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Shawn Mendes Opens Up About His Body Dysmorphia in New Interview

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

Body dysmorphia is so rarely discussed that it may be easy to feel alone in your body image struggles, but pop singer Shawn Mendes is normalizing body dysmorphia in his latest interview.

In a new interview with Paper Magazine, Mendes opened up about how a Calvin Klein ad campaign impacted his view of his body, explaining, “I was seeing myself shirtless on the monitors and I was like ‘I can never live up to that guy.’”

Mendes’ interview highlights a symptom of body dysmorphia that rarely receives the spotlight: the feeling that your body belongs to someone else.

People who live with body dysmorphia may choose to capture images of their bodies at a given time and negatively compare their bodies against that image in the future.  They often won’t perceive their bodies accurately and may not believe that the body they see in photos and videos truly represents the way they currently look, even if they haven’t changed significantly since. Shawn Mendes’ apparent disconnection from the version of himself in his Calvin Klein ads is a surprisingly common symptom of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)— negative comparisons of your body against photos or videos of yourself can be pervasive and hard to ignore if you live with BDD.

Mendes’ candid discussion of his body dysmorphia also reveals just how prevalent body image struggles are for men.  There are only marginal differences in male and female body dysmorphic disorder prevalence rates, but 43% of men are dissatisfied with their appearance, even though many people primarily associate women with body dysmorphia and negative body image.  Men are also more likely than women to become preoccupied with believing that they aren’t “muscular enough,” which can be a symptom of BDD. But because so many people associate BDD with eating disorders which primarily affect women — men with body dysmorphic disorder may not receive the treatment they need to cope with their body image struggles.

Mendes’ decision to shed light on his own body dysmorphia could help people recognize that men struggle with body image just as frequently as women do and help anyone who constantly compares their current appearance against photos and videos that they aren’t alone in feeling disconnected from their bodies.  His desire to look like a version of himself from a specific moment in time could resonate with those who want to “preserve” their “ideal bodies” — even when they feel like they’ll never look that way again.

Shawn Mendes’ candor about body dysmorphia could help normalize male body image struggles for men who have felt judged or shamed for battling BDD.  In his latest interview, Mendes’ openness about his body image reminds us that no matter what gender we identify with, our body image struggles are valid and if we feel disconnected from our bodies or constantly judge ourselves against “ideal” versions of our appearance, we aren’t alone.

Lead image via Shawn Mendes Instagram account

Originally published: July 14, 2021
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