Hayley's Comments

Introspection on Healing, Vegetarianism, and Life

Hayley Rose

Hayley Rose
HayleysComments.com, Connecticut, TheVeggieStand.com
December 31
I was born when Halley’s Comet last appeared overhead and named accordingly. Since then, I've become a writer, artist, and columnist. In addition to Open Salon, my work appears frequently in The Huffington Post, All Things Healing, Gender Across Borders: A Global Feminist Blog, and several other publications. I blog daily at my site HayleysComments.com I recently published my first book, "I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell." The book is about domestic violence, a topic that I am very vocal about. It chronicles my journey away from tumultuous love affairs by weaving stories of her past with stories from literature, music, and visual art of both modern and classical significance. Find me on Twitter @HRoseStudios


MARCH 14, 2012 4:17PM

Silently Suffering with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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Me, the picture this article is based on

Body dysmorphic disorder or BDD is a mental illness characterized by a skewed perception of the self. People with BDD spend large amounts of time obsessing over and trying to "fix" a physical flaw that they believe they have. Often this flaw is more imagined than real. Take for example, people who become addicted to plastic surgery. No matter how many procedures they get, in their minds, they always fall short of perfection.

I remember watching Dr. 90210, a show about a plastic surgeon and his practice in Beverly Hills, California. Not only did it appear that his wife, who got skinnier and skinnier every episode, had a titch of this disorder, but it also seemed to plague many of his patients. On one episode, a woman who's body was on par with a Victoria's Secret model came into the office for a consultation. She said that her thighs were fat. It was pretty anticlimactic when she revealed her thighs and pointed out the region of imperfection because there was none.

I didn't realize that I too had a bit of this BDD. I always feel fat and bloated. I am still trying to lose "that last twenty pounds." And it wasn't until I saw a recent picture of myself that I realized that I might be suffering from the disorder.

When I talk about wanting to lose twenty more pounds, my family often looks at me like I am crazy. They say things like "where is that twenty pounds gonna come from?" And I roll my eyes, believing that they are clearly lying to me. When I saw a recent picture of myself, I gasped. I could not believe how thin I was. I never would've guessed I was so small, and the realization was shocking. Internet dating again, I had initially put the picture up on my profile because I looked so thin. A few of the guys I had been talking to said that they liked the picture but would prefer some that "showed my curves." I was disgusted by this comment. Were they politely hinting at seeing more revealing pictures of me? Pictures that were possibly if not borderline pornographic? I suspected that was what they were inisinuating until then I looked at my picture a second time. I was head to toe covered. Long jeans. A black t-shirt with a long sleeve black thermal underneath it. If I had thrown some black fabric over my head, you could've easily mistake me for a nun. I gasped at my shrouded appearance. This too was part of the BDD.

Some people with BDD think they are really fat. Like me in that photograph, they wear extremely loose fitting clothing to cover their imperfections. Seeing this picture was certainly a wake up call. However, I often feel that I am bloated and my pants are too tight. It is not only after I eat that I feel that way. A friend pointed out that it is psychological.

When I was in high school, I steadily weighed ten pounds less than I did in this picture, and even then, my mother told me that I was fat. So even at that low weight, every time I looked in the mirror, my brain imprinted the idea that I was fat. So now that I have a body that is ten pounds heavier, I still have a mind that considers my weight minus ten pounds to be overweight.

What I am currently experiencing was obviously not a new struggle with weight and self-perception, but something that started before I was a teenager.  I did receive counseling for it and recall one particularly savvy counselor. She had large sheets of paper on the wall and asked me and the other girls to draw a life-size picture of how big we thought looked. She then had us stand against the drawing. Of course, we were much thinner than we perceived ourselves to be. She said that a study was done in the same fashion and that researchers found on average people with BDD portrayed themselves to be on average 20lbs heavier than they actually were.

The disease itself is characterized by obsession, depression, anxiety, avoidance, shame, alcohol/ drug abuse, perfectionism and troubled relationships. Sufferers of BDD are also plagued with compulsive behaviors attached to the misperception of the self. Some of those compulsions include: constantly looking in the mirror or an inability to look at oneself in the mirror; camouflaging or attempting to camouflage the perceived defect; compulsively touching said defect; self-harm; constant exercise and dieting; and repeated plastic surgery.

It was obvious from my shrouded appearance that I was exhibiting some of these compulsions. In fact, I rarely post pictures of myself on my blog and usually prefer not to call attention to my physical self.

According to Wikipedia, "in research carried out by Dr. Katharine Philips, involving over 500 patients, the percentage of patients concerned with the most common locations were as follows;"

  • Skin (73%)
  • Hair (56%)
  • Weight (55%)
  • Nose (37%)
  • Toes (36%)
  • Abdomen (22%)
  • Breasts/chest/nipples (21%)
  • Eyes (20%)
  • Thighs (20%)
  • Teeth (20%)
  • Legs (overall) (18%)
  • Body build/bone structure (1.5%)
  • Facial features (general) (1.4%)
  • Face size/shape (20%)
  • Lips (12%)
  • Buttocks (12%)
  • Chin (11%)
  • Eyebrows (11%)
  • Hips (11%)
  • Ears (9%)
  • Arms/wrists (9%)
  • Waist (9%)
  • Genitals (8%)
  • Cheeks/cheekbones (8%)
  • Calves (8%)
  • Height (7%)
  • Head size/shape (6%)
  • Forehead (6%)
  • Feet (6%)
  • Hands (6%)
  • Jaw (6%)
  • Mouth (6%)
  • Back (6%)
  • Fingers (5%)
  • Neck (5%)
  • Shoulders (3%)
  • Knees (3%)
  • Ankles (2%)
  • Facial muscles (1%)

  It is my guess that at least 90% of people would have some part of their body that plagues them with BDD. What do you think?

