Overcoming Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Every day, women are bombarded with images of what society accepts as beautiful. If a woman doesn’t have the flawless, freckle-less skin of a Photoshopped magazine model or the figure of a supermodel, she may feel unattractive or worse.
The problem is, if you don’t learn to like what you see in the mirror, your appearance may become an unhealthy obsession.
What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Women develop Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD, when they become so caught up with what they see as flaws that it causes anxiety, distress, or even a handicap. The reflection they see in the mirror becomes distorted. Women with BDD usually have low self-esteem and judge themselves exclusively on their looks. Often, they become preoccupied with one or more features that they want to change. In many cases, they refuse to settle for anything less than perfection and pay thousands of dollars to alter their appearance via plastic surgery. Some may develop eating disorders. Meanwhile, other people don’t even notice the so-called flaw or don’t see it as a problem.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Generally, women who constantly compare themselves to others are never satisfied with their own appearance. Learn to love your own lovely features, which someone else may envy.
Some women live their entire life thinking they are ugly because they were teased as a child. If they believe what those bullies said, the message becomes even more embedded and destroys their self-esteem. Positive self-talk can help overcome this.
Replace Negative Internal Dialogue with Positive Reinforcement
To overcome BDD and increase your self-esteem, you have to replace those childhood taunts and your own critical analysis with a new image. When you tell yourself that your nose is too big, that your thighs are fat, or that you need to be super thin to be beautiful, you’re setting yourself up for feelings of inadequacy. Instead of nitpicking everything you believe is wrong with you, find something about yourself that you like—your eyes, your hair, your buttocks, or your smile. Anytime a negative thought pops into your head, counter it with, “I have great abs”, or whatever your favorite attribute may be. Focus on the positive.
Realize Your Appearance Isn’t Everything
In case you haven’t noticed by now, people come in a wide variety of shapes, heights, sizes, and hair colors. Determine what makes you unique and own it, but remember: you are not just how you look. Each person has a personality, talents, and quirks that make them attractive to other people. Not everyone bases attractiveness on appearance alone. If you do – and if you continue to focus on your appearance rather than the world around you – then you’ll miss out on a lot, including relationships with people who love you for you and not your outward appearance.
Take some time to list your good qualities: your sense of humor, your generosity, your intelligence, and so on. When you love yourself and feel confident, you radiate beauty from the inside. Once you realize this fact, it is more likely that people will find you attractive than if you continue to obsess over fixing what you believe is wrong with your body or your face.
If you believe you have BDD and struggle with anxiety because of your appearance, you may need professional help to get started on rebuilding your self-esteem, so you can find the beauty you have to offer.