Kim Kardashian Says She 'Like Literally' Has Body Dysmorphia
Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Haley Quinn, The Mighty’s mental health staff member, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.
In a recent episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” Kim Kardashian West revealed she had anxiety after being photographed from an unflattering angle, and that she might be struggling with body dysmorphia. She doesn’t explain whether or not she actually has the disorder, but says, “You take pictures and people just body shame you… It’s like literally giving me body dysmorphia.”
Although we don’t want to discount Kim’s struggles, it’s important we don’t confuse struggling with your body image after seeing an “unflattering” photograph with having body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Just like people sometimes say they’re “depressed” when they’ve actually just had a bad day, or say they “want to kill themselves” because they’ve done something embarrassing (or like the time Khloe Kardashian made a KHLO-C-D: Cookie Jar video), it can be easy for people to confuse body dysmorphic disorder with a bad body image day or having an insecurity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, those who experience body dysmorphic disorder become extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that may be unrealistic — and that may not even be perceivable by others. Those struggling might focus on things like acne, complexion, blemishes, facial or body hair, breast size, vein appearance or muscle size — not just body shape or size in general, as commonly understood. As Mighty contributor Rachel Grawlewski, who struggles with body dysmorphic disorder, wrote, “BDD goes deeper than feeling self-conscious.”
Additionally, those struggling with BDD may believe that others take special notice of their appearance in a negative or mocking way. Rachel states that, “Whenever I am speaking with someone, I keep telling myself they are staring at my flaws and must be thinking to themselves how they are disgusted by me.”
These preoccupations can lead people who struggle with BDD to engage in behaviors or compulsions that are difficult to control — including skin picking, excessive grooming, constantly looking in the mirror and taking too many photos — in order to fix or hide perceived flaws.
But what truly sets BDD apart from insecurity, bad body image or feeling self-conscious about a photo, is how much these preoccupations and compulsions cause immense emotional distress, interrupt day-to-day functioning and affect one’s quality of life. Although, like with most mental illnesses, there is no one size fits all diagnosis — it’s incredibly important to remember this is a psychiatric disorder that greatly impacts the lives of many, and by joking about it or using it flippantly, we continue to reinforce the stigma that mental illness isn’t that serious.
While we cannot officially say whether Kim actually has body dysmorphia or not, her references to the anxiety she’s experienced after being robbed at gunpoint in October of 2016, combined with comments she made in an interview with Rolling Stone about how “she’ll photograph herself 30 times to find the right selfie,” could be interpreted as signs that she is indeed struggling. According to the mental health organization, Mind, depression and anxiety increase the likelihood of triggering BDD. Other common contributors to the development of BDD include abuse, bullying, low self-esteem, fear of being alone or isolated, perfectionistic tendencies and genetics. With that being said, it is unsure as to what extent Kim’s “anxiety over her body” affects her quality of life and and day-to-day functions.
While it’s no secret Kim has faced her fair share of body-shaming and inevitably must feel pressure to adhere to the media’s beauty standards, it’s easy to see why this reality TV star could create misinterpretations of what struggling with BDD is like.
Regardless, it’s important to note that just like mental illness, body dysmorphia doesn’t discriminate. According to the International OCD Foundation, BDD affects 1.7 to 2.4 percent of the general population, including men, and maybe more since those with the disorder are often reluctant to reveal their BDD symptoms. Additionally, the onset of mental illness can occur to anyone — even Kim Kardashian West — at any point in one’s lifetime. You can still be body positive and struggle with BDD. You can still use social media and deal with body dysmorphia. But please, be careful when making comments about psychiatric disorders that severely affect other people’s live. And if you or someone you know if struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, remember you are not alone, you deserve help and help is out there.
Image via Kim Kardashian West Facebook Page