Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a condition in which one has an obsessive preoccupation with his or her physical appearance. We recently posted two articles about the condition, one on BDD in the media, and the other on BDD in teenagers. In the final installment of our three part series, we look at recent research related to this condition.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder and How We See Ourselves
This past year saw a number of interesting research studies on the topic of body image and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). One study surveyed over 2200 men and women of various body types regarding their self-perceptions related to weight and body image. Those who completed the survey were evaluated for their body-mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight that provides a range of numerical values for what could be described as a “healthy weight”. Participants were also instructed to describe how they perceived their bodies, using a range of terms such as “slim” and “fat”.
The study found that only 13% of the women participants who were evaluated as having a “healthy” weight for their height (BMI) were satisfied with their overall appearance. More disturbing was the finding that only 6% of these women saw themselves as being “slim”. Conversely, only 6% of the male participants who were evaluated as having a healthy BMI saw themselves as “fat”. Furthermore, of the study participants who were actually overweight, twice as many women as men described themselves as being “ashamed” of their bodies. The most obvious conclusion we can draw from these data is that men and women see themselves in startlingly different ways, and have very different emotional reactions to their weight.