Door Kristen Rogers, CNN
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Actress Megan Fox, a cover star of the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, who has longconsidered a sex symbol, telsaid she's in itO5 million to 10 millionpeople in the United States affected by body dysmorphia.
“I never see myself the way other people see me. There's never been a point in my life where I loved my body, ever," Fox said in a video.interview with Sports Illustrated. "When I was little it was an obsession I had, like, 'But I'm supposed to look like this.' And why I was so aware of my body at such a young age I'm not sure."
A discrepancy between how someone perceives themselves and how others see them is a hallmark symptom of body dysmorphia. Also known as body dysmorphic disorder, it is "characterized by excessive preoccupation with an imagined defect in physical appearance or markedly excessive preoccupation with a slight physical abnormality," according to theAmerican Psychological Association.
What people actually look like - or how attractive they are - often has little to do with it.
"If that person had a very visible scar or some other physically noticeable deformity, then we're not talking about that," says Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and author based inCalifornia.
“The individual becomes preoccupied, almost obsessive, with a small physical feature. It could be a little blemish, a little bump on the nose, a slightly misaligned tooth, the shape of something, but it wouldn't be noticeable to other people," he added. "It's never good enough. … And it is basically going to take over their lives.
Around2% of the world's populationhave body dysmorphia, and the condition affects men and women almost equally, according to theAnxiety and Depression Association of America. Symptoms usually begin to appearin adolescence, when bodies begin to change dramatically.
There is a sub-form of body dysmorphia:muscle dysmorphia,which mainly affects men, is characterized by a preoccupation with the perception that the body is not slim or muscular enough - often regardless of how muscular a person is.
See what it's like to live with body dysmorphia and how people can find help.
What body dysmorphia is not
Body dysmorphia is often confused with an eating disorder, but it's not because of a few differences, according to Durvasula and Ann Kearney-Cooke, a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in eating and body image disorders.
People with eating disorders worry about a disruption in how they perceive their shape or weight, Durvasula said. "The person engages in behaviors (disordered eating) and also what we call compensatory behaviors, which can be things like not eating for periods of time, hyper-exercising, using diuretics or laxatives, things like that."
However, body dysmorphia usually revolves around an imaginary or real trait, experts say.
What causes body dysmorphia
There is no single cause of body dysmorphia, but there are some contributing factors.
"Body dysmorphia is in the same family of disorders as obsessive-compulsive disorder," Durvasula said. "The only genetic evidence we see is that if a person has a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with OCD, they are more likely to develop body dysmorphia."
Researchers have suggested that the brains of some people with body dysmorphia may "show abnormalities in processing visual information when it comes to examining their own faces," according toa 2010 study.
Body dysmorphia sometimes co-occurs with anxiety. If someone is worried about certain things because of anxiety, a body feature might be another issue to focus on, Durvasula added.
“Social media certainly didn't help with that. There's a lot more social comparison to what other people look like. A lot of people post fake photos," Durvasula said. "By adolescence, that form of assessment — looks, fit, and all that — will be much more pronounced."
Having family members who evaluate, validate or love themselves or others based on appearance may also play a role, she added.
"It makes people overly sensitive to [noticing] flaws in their appearance," Kearney-Cooke added. “And what often happens is that somewhere deep down, whether it's because of a troubled childhood or whatever, they feel like, 'I'm not enough. I'm not attractive. And then they project that into their body.
A perfectionist mindset reinforces this view, she added.
Living with body dysmorphia
The effects of body dysmorphia can extend to all aspects of life - social, occupational and financial - especially if the condition worsens over time without treatment.
"Because they are so obsessed with these kinds of feelings that this physical problem exists, they spend a significant amount of time and money on cosmetic medical treatments or cosmetic dental treatments, dermatological treatments and even surgical treatments," Durvasula said.
People with body dysmorphia also exhibit "check-in" behaviors, where they seem to spend a lot of time looking in the mirror and taking countless selfies and evaluating them, Durvasula added.
Looking in the mirror compulsively may alleviate people's anxiety about their appearance or help them see if a perceived flaw is still there or has worsened, the study said.National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders. They think the feature is abnormal or ugly. Body dysmorphia was originally described as "the syndrome of imagined ugliness," Kearney-Cooke said.
Someone with the disorder may also seek reassurance from others, asking if they see the mistake, if a feature looks right, or if there is something wrong or different about the feature.
People with body dysmorphia may self-isolate out of shame or spend too much time worrying about their appearance, experts say. They may also deplete their social support by constantly seeking safety, Durvasula added.
Spending so much time analyzing your appearance can lead to you being late for work or failing your schoolwork, she said. Some people are taking a financial risk by buying cosmetic products or procedures – going into debt for themselves or their families, and sometimes secretly because they're worried about what might happen if people found out.
Kearney-Cooke had a patient so obsessed with a perceived flaw in her nose that she always looked in the mirror, even while driving, the psychologist said. Crashing the car into a tree in the process was a wake-up call for the patient, she noted, leading to treatment and eventually some improvement.
Getting treatment for body dysmorphia
Body dysmorphia has no cure and is a "difficult clinical condition" to treat because "it's a very resistant pattern to change," Durvasula said. But some effective treatments are available.