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So interesting. I imagine now that you are aware, you will try to work with yourself on those feelings. You appear to be a healthy young woman and I know you are a talented writer. I guess what I am saying is that we are so much more than how we look. Looks also change, talent usually gets better. Informative post.
A very catching article, well writen. Thank you for sharing
I think a great majority of people have some sort of distorted view of how they look, though probably not to that degree. I'm glad you are recognizing this so that you can overcome.
You are just so cute. If I looked like you I would stop yelling at myself.:)
Shelia- ya it was a real wake up call- shocking to say the least! Thanks Shelia- and I am glad to be among talented writers here on OS ;)

DH You're welcome!

Painting- ya I agree with you- I think we all have at least one flaw that haunts us

Linda- awwwww thanks!!
Who knew? Put me down for a double order of hair, hips & thighs, oh and sides of nose, face shape and calves. Um, put me down for another order of hair. Oh wait, that was back when I used to care. Cancel that order, I got old and realized it never really mattered at all.

Look at you! You really are a lovely woman, you're very pretty too.
Though your condition sounds so painful, I hope it doesn't turn into Anorexia Nervosa. That's really dangerous.

I must suffer some of this, because I tend to avoid mirrors. And I NEVER look at the top of head, because it is bald and shiny. But I don't obsess about appearance or weight. Old age can be merciful that way.

But for the young....enjoy your body while it still works. As the Jewish say, "You still got your health."
OMG is there no end to these kind of ailments? thanks for the info...
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥R
Girl, you are indeed hiding your light under a bushel. If I had your physique I'd be photographed in a bikini as often as possible :() That being said, I do understand about neuroses. I have some of those myself, just different flavors. Nice write!
One more thing...with all do respect, your mother was very wrong to put the notion in your head that you were over weight at such a young age, especially since you clearly were not. Is she still of the same mind?
I am so sorry that you suffer in this way.
I have OCD, and I would suspect that there are som similarities. You checking and worrying about things that are irrational but you can't stop. I suspect this is a brain issue, a physical problem--your issue. You are a brave soul and I understand. Keep fighting it!
I was helped by prozac.
Don't take this wrong but, I don't see anything wrong with you at all. I know that BDD hides that truth from you but at some point you might just want to write it down on a nice chalkboard, "I am a young attractive woman"
Don't be so hard on yourself. You're a beautiful young woman with many talents. Suffering silently will only manifest into something more harmful if you don't stop obsessing about your appearance.

Learn to accept and love yourself, inside and out. Being your own worst enemy is unhealthy. Trust me. I've learned that perception is everything, and when I let my beauty shine from the inside, everything everybody sees is biased because they're using their eyes, not their hearts/minds.
L'Heure- thanks! "I got old and realized it never really mattered at all." nice

Luminous- on another site someone reamed me a new one when they read my thoughts that 90% of people had it (but I strongly feel that we all have it to some degree just perhaps not to the extreme-) Thanks! And "You still got your health." Yes!

Algis- I know, seriously, does it ever end ? lol

Bluestocking babe- ya you're right I gotta stop wearing shrouds everywhere I go- it's getting a little ridiculous - I've been making an effort. So thank-you! And my mother hasn't dared to call me fat inseveral years- she's actually taken to acting concerned that I am too skinny- but I secretly suspect this is a ploy to try to get me to gain weight so I will be "fat" in her eyes

Kathy- ya it has gotten better- at least my issue with weighing myself ten times a day has stopped. I even brought my scale on vacation (which I still do for extended trips) My family members (an anorexic mother and severely obese relatives) harass me for bringing the scale- but I am always happy with the result because I usually am able to eat what I want on vacation and never gain more than 5 lbs...

Bobbot- thanks- after this realization I am seriously working on it- and trying to wear "tighter" clothes out in public without feeling to uncomfortable
Belinda "Being your own worst enemy is unhealthy." so true especially when there are other people who can do this for you whether you like it or not- inner beauty you're right- thank-you :)
[r] Hayley, sorry to get to this so late. it is powerful. once again you are willing to be vulnerable and open to raise the consciousnesses of others. and we both know that intellectual awareness is only part of our recovery of our issues. emotional recovery has got to be coaxed patiently and doggedly. dealing with the fear we know about and the irrational fear so so deep nearly into our God-given hard-wiring. our inner children traumatized so profoundly so early. take care of your precious self, as may we all. best, libby
Thank-you Libby- and thanks for commenting- It was even hard for me to put that pic of me up
fwiw, my friend, you are beautiful and radiant! Inside and out!!!! :)
It's taken me years to get used to my body. At least now I eat for pleasure and for health, knowing in a real way that we are what we eat...literally. According to research for the movie, "King Corn," we are made up of 90% corn molecules. That high fructose corn syrup had to go somewhere!
Ηayley,you are such a beautiful ρerson and I can totally relate since I have sρend most of my life wearing " extremely loose fitting clothing to cover their imperfections"..As a matter of fact I still do..Thank you for sharing this and i think that you are your solution..Just Be beautiful...Just be you..Why be something else..;Βest regards..
TY Libby! XO

C Berg- Nice! Diets are absolutely forbidden in my life- which is probably both a good and a bad thing...

STATHI- Thank-you and thank-you for sharing- maybe we can slowly graduate to more fitted clothing? It is getting warmer so our options are narrowing :)