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How is it possible that famous beauties such as Hayden Panettiere, Sarah Michelle-Gellar, Uma Thurman, Shakira, and Jessica Simpson struggle profoundly with their self-image? The culprit is body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological malady that distorts a person’s body image. A suffering individual will obsess for several hours a day over a perceived flaw, and may resort to cosmetic procedures in attempts to appear “normal.” Sadly, those who undergo such procedures often feel no satisfaction with the results. Panettiere shared how seeing a paparazzi photo of her cellulite mortified her, and gave her “such body dysmorphia for so long.” And Michelle-Geller once told Health magazine, “I totally have body dysmorphic disorder. I think most women do.”

Indeed, a lot of people assume it’s only women and girls who become preoccupied with what’s “wrong” with their bodies. But, on the contrary, men suffer from it nearly as frequently. Robert Pattinson has described his own battles with negative gnawing thoughts about his perceived flaws especially before auditions and red carpet events. “Up until that moment I’m a nut case. Body dysmorphia–overall tremendous anxiety,” he once admitted experiencing.

Simiarly, Modern Family‘s Reid Ewing battled body dysmorphia as well as an addiction to plastic surgery. In a deeply painful and honest blog to the Huffington Post last November, he revealed:

“In my case, my looks were the only thing that mattered to me. I had just moved to LA to become an actor and had very few, if any, friends. I’d sit alone in my apartment and take pictures of myself from every angle, analyzing every feature. After a few years of doing this, one day I decided I had to get cosmetic surgery. ‘No one is allowed to be this ugly,’ I thought. ‘It’s unacceptable.'”

Ewing’s long list of surgical procedures started at the age of 19; he details the tremendous post-surgery swelling and pain he experienced accompanied by his impossible attempts to hide in shame. Sadly, time and time again the results proved to be problematic at best.

“Each procedure would cause a new problem that I would have to fix with another procedure…. Much of this was going on during the same time period I was shooting ‘Modern Family.’ Most of the times I was on camera were when I’d had the numerous implants removed and was experimenting with less-noticeable changes to my face, like injectable fillers and fat transfers. none of them last very long or are worth the money.”

Finally, Ewing came across a doctor who gave the advice, “Before seeking to change your face, you should question whether it is your mind that needs fixing.” This message was at complete odds with what all his previous doctors had been promoting, and it inspired Ewing to look deeper into his history of depression and come to terms with his dysmorphic disorder. He now wishes he could go back and advise his younger self to accept and appreciate himself. Regarding the surgeries and procedures he says, “It’s just not necessary. It’s not going to make your life happier or better. In fact, it did the exact opposite.”

As for Hayden Panettiere, she now reminds herself that “beauty is an opinion, not a fact,” and this always makes her feel better. “People can tell when you’re happy with being you and when you’re not. As I’ve gotten older and grown into my body, I’ve started realizing that the way you carry yourself and that light coming out of your eyes are the most attractive things about you.”


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