Alicia Douvall – an example of society’s misunderstanding of Body Dysmorphia

alicia-douvall

I’ve not watched Celebrity Big Brother this series; but nowadays you don’t really have to to get a feel for what is going on in the house! It is all over the media, and understandably so. This year seems to have introduced one of the most controversial series yet – indeed they appear to be getting more and more complaints with each new series and each new episode!

When asking my friend who was in the house this year, she rattled off a list of washed up Z-listers along with an unapologetic commentary summing up each with very little mercy. She eventually came to ‘a glamour model whose had a shit load of surgery – ugly’. Straight away, I knew who she was referring to. And I actually found myself upset about what she had said.

 

That’s because Alicia Douvall has openly talked about her battle with Body Dysmorphia, a battle which clearly is being won on a daily basis, and not by her. Yet still people are so cruel and judge her only by her apparent ‘stupidity’ and shocking looks – the type of judgemental behaviour which causes many to become overly self-conscious in the first place.

The power of Body Dysmorphia can’t be underestimated. Couple that with enough money and a ‘good reason’ to continue ‘improving yourself’ (in Alicia’s case, her career), then you have a really potent combination.

Despite having spoken at length and even having done a television programme talking about her BD, (albeit not a necessarily informative one which seemed to concentrate more on her not winning the battle than winning it) still she is ridiculed by a society who through no fault of their own really are ignorant and misguided in the way they see her, and others like her.

When I do have the courage to open up and explain to people what having Body Dysmorphia means for me, I’m often met with surprise and disbelief. I’m invariably asked why I feel that way. People’s perception of me changes instantly; whoever they thought I was, they then see somebody who doesn’t see themselves how everybody else sees them and whose actions and behaviours are influenced and fuelled by their need to be approved of, by themselves and by others.

If Alicia Douvall had instead been somebody with a birth defect which had disfigured her face, I’m sure that any negative comment passed on how she looked would have been met with a fairly large amount of disgust and negativity by the British public. But because Alicia’s condition is not something we can see, and appears to be ‘self-inflicted’, she is subject to what can only be described as bullying. Especially poignant as for most of us being bullied is what caused us to develop BD in the first place.

There’s others too – Lauren Goodger, Katie Price, Heidi Montag. All ridiculed, but to someone with BD it’s blindingly obvious that they are actually crippled with insecurity.

Yep, she put herself in CBB, she put herself in the public eye, as all these people do, and in these cases there is of course an element of ‘asking for it’. But what concerns me is public perception as a whole of BD because let’s face it, how many people even know it exists? How often is it mistaken for vanity?

Do you ever come up against stigma or unkind and unwanted criticism relating to your Body Dysmorphia?

Rose xx

 

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Plastic Surgery and Body Dysmorphia – should everyone be screened before having plastic surgery?

When I was 17, I wanted a boob job desperately. I was transfixed on their size and shape, to me they were so terrible that I hated even looking at them in the mirror. I’d constantly compare mine with others, on television, in magazines, in the supermarket or at college. I must have looked crazy staring at other girls’ boobs. Eventually I booked a consultation at a cosmetic surgery clinic in Manchester, against my parents’ wishes. I was planning to use my life savings for the operation, lovingly stowed away for me by them for a deposit on a house, travelling, emergencies. My mum came with me to the clinic, and I allowed her to come into my meeting with the surgeon. To my surprise he asked me if I’d had any mental health problems or eating disorders. At this point I hesitated, and as I considered saying ‘no’, my Mum blurted out that I had. She added that I was on Anti-Depressants and he shook his head at me. “I’m sorry, I can’t perform any sort of cosmetic surgery on you.”

That night I cried uncontrollably; I felt like my world had collapsed. I was so upset for months; then finally with the help of friends and family I started to love myself the way I already was.

Looking back now, I am so glad that the surgeon refused to operate. I’m absolutely happy with my boobs now – I don’t want to change them. In the 4 years since that appointment my body has changed; as I was promised it would by my family. The sales lady was understandably disappointed. This begs the question; is it really acceptable for the Cosmetic Surgery industry to make money out of vulnerable patients? Girls with Body Dysmorphia will never be satisfied. They are pre-disposed to become addicted to treatments and surgeries, striving for an unachievable goal.

Glamour model Alicia Douvall is famed for having surgery time and time again, despite admitting she has Body Dysmorphia and wanting to stop to set a good example to her daughters. This once again shows the grip Body Dysmorphia can have on an individual, over a long period of time, despite the desire to recover for loved ones.

What are your thoughts on this? Should all young applicants for surgery be psychologically vetted before continuing to treatment?

Rose xx

Children and Calories

Following on from one of my first posts about adults adversely affecting the mental health and self-esteem of their children, I wanted to see if anyone else had experienced anything similar at their local gym.

I was in the changing rooms last week, and there were several children in there after their swimming class. A couple were eating cereal bars as they waited for their mum. I couldn’t help overhearing however when the little girl (who was about 6 or 7 years old) sidled up to her mum and said ‘How many calories does this have? Is it 100?’ The little boy joined in, firing random numbers and playing a ‘guess the calorie’ game. And for him it was a game; he was a little younger and didn’t have a full understanding of a calorie. But I could see for the little girl that the calorie content of that cereal bar was very important to her.

This got me thinking – where the hell did someone so young learn about calories? In addition to adopting a negative body image to the point of needing to count them? This really upset me. I was concerned about the unimaginable harm this would be doing psychologically, and at the same time wondering how this had happened.

When I was a child, I had no idea about calories and diets. I only became aware of such things in my third year of secondary school, which was when I developed an Eating Disorder. Before leaving Primary School, I had never been aware of my body image. I was a child; I was more concerned with what I was doing, where I was going, who I was playing with. The fact that I was so severely affected by society’s crippling aesthetic pressure when I was double this little girl’s age makes me worry about her future. Increasingly, girls and boys of younger ages are developing Eating Disorders.

Where do we think this is coming from? Have you heard your children talking about calories? Have they learnt this from school? Or do you make a conscious effort to make them aware of nutritional content in food? Please share your thoughts.

Rose xx

Be Kind

bekind

“All little girls should be told they are pretty; even if they aren’t” – Marilyn Monroe.

Today’s theme is kindness. Kindness not only to others, but also to ourselves. There is another well-known phrase, ‘Be cruel to be kind’. But when it comes to our children, should we adopt this policy? Think about your current hang-ups and anxieties about your appearance. How many of them are borne out of childhood/teen experiences and taunts? These could have been throwaway comments made by relatives, or cruel jibes by peers deliberately designed to make you feel sad or ugly.

Recently I saw an article on ‘Baby Make-up’. The statistics included in this article claimed that up to 60% of parents worry that their child is ‘ugly’. This both concerned and astounded me. Are our own difficulties and obsessions over appearance affecting our children?

More to follow on this topic! What do you think?

Rose xx