Body Dysmorphia Disorder

Building a society that appreciates our images

By Constance Ndeleko

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health problem. If you have BDD, you may be so upset about the appearance of your body that it gets in the way of your ability to live normally. |John Hopkins Medicine|

Body Dysmorphia deepens your focus on your appearance and body image, too much time spent on the mirror distressing about your looks. This repetitive behavior fuels negative thoughts about your looks which ultimately impacts one’s ability to function on their daily lives. One’s thinking might become so negative and persistent even at times entertaining suicide thoughts.

Unfortunately, today most of our teenagers have found themselves cajoled into body “goals standards” associate with a certain social expectation to fit in or be accepted to into the mention body standards.

Roots of body dysmorphia disorder has been linked to be a mishmash of environmental, psychological and biological factors e.g. Bullying or teasing may create or foster the feelings of inadequacy, shame, and fear of ridicule.

Nobody knows the cause of BDD. It usually begins in your adolescence or teenage years. Experts think that about one of every 100 people has BDD. Men and women are equally affected. |John Hopkins Medicine| You can become obsessed with any part of your body. The most common areas are your face, hair, skin, chest, and stomach. Symptoms of BDD include:

  • Constantly checking yourself in the mirror
  • Avoiding mirrors
  • Trying to hide your body part under a hat, scarf, or makeup
  • Constantly exercising or grooming
  • Constantly comparing yourself with others
  • Always asking other people whether you look OK
  • Not believing other people when they say you look fine
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Not going out of the house, especially in the daytime
  • Seeing many healthcare providers about your appearance
  • Having unnecessary plastic surgeries
  • Picking at your skin with fingers or tweezers
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, and ashamed
  • Thinking of suicide

Sometimes people say thing but don’t realize how much of an impact it has on you. Recently, I met a little girl about nine years in the neighborhood. She is one of those jovial, playful and loving child who always says hi. She liked putting on trousers as her peers but she no longer likes them because some adults told her she has a big bum. Currently, she loathes even the thought of anything that tends to show the structure of her body and opts for baggy dresses that will make her go unnoticed. She is hurting from the inside because she is just a child body shamed by adults and now the rest of the children in the estate have the same notion.

In this regards, unknowingly these adults have contributed to this young girls insecurities by invalidating her growth experiences in regards to her features. In such instances most young girls have found themselves obsessing about certain body goals like having a small narrowly shaped nose, slim tone bodies yet curvy to some extent of perfection. These expectations have made not only young girls but most people try fit into the beauty and body goals expectation indulging themselves in; crazy body workouts, plastic surgery, diets eg. Supplements, intermittent fasting or even applying some unapproved cosmetics (skin bleach products) which are detrimental to their wellbeing.

Majorly, this conversation has been wheeled in the social media platforms by some social media influencers or socialites who might also be trying to trap people into buying their products but then they forget the image being displayed to the young ones who mirror our doings.

Often, our self-image is relied on what things other people say about us and I believe most people have body dysmorphia all the time because they have been told they don’t fit the “society standards of beauty.” I mean being health is a no brainer but we need to guide our young one by redefining what these body expectations are and start modeling constructive conversations that will promote acceptance and not build insecurities.

Invalidate and minimize someone’s feelings, self-image has a costly impact on their mental health and they need to invest in therapy to help unlearn these persistent thoughts.  We are all beautiful in our own images.

Key point is what we feed to our children sticks with them even in adulthood. e.g. negative self-image comes from our childhood, society, social media and environment -from words we hear our parents, siblings, family member or friends say to us. In early childhood development stages, the words we tell our children are very important in their formative years as they begin to associate things with feelings and emotions through their cognitive development thus the care giver has to be intentional with the way they communicate with children.

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