Written By Pratichi Satpathy (Grade 7)
Michael Jackson. The most awarded individual music artist in history. The King of Pop. You’d be lying through your teeth if you told me you didn’t know him and his music. But did you know that Michael Jackson, a man who radiates success and beauty, did not like his own body? Yes. He would put himself through multiple cosmetic procedures to change his facial structure and later denied having any plastic surgery.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition in which the victims cannot stop obsessively thinking about one or more ‘flaws’ in their appearance, so much so, that it stops them from doing their day-to-day activities. BDD is estimated to affect from 0.7% to 2.4% of the world population and affects males and females equally. It is said to start in adolescence. Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia include – being preoccupied with your appearance at all times, a strong belief that your body is defective due to a certain feature, belief that people are mocking you and take special notice of your flaws, and attempting cosmetic procedures to change the perceived flaw and trying to cover it up, avoiding mirrors or constantly looking into mirrors, frequently seeking reassurance from others about appearance and avoiding social situations.
There is no certain cause of BDD, but sometimes, having a relative with BDD or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder); negative childhood experiences like bullying and teasing; traits like perfectionism; having other mental health issues like depression and anxiety increases the chances of you having it.
Society and social media go hand in hand when it comes to setting unrealistic beauty standards. Girls are told to eat less and become skinny, and when they do so, they are told that they are ugly because of not having curves. Boys are set on an image of hyper-masculinity and of course, when they respond negatively, they are called ‘unmanly’ and ‘whiney’.
This leads to us teens spending a lot of time thinking about our bodies and trying to find ways to change it. They pick at the flaw, hide it with articles of clothing, and use a ton of makeup for the same purposes. They feel like everyone has their eyes peeled to look out for the perceived flaw, and this gives them anxiety. These teens grow up to hate their bodies with a fierce passion, they grow up to want cosmetic surgery and they grow up only to want to end it all.
Most people seem to fixate on facial features like eyes, nose, lips, freckles, and moles; weight, like being skinny or fat; hair, such as baldness, greying, hair loss; muscle size and skin tone, however, experiences vary from person to person.
There is no medication that can ‘cure’ BDD, and the only solution is regular therapy sessions with a trained medical professional to help victims feel better mentally. However, parents and caregivers should encourage children to look beyond their bodies. We should be told from a young age that we are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be real, and that beauty lies within. We should accept our flaws as a part of our beauty. Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing – what we think about ourselves is what we see!
It really hurts to see that people as young as me and my peers hate our beautiful, lovely, caring body that does so much for us, over minor, unnoticeable flaws, that we only know exist, because some random person pointed them out to us.
To you, a comment about someone else’s body may be a simple joke, but to them, it may mean the world, and change the way they see themselves in the mirror. So please, think before you speak!
Featured Image Courtesy – Dr Kapil Sharma