"I Hate My Face": Looking At Body Dysmorphic Disorder


Last night, MTV’s True Life focused on BDD, a psychological condition that affects how sufferers perceive their physical features. One woman—Pamela, 26—says her hatred for her face kept from her finishing high school, or ever getting a job.

With no job or higher education, Pamela spends her time shopping and comparing herself to women in celebrity weeklies. Before looking in the mirror, she sprays some kind of moisture on it, to soften the blow of what she claims is her own hideousness. She wears excessive makeup and bindis as a way to distract people from her perceived ugliness. She’s been seeing a psychiatrist for years who merely medicates her, but refuses to go into intensive therapy, because she says, “Therapy is not gonna help me be pretty.”

Financially supported by her mother, Pamela seems to have a shopping addiction, and says that buying things is the only thing that makes her feel better, albeit temporarily. What she really wants is a nose job, which her mother refuses to pay for, because she (wisely) believes that the only thing that Pamela needs to change is the way she feels about herself.

Pamela’s family—particularly her brother—has a hard time understanding her disorder. It’s difficult for them—seeing all of her Chanel and Louis Vuitton shopping bags, and knowing she is not employed—to be empathetic with her plight. I remember the first I ever did mushrooms, I looked in the mirror and became convinced that I was the ugliest person in the world, and was horrified that I’d been walking around all my life without a bag over my head. When I woke up the next day, I realized that I’d just been hallucinating and I was fine. Having BDD must feel like you’re staring in the mirror while on a bad trip 24/7, which sounds like torture.

Eventually, Pamela convinces her boyfriend to take out a loan for her plastic surgery. (Judge Judy would be livid about that!) Against her mother’s wishes, she gets the surgery (and opts for breast implants, as another distraction from her face). Initially, she was elated with her results and felt like she was cured, but two months later, she hated her looks again. She agreed to go into intensive therapy, but only lasted for one day.

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