Body Dysmorphic Disorder in a social media obsessed world

Why do we feel the need to present an image of perfection to the world? Annelies Keus discusses the 'disease of our generation', all fueled by technology, and what the realities of a healthy lifestyle may actually look like.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance.

Mental disorders are something we don’t usually speak about. Many of us chose to keep our insecurities and fears far away from the public; but do we ever think about what is going on behind all those perfect Instagram profiles? What happens when the cameras are turned off? Social pressure and feeling like you must meet a certain standard has a proven record of pushing people to insanity. The tragic stories of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse and rock star Kurt Cobain, are just a few that come to mind.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with imaginary defects in their appearance. Suffering from BDD goes beyond a mere dissatisfaction with one's physique. Although it’s their physical unattractiveness that haunts them, moral characteristics are also part of the disturbed images. Often causing severe emotional distress and difficulties in daily life.

Dealing with this mental disorder since my early teens, I know what an impact physical obsessions have on your day to day life. Social media is one of the biggest triggers to fall back into old routines. Trying to make peace with the picture that you see, is a big part of a distorted view of how the world sees you. There’s an increasing feeling of desperation and you just can’t reach that point where you think: ‘this is good enough’.

It’s no secret that social media puts a lot of pressure on our appearance, on how we want the world to see us and how we see ourselves. What started as a way to share holiday pictures with your friends has become a culture of fake reality and an obsessive desire for attention. It is a nasty habit, fed by the need of other people’s approval and their opinion of what perfection looks like.

Aspiring to a way of life that is unreachable for most people, seems to be a trend which is created by envy. The perfect nose, flawless skin, full lips and an excessively toned body is just the beginning. Besides that, you also need expensive clothes, to travel the world flying business class, have a respectable job and only eat healthy food at the most prestige restaurants with the perfect tall, tanned and handsome boyfriend at your side.

Aiming for perfection in every aspect of your life will almost certainly result in being chronically unhappy. Perfection seems to be the disease of this generation, overwhelmed by technology. We live our lives through the lens of our electronic devices, Photoshop apps and social media channels. We always try to fix something, but unfortunately, heartache cannot be fixed with a filter.

Let’s make sure we look around us every once in a while, to see the beautiful world we live in with our own two eyes.