A preference of many experts is cognitive behavioral therapy. A person's distortions or thoughts are believed to drive these behaviors, so therapists work on the person's distortions and go from there, Durvasula said. Because body dysmorphia falls into the same category as obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatments for OCD such as "exposure and response prevention" can also be helpful in managing body dysmorphia. In a safe environment,this therapy exposespeople to situations that provoke their obsessions or triggers and compel them to choose not to respond with compulsive behaviors.
When undergoing this treatment, a person with body dysmorphia may not be able to look in the mirror or take selfies much, Durvasula said. “They really need to accept the discomfort of the non-controlling behavior. But this needs to be complemented by cognitive-behavioral work.”
A history of trauma also requires trauma-informed therapy, which requires a mental health professional to recognize how the person's trauma may be the cause of the body dysmorphia.
"Some therapies can also be very educational — about the images we see in the world and how unrealistic they are," Durvasula said.
Researchers have been investigating brain chemicals such as serotonin, which is also a cause of body dysmorphia, Kearney-Cooke said — so antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may also be helpful in treatment.
If you can't find a mental health professional who specializes in body dysmorphia, try working with someone who has experience with OCD or eating disorders, Durvasula said.
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FAQsDoes Megan Fox have anxiety? ›
Megan replied: "Yeah, I have body dysmorphia. I have a lot of deep insecurities." She didn't go into any more detail about her battle, but the NHS explains that body dysmorphic disorder is "a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about the flaws in their appearance.What is Megan Fox diet? ›
Fox avoids processed food, dairy, refined sugar, and hydrogenated oils. Her go-to source of carbs is fruits and vegetables. She relies on egg whites, salmon, chicken breast, and protein shakes for her daily protein requirements. To stay healthy, Fox has a diet rich in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.Does Megan Fox see her kids? ›
“Megan, 36, and Brian, 49, currently share joint custody of their children, but sources say the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum has been spending more time with the boys and especially enjoys seeing them bond with his 5-month-old son, Zane, by his current squeeze, Dancing With The Stars professional Sharna Burgess, 37,” the ...Is Dysmorphia a mental illness? ›
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others. People of any age can have BDD, but it's most common in teenagers and young adults.Why does Megan Fox always wear her hair down? ›
In the caption, she explained: "I never wear my hair up because my head is the size of a tiny edamame bean but this happened and we're all okay. Baby steps".Does Megan Fox have insecurities? ›
This is not the first time Fox has discussed her body issues. In a joint interview with Machine Gun Kelly in 2021, she acknowledged having a “lot of deep insecurities”.Does Megan Fox eat eggs? ›
Megan kicks off her day with a well-rounded breakfast: egg whites, almonds, and oatmeal.Was Megan Fox A vegan? ›
Fox embraced veganism when she followed a diet based on raw fruits and vegetables in 2011. The diet also had her cut down “bread, sugar, and coffee,” which had her lose too much weight and so she resumed to include other elements in her diet.How many pounds does Megan Fox weigh? ›
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters- 163 cm in meters- 1.63 m in feet & inches- 5' 4”|
|Weight (approx.)||in kilograms- 52 kg in pounds- 114 lbs|
|Figure Measurements (approx.)||34-22-32|
Megan Fox has her hands full as a mom of three boys: sons Noah, Bodhi and Journey.How old are Megan Foxes kids? ›
Megan shares three children – 10-year-old Noah, nine-year-old Bodhi and six-year-old Journey – with her ex-husband, Brian Austin Green.What is the age difference between Megan Fox and? ›
How old is Megan Fox? Fox turned 36 in May 2022, while MGK celebrated his 32st birthday the month before. This four-year age difference seems to be a big problem for some people, according to Fox, who's said that the "patriarchy" tries to apply sexist double standards to their steamy relationship.What are the 2 types of dysmorphia? ›
There are two subtypes of BDD: Muscle Dysmorphia and BDD by Proxy.What triggers body dysmorphia? ›
Going through traumatic experiences such as abuse or bullying can cause you to develop a negative self-image, which can lead you to have obsessions about your appearance.What a person with body dysmorphia sees? ›
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Megan Fox is a popular American actress with a minimalist approach to her beauty regime. She swears by her weekly oxygen facials and staying properly hydrated to achieve her glowing skin. She loves experimenting with the color red for her makeup and is often found sporting red lips.Does Megan Fox have scars? ›
If you've gone through your teenage years, you can certainly relate to acne trouble. It is a skin issue that almost everyone experiences at some stage in life, most often adolescence. If left untreated, acne can cause scarring which needs to be treated.Why does Megan Fox not smile? ›
In fact rumors have it that Megan Fox wasn't the most pleasant person to work with during the filming of the Transformers series. Fox was on The Today Show talking about her insecurities and that is perhaps why she doesn't often flash those pearly whites.What personality type was Megan? ›
Meghan Markle is an ENFJ personality type. Thoughtful and idealistic, she strives to support people and help them reach their potential.
Megan Fox is an ISTP personality type. She is practical and loves understanding how things work. Valuing a sense of freedom, she can't stand feeling controlled. She is able to process large amounts of information at once and she has an exceptional memory for details.Does Megan Fox have dysmorphia? ›
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Michael J. Fox, iconic actor, author and advocate whose Hollywood career has been marked by worldwide acclaim, honor and awards, launched the Foundation in 2000 after publicly disclosing his 1991 diagnosis, at age 29, with Parkinson's disease. Michael Andrew Fox was born in 1961 in Alberta, Canada.What causes parkinsons? ›
Parkinson's disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine.What meds does Michael J. Fox take? ›
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