Full disclosure: I am convinced my face is asymmetrical, my nose is bulbous and my body is ill-proportioned. And no matter how many people comment on my appearance, the only ones I can hear are the ones who affirm those facts. Those are the only ones that strike me as true and credible.
I don’t think I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder (I suspect I just live in American culture), but it it something with which I can completely empathize. With the intense scrutiny placed on physical appearance and the complex way in which attractiveness affects a person’s treatment by others, it’s not surprising that BDD affects 1-2% of the population (7-15% of those who seek cosmetic surgery). In fact, I think it’s surprising that it’s not more common and might be under-diagnosed. The self-tests for BDD seem pretty broadly applicable.
While there are treatments for this kind of anxiety, it would also be prudent for us to all do our part to change the climate that currently encourages this kind of thinking. Every time we emphasize the idea of perfection in appearance, publicly critique the “flaws” of others or otherwise denigrate people for not meeting some random standard of looks, we are accomplices. Let’s be kinder to each other and to ourselves and place more value what we DO.