How I Overcame My Teen Struggle With Body Dysmorphic Disorder

I never even knew that invisible braces existed up until now. When I met Adam at 14, his two front teeth were mis-shapen and he went on to have to wear braces to correct them, he really disliked them and he felt self conscious even though I reminded him consistantly that they never bothered me and that I thought he was gorgeous. 

And then I started thinking about how all of us, can at times, be particularly self-conscious when it comes to the way we look. Whether or not it's a long term feeling, just a phase or the occasional 'off day'. We've probably all at some point or other looked in the mirror and wanted to change something physical about ourselves. Myself included..

As a teenager I suffered with body dysmorphic disorder. I became fixated on something about myself that sounds sort of silly, but at the time my obsession felt like it ruled certain parts of my life. It at times stopped me from leaving the house and saw me spend probably what added up to be quite a few hours a day trying to correct the 'problem I believed I had'. In my eyes I was too pale and my lips were too red.. so I'd cover my lips in concealer or foundation as much as I could to try and take some of the colour away, but this would make them dry and cracked and so I'd then pick at my lips - which would make them bleed. It was a downward spiral. And as trivial and small as it sounds now, in my head at that time, the 'problem' was much bigger. 

Thankfully, this isn't something I do now and it isn't something that rules my life. In fact 97% of the time I wear nothing on my lips at all and I manage to feel totally confident and completely happy as my bare-lipped self - the total opposite to how I spent my teenage years feeling. I also stopped self-tanning a few years back and have never allowed myself to spend so much time and energy focusing on how I look physically since.  

It did take a few years but I managed to achieve this by realising firstly that life was way too short to be so obsessed by what colour my skin and lips were. I realised secondly that other people weren't seeing what I was seeing. My view of myself was distorted and I was being incredibly harsh towards myself for what was no actual reason. I asked myself who I was trying to impress.. I had a boyfriend (now Husband) who'd been with me for years and who told me how beautiful I was everyday. I wasn't sure why I wouldn't listen to the one person I trusted more than anyone else. I'd become so obsessed about something that was, in reality, nothing and had blown it up in my head.

In time I managed to stop concealing and picking at my lips all together. I had to be brave, though inside I felt insecure. One day, bare-lipped at what was my place of work at the time, I was stopped by a male co-worker who looking at my face said... "Wow, I hadn't realised how white your teeth are! You have such a lovely smile!".  It was then that I suddenly realised that I'd fixated and obsessed about how I thought I looked with bare lips but in doing so I'd completely dismissed anything good about myself. I'd completely ignored the fact that there were parts of me that I did like and those parts should have been what I had focused my energy on, not the 'bad' parts. 

Many years have now passed and I grew up and I realised that we tend to all want what we don't have. I also realised that one persons perception of beautiful is different to the next persons and that we tend to focus on the 'bad' rather than the 'good'. 

I still prefer to wear a nude lip colour on my lips for special occasions but I don't let it rule my life anymore. 

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  1. This is a great post Alex and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this - I know I can. As a teenager I believed I was ugly, and associated this feeling with my glasses. Over time I grew more comfortable with who I am and how I look, and when I had to top wearing my contact lenses a couple of years ago I was fine with it. Now I feel completely happy with how I look in my specs. I touched upon this in a recent post which you can read if you wish http://mademetolaugh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-girl-i-am-now.html

    It's wonderful to hear how you've overcome your body dysmorphic disorder, and that you're now more confident and happy. You are a very beautiful young lady :)

  2. I think we all have issues with something about ourselves growing up and although yours sounds trivial now I am sure it was very real to you at the time x

  3. What a wonderfully honest post. I can completely relate from my younger years. Thank you for writing such an honest post xx

  4. It can be tough being a young girl/woman and growing up with pressures and so I can understand this. I think everyone has an issue with something to do with their body or image. Thanks for sharing. Jess x

  5. Thank you for being brave enough to share this! I struggled for years (as a teen and into my early twenties) with BDD related to my weight. It wasn't until my mid-twenties that I finally had an epiphany one day and realized I had never been as "fat" as I had assumed, but it's still something I'm struggling to overcome. It's hard sometimes, because people say "oh, it's all in your head, just get over it it's not like having a "real" eating disorder", but it really is an uphill battle!

    I think you're gorgeous, btw! You have such a beautiful smile. I'm glad you're finally comfortable with it and happy with who you are <3

  6. Very brave post, Alex.

    I had braces for most of my teens to fix my teeth. Unfortunately, even now, I'm still not happy with them but I realise that I probably think about it way more than anybody else does.

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

  7. lovely read. gorgeous photos of you too x

  8. Beautiful photos of you Alex and a very brave thing to talk about. Our problems aren't trivial, and certainly not at the time. It can be hard being a teenage girl and there's a lot of pressure on us. I think you are stunning, inside and out, and I mean that completely. x