Body Dysmorphic Disorder- A Deadly Disease


Ashlyn Kuehn

Although bullying seems harsh, TV shows such as “Family Guy” make fun of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). In Episode 17, Season 11, Stewie, the smallest child of the cartoon family,  lays dying, along with another patient, from anorexia. With the ongoing beeps of the heart monitor in the background, Stewie turns to the other patient and states, “You look fat.” Although this may seem like a harmless joke, this small clip has been seen by millions, even those who suffer from the disease. In today’s ever growing population there is a need to promote the knowledge of BDD.

This is a serious mental disease, making people hate their own appearance. Many cases of this mental disease have been noted all around the world, an estimated 7.5 million people have or are suffering from this disease that thrives within their mind. Many people who suffer from this disease find fault within themselves, ranging anywhere from disliking their skin color to hating their entire body. Although this disease is painful to have, many are unaware that it exist, and this needs to be changed.

Trinity Zajicek, a freshman at Arvada West, also suffers from this hidden disease. “I like using makeup to hide behind, especially because I am always worried about what others are saying about me.Although BDD is often associated with young females such as Zajicek, males suffer from it too, loathing  their stomachs, facial features, muscles size, genitalia size, breast size, and even their hair. “I go through a lot of clothes in the morning,” Zajicek states. “I’m always trying to find something that covers me well.”

“I go through a lot of clothes in the morning, I’m always trying to find something that covers me well.””

— Trinity Zajicek

Although others may find the afflicted person’s  features alluring, to those afflicted, they seem to be deformed. While having these flawed images in their heads, living a normal life can become difficult to almost impossible. Most people who suffer from BDD choose to stay away from social activities, having their picture taken, or participating in any events that may show off their figure such as swimming. Many victims endure an eating disorder also, in an attempt to limit their weight. These side effects ranging from BDD is ignorable to the victim it overtakes,  but to others it seems to be completely invisible. If others took the time to study the disease, people who suffer from BDD would be noticed more in today’s society.

Since this disease does affect millions of people, many would think there would be a medication, but they are wrong. Although the people who suffer from BDD can seek a physician’s help and take medication intended for depression and anxiety, it doesn’t end the ongoing negative thoughts concerning self-image. Even some, such as Michael Jackson, have gone through extensive cosmetic surgeries trying to fix their ‘strange’ features. Katharine A. Phillips, the author of “The Broken Mirror,” wrote that “…after surgery nearly one quarter of patients were even more preoccupied with the perceived appearance concerns,” explaining why some people, including Jackson, were unsatisfied with only one surgery.

As BDD usually develops around age 7-20, bullying can be a primary cause of why that is happening. Deanna James, author of the website, describes that BDD originating from bullying could be changed. Especially with BDD and bullying on the rise, the common knowledge of BDD would help victims get over the harassment, and later on help seek further help. Common knowledge could change whole account of bullying, but most are too ignorant to even acknowledge widespread diseases.  

“The relationship between bullying and BDD is one which can be prevented through education and treatment.””

— Deanna James

Even some of the organizations that people look up to, such as Disney have encouraged eating disorders by over accentuating body features such as  slim waists. Demi Lavato, a childhood Disney star, stated in a Tweet that “the [Disney] actresses keep getting thinner and thinner.”  Lovato also posted several more tweets, referring to a woman playing a supermodel on Shake It Up, a Disney series, whose line was: “I could just eat you up, well, if I ate,” referring to anorexia. Even with the recorded multiple accounts of BDD all over the world, it seems that even major childhood influences can take such a dreadful disease for humor.  

A mobile app called Whisper allows people to make anonymous quotes to share on the Internet. There have been countless numbers of people secretly sharing their thoughts and personal stories about BDD. These posts range anywhere from overcoming their fear of wearing swimsuits to eventually wanting to commit suicide to get away from the mental disease. One account by the name of Rider_Paladin stated that his experience with this horrific battle eventually made it so he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror. Each small story adds to a bigger picture, one that should be known, talked about, and treated.

Even with the numerous reports of BDD on the rise, most still tend to not recognize the disease, as most do mental disorders. As this is the case, TV channels such as Disney have a large impact of what they can air to the public. If they included a variety of body types and acknowledged BDD, they could provide many patients with a little help with a diverse perception on how they feel they should look. BDD should be known, but without the help of others, it could stay hidden in the shadows of secrecy.

For further information on BDD visit