Do you obsessively check yourself over 50 times a day, off of any reflective surface you can find? Do you nitpick every minor — real or imaginary “flaw” and take extreme measures to get rid of them? Does this interfere with your social life? Since this is what body dysmorphia may look like. 

While most of us are bothered by physical imperfections, people with body dysmorphia take hours scrutinizing every curve, stretch mark, or some other body feature that doesn’t just “bother” them but impacts their social behaviour, productivity and mental health

What are the symptoms?

Some of the common symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) are:

  • Being extremely troubled with a perceived flaw that is usually unnoticeable to others or is considered minor.
  • Taking extreme measures to hide or “fix” a body feature with makeup or clothing.
  • Repeatedly checking yourself off of any reflective surface, nitpicking or grooming constantly.
  • Continually seeking reassurance from others with regards to your appearance.
  • Avoiding social situations to keep the “flaw” or symptomatic behaviour a secret.

The reality of people with BDD

BDD is seen in various shapes and sizes. It can look like someone who is severely overweight, underweight or someone who goes through extreme diets or maybe even eating disorders. Sometimes, it can look like someone who has a perfectly healthy BMI and looks happy from the outside, using this to mask their fears and insecurities. The constant worrying about their appearance often manifests itself in daily occurrences. In the work scenario, one might refrain from raising a point or voicing their opinion in a meeting to avoid any attention as it may leave them vulnerable to judgement.

The obsession with how one looks can adversely affect their emotional well-being, be it them either trying to deal with it or denying it. 

The role of Social Media

Social media is a trigger for worsening the already intense symptoms of this disorder. Even those without BDD compare their bodies to the unreal airbrushed ones online, that are fed to the masses, leading to a scramble of insecurity for all of us. Imagine the impact this would have on someone with body dysmorphia. Seeing heavily edited images of flawless bodies would not just lead to comparing themselves to society’s unrealistic beauty ideals but would also make them reassess how they look for days at a time subsequently, adding wood to the fire. 

Gender Dysphoria and Body Dysmorphia

While talking about this disorder it is important to provide the trans and non-binary narrative too. Most trans and enby folks have a complicated relationship with their bodies. Body dysmorphia is often a precursor to gender identity issues or gender dysphoria because their gender identity doesn’t line up with their bodies. A lot of trans and enby folk describe their dysphoria as trapped inside their bodies. While the dysphoria regarding one’s body is related to gender, dysmorphia is about size, shape and control. Many trans men and enby folks tend to bind their chest too tightly and wear it for long hours because of the severity of both, body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria. PleIt is advised to consult a doctor if the disorder reaches this point. 


This is a type of body dysmorphic disorder that occurs primarily in men, especially bodybuilders, athletes and wrestlers. Bigorexia is when one is constantly preoccupied with the idea of their body being too small or not muscular enough. This causes them to be so obsessed with muscle development that they miss important events or continue working out even with severe pain or broken bones. This is increasingly affecting thousands of men. One of the major factors could be the pressure social media and society put on men to conform to an ideal body shape that is muscular and big, in the same way, that women have been pressured to have a curvy body and a thin waist. 

Even celebrities like Billie Eilish, Lana Condor and Robert Pattinson have described their experiences with body dysmorphia to let you know that you are not alone. This proves that the feeling of inadequacy is only an illusion. 

What can you do?

As a friend, parent or lover of someone with this disorder, here are some things you can do:

  • Check up on them frequently.
  • Ease them into a conversation while introducing them to new people.
  • Avoid using physically specific body comments.
  • Do not mock or minimize their feelings.
  • Celebrate small steps they are taking to get better.
  • Try to understand their feelings.
  • Raise awareness about BDD.
  • Encourage therapy or support groups.

BDD or not, please remember that you are more than your insecurities. You are enough. You are loved.