The Silent Struggle: Body Dysmorphic Disorder and the Harms of Body Shaming

By Layla Baboli

In a world increasingly obsessed with appearances, the quiet struggles faced by individuals dealing with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and the impact of body shaming are frequently disregarded. Body dysmorphic disorder, characterised by the thoughts and behaviours related to recognising flaws in physical appearance, affects individuals of all ages and backgrounds. The nature of this condition coupled with the toxic culture of body shaming creates an environment where self-worth is measured by unrealistic beauty standards.

Body dysmorphic disorder goes beyond mere dissatisfaction with one’s appearance; it’s a serious mental health condition that changes one’s perception of themselves and causes severe distress. Those with BDD become fixated on their flaws, whether real or imagined, often spending hours looking themselves in mirrors or seeking reassurance from others. This constant concentration can lead to anxiety or depression.

Body shaming, driven by societal expectations and reinforced through social media and personal interactions, increases the challenges faced by individuals with BDD and maintains harmful stereotypes. Whether it is done through hurtful remarks or the glorification of unrealistic beauty ideals and impossible body standards, body shaming reinforces feelings of imperfection and creates a continuous cycle of self-hatred.

I created a google forms asking students whether they have experienced body shaming or if they may have made another person feel uncomfortable about their own body image and these were the results:

Have you ever felt that a comment that you received from someone else made you feel self conscious about you physical appearance?

Yes – 45.8%

No – 12.5%

At the time I was uncomfortable but forgot about it later – 33.3%

I don’t know – 8.3%

Have you said something that may have made another person uncomfortable with their body or appearance?

Yes – 16.7%

No – 25%

I am unsure – 50%

I hope not – 8.4%

Average: 48% said a person has made a negative comment , 33.3% are unsure and 18.7% were no negative statements 

Having seen these results, it is clear that the majority of people have experienced a harmful comment or have made an uncomfortable statement about a person’s appearance. This demonstrates how body shaming is quite common which is unhealthy for a person’s mental health and should not be that ordinary or normal.

In a world where beauty standards can feel impossible and pressure is everywhere, it’s important to recognise how body dysmorphic disorder and body shaming negatively impact people’s lives.

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