DYSMORPHIA NEEDS A POSTER GIRL!
(Let’s ignore the irony).
I am submitting my blog as an application for the imaginary title of Body Dysmorphic Disorder Poster Girl. Now where did I stash my *pom-poms*?
What more could I possibly want?
The situation above illustrates the problems with Body Dysmorphic Disorder very well. What more could I want? I could (and did) want my roots done, my fake tan done, my nails done and my weight to be on target before sliding into some new Agent Provocateur and standing in front of a camera. I know this makes me sound like a diva but I believe there is a distinction between a diva and someone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Or is there? Perhaps all those women and men in the past that have been labelled as divas were really suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder without the benefit of the diagnosis. Somehow I don’t think that really is the case. Generally, a diva will have some sort of career success that allowed him or her to climb to a position where they believed they had earned the right to request or even demand certain things. A patient with Body Dysmorphic Disorder will generally have spent a lifetime immobilized by the disorder and with very little to show in the way of career highlights or success.
On the day I was contacted, I was in a ‘holding pattern’ with my highlights! I had not made the appointment to have the roots done although they were screaming to be done from the top of my head! That was last week. What a difference a day can make because the very next day after the shoot would have taken place, Saturday, I had my roots done. Had I been contacted today (5 days later) my roots would have been done and I would have been more equipped to face a camera with a smile. As my life is spent behind a screen, it does not seem to be as crucial as it once was to stay on top of the roots as stringently as I once did. If I was a regular in the media and an approved Poster Girl for Body Dysmorphic Disorder with a decent income, I would be photo-ready at all times! After all, grooming rituals are so much a part of Body Dysmorphic Disorder that it is a match made in heaven. However, it should be said that not all Body Dysmorpic Disorder patients go overboard on the grooming rituals, some avoid them entirely. There is a spectrum and I am pro grooming ritual!
Provided I am properly groomed - my highlights and roots are done, my nails are done, my botox is topped up, my weight is at target and my fake tan is all topped up - I am good to go! I will wear my underwear or bikini for a ‘shoot’ and let the world know about my website and how it can help others as well as my own personal struggles with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Perhaps that reflects how far I have come with this life-long disorder or perhaps it is misleading the public to think that Body Dysmorphic Disorder is something that can be trivialized. Either way, Body Dysmorphic Disorder requires a Poster Girlsomeone who others can relate to.
Part of me is grateful that the media are paying attention to what is, for many, a life-time disorder but I wonder what the goals of this are? Do the media wish to help persuade others into believing that a glamorous photo in underwear/bikini shows someone who is cured? If I were the poster girl for this campaign, I would help to reflect the middle ground of Body Dysmorphic Disorder by helping others to find my website which is a safe haven for people to discuss their issues surrounding cosmetic surgery and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. A photo of a woman (or man) looking fabulous in their underwear or bikini does not equal the sight of someone who is cured from body dysmorphic disorder. As a poster child, I would like to make it clear that people who suffer with body dysmorphic disorder learn coping skills and how to live with the disorder but do not necessarily find themselves cured.
The newspaper was actually offering me money for the shoot! Heaven knows I need the money to plough back into the site and the site needs some major advertising in order to promote patient support and information (www.cosmeticsupport.com). My Macbook Pro is now about six years old and needs its screen replaced and to be honest, needs to be replaced by a newer, faster MBPro. It is old and splutters its way through its daily tasks. There is a donation button on the site if anyone feels generous!
I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for me for clothes (let alone shoes and bags and accessories). Shopping consoles me even though it activates my disorder by bringing out the perfectionist in me, subjecting me to those familiar feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, isolation and unhappiness. Finding the right clothes (shoes, bags, make up, etc) often feels like mission impossible and another lesson in compromise with a capital C. A good day is when I feel I look good enough but those days do not happen every day. I have learned some coping skills and they work some of the time. Those coping skills work so much better when I am relating to others in a supportive way via my website.
The UK used to be known as the country with the worst teeth in the world. It feels like a dinosaur of a collective unconscious along with scientific breakthroughs in beauty technology have woken up together to realize that their standards of grooming habits can be raised and that the benefits of so doing promises greater happiness. Is there a problem with this idea? Some advertisers were quick to take up the exploitation of this idea and recently (BAAPS) cosmetic surgeons have called for a halt to this type of exploitation. As with any new goal, there will be adjustments to be made along the way and a collective consciousness waking up to new grooming rituals will be no different. It is not surprising that the media have misinterpreted these teething problems (excuse the pun) for Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It is not just over-sell or misrepresentation that is in question over the changes in advertising cosmetic surgery, it is politics too. However, in all the upheaval of change, Body Dysmorphic Disorder seems to be at the mercy of ever-changing definitions. The exploitation of cosmetic surgery through advertising has certainly led to body image worries and blues, but did it really create new cases of Body Dysmorphic Disorder? It seems like the baby has been chucked into some deep bathwater here and can only be saved by the Body Dysmorphic Poster Girl! Vote here - leave a comment!