anyone to fall within the spectrum of this disorder because of the pressures that social media places on us. It makes use think that whatever we see on social media is reality, when in fact alot of it is actually the opposite. You are pressured to be perfect and look a certain way, that it is so easy to get obsessed with it all.
Indeed, platforms like Instagram are largely a fabricated reality, whereas Facebook is selected reality, with both seeking to create envy for a reality that doesn’t really exist
Always love your informative, personal posts. talking about these issues is so important. When I was I’m school, I used to give my packed lunches away or throw them out because I thought I looked horrible and huge (I wasn’t huge at all). It’s so hard to work through these issues. It took me a long time. Hope you’re doing okay.
Sorry to hear you went through something similar yourself, but thank you for sharing your experience
I’m not sure I’ll ever get over mine. After my own hair destorying behaviour caused permanent traction alopecia, I don’t know how I’ll ever recover unless I can permanently get rid of the rest of my hair or at least fill in the bold patch gaps my behaviours caused
I have suffered from this my entire life and honestly I avoid mirrors for the most part. I am learning to love myself, but it is so hard when your image of yourself can be so negative. I am trying to overcome my feelings about my body and become the healthiest version of myself both mentally and physically. It’s a long journey, but your post really is inciteful and helpful to someone like me.
I’m sorry to hear you’ve also experienced body image issues, but thank you for sharing your experience. I hope you continue to make progress with over coming it
An informative honest post. I’m always amazed at your bravery to share your stories. I am not going to lie, I’m so glad I grew up and learned to love myself before internet/social media. Gorgeousness and the epitome of beauty were limited to news stands and certain tv programs/movies. Not perfection. On your device. In your face. Everywhere. All the time. I hate to hear of your struggles, but love that you are working to overcome them, and help others. May you be well and find peace. ?
Social media has certainly made the problem harder for a lot of people, that’s for sure
BDD is something I’ve never heard of, but thanks to you now I have. Its surprising how mental health issues can overlap each other. Im sorry for the racial stuff you experienced in the past. Truly appalling.
Luckily I don’t live in a small all white town anymore
Really well done. This brings up some very interesting and thought-provoking challenges that many people face, and have to face it silently. I hope that this gives confidence to others to talk about their emotions and feel able to move forward. Peace and love.
I hope it does too
Very well said. My heart breaks that you were suicidal at such a young age. Much love to you, and thank you for speaking your truth.
I have anorexia but not BDD; when I was eight I had a horrible norovirus that almost sent me to the emergency room. Since then, I have been afraid to eat a full meal, especially dinner, afraid that i would be sick again. I rarely look in the mirror or weigh myself.
Your fear of eating due to a bad experience sounds a lot like ARFID, which I have a scheduled (10th March) article about this lessor known eating disorer
Really good information in this post. It describes a friend of mine exactly. I didn’t realize how many people it affects.
I am sad to write this but I think many people struggle with their self esteem, and image plays strongly into this issue. (obviously!) I may bop over and take the test to see where I fall. I am sorry to hear about your struggles. Does it help to write about it? You’re very brave. Thank you for sharing!
I think writing and talking about it helped my BDD from getting worse, but it hasn’t gotten any better
This is definitely something I am familiar with and have gin up and down like a roller coaster… whenever I finally feel better about myself, someone would criticize me about something … and I have to fight to ignore it.
It’s a never ending battle because your self-esteem is like a thin piece of glass
OMG I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this and the many people who have too. I can’t imagine having to be afraid of facing a mirror and hating yourself and your body for too long. Body dysmorphia is like a domino, it affects a lot of levels in esteem too. I’m hurt many teenagers are facing this.
Thank you for sharing. Your story is so powerful. I hope it inspires those who have been in your shoes.
Indeed, if you hate the way you look you’ll likely have very bad self-esteem issues
interesting read! thank you for talking about this topic.
Thanks for reading about it
Great post! and incredible blog! Very helpful post! I must say. Simple & interesting. Wonderful work!