Our bodies own identity

Charlotte Cooper shares a recent art exhibition named “Identity” to help us understand Body Dysmorphia and the severity of it in the current beauty industry...

Charlotte Cooper
3rd December 2018

Body positivity is on the rise in 2018 and there is encouragement left right and centre for us to embrace our natural figures no matter our shape or size. It may therefore be hard to believe that body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is still at a shockingly high rate.

Statistics show that one in ten people suffering from the mental health condition where people spend large amounts of time worrying about their appearance. BDD sufferers usually concentrate on certain areas of their body which they perceive to be flawed which creates sever stress affecting their daily lives. Relationships, social interactions and work can be detrimentally affected often leading to depression, self-harm or even suicidal thoughts.

[pullquote]Earlier this year research showed that teenagers were undergoing plastic surgery to look like the ‘filters’ used on social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.[/pullquote]Earlier this year research showed that teenagers were undergoing plastic surgery to look like the ‘filters’ used on social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.Photoshopping, face-tuning and ‘perfecting’ apps are readily available for anyone to use in order to achieve body ‘perfection’. Pressure from social media and society may be the culprits behind the significant rise in BDD but the latest empowering art exhibition seeks to change this.

Art exhibition, Identity, held in London’s Zebra One Gallery is challenging the stigma around BDD. Ten international artists have come together to showcase their work which examines self-perceptions shaped by environment, society and the media. One of the displays in the exhibition is from Turkish artist, Meltem Isik, who has used enlarged images of his subjects’ bodies revealing what it really feels like to live with BDD. Isik gets up close and person with images showing body dysmorphic tendencies in people of all ages, races and genders and how perception of themselves is distorted.

Scientists and researchers are yet to find the cause to BDD as each experience varies in severity. Artist Leigh de Vries showcases her prosthetic moulds that display her personal experience with BDD. Leigh was born with a lazy eye which was corrected in 2014 but left her suffering from severe BDD. Her latest work shows the perception of having a large tumour weighs down one side of her face which unveils the shocking way she sees herself.

Even successful celebrities such as Lady Gaga can suffer from BDD as images used in the exhibition show. Back in 2009 photographer Derrick Santini captured the US singer who openly spoke about her body confidence and struggles with anorexia and bulimia although not realising at the time she suffered from body dysmorphia. Other celebrities who have spoken out about suffering with their body image, particularly BDD, include actress Brittany Snow and actor Robert Pattinson.

Identity is a powerful exhibition aiming to get people talking more openly about body dysmorphia. Both men and women alike can suffer from this mental health condition with the most common age group being from teens to young adults. BDD causes the individual to fixate on comparing themselves to others, going to extreme lengths to conceal their ‘flaws’ and even avoiding mirrors all together. By raising awareness of this mental health disorder perhaps we can combat body dysmorphia so that nobody has to ever fear walking past a mirror.

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