Being at Peace with Oneself

by Ulrike Behrendt

For Ulrike’s master’s project at university, they have created a collection of six artworks focused on the theme of Body Dysmorphia. Ulrike would like to share their work with fellow sufferers to find out if their work resonates with you and receive some feedback.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a body image problem that is marked by an intense preoccupation with one’s physical appearance. It can result in extensive gazing of one’s perceived flaws or – as in my case – in avoiding looking at oneself all together. For me, my body is an alien shell that carries me around and not something I can identify with. I cannot actually look at myself neither in the mirror nor in photos. The body of work created explores different approaches to visualise the tension between me and my body. Photographs were digitally manipulated, worked into and written upon. The object is the subject and vice versa. Initially connected by aversion, they show an attempt to be at peace.

Acceptance and Self Love (featured below) use my eyes perspective’s view of my body creating a neutral distance. It is not always possible to think positively during moments of struggle with BDD. Peace is found in admitting the negative thoughts.

Shadow Dance (featured below) confronts my body indirectly by its shadow, hereby creating enough distance and abstraction to allow looking at myself. Poses explore the interplay between the observer, the arranger, and the ‘me’. Twelve shadows are arranged as a group describing a story of curiosity, instability and peace.

The series Almost Within Reach (featured below) transport the idea of ‘making contact’ with a blurred image in the mirror. My hand is reaching out to the person on the other side offering peace. An impressionistic feel to it transfers the artwork to somewhere between dream and reality. Almost Within Reach III is covered with unfiltered thoughts about me, my art and my body. The text forms a veil and middle ground between the observer and the image. I am almost at peace with myself.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my artwork. Would you be willing to provide me with some feedback?

Does the work resonate with you?

What are thoughts going through your mind when seeing the images?

Would you say it conveys what a struggle with BDD can feel like?

Does the work highlight the frustration with the condition as well as giving a sense of hope?

Please connect with Ulrike to share your responses and feedback on

More stories from the community

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. Charity no. 1153753.