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GQ Highlights Dangers of Muscle Dysmorphia

GQ talks to experts and sufferers, including Ex-TOWIE star Charlie King, and BDDF Charity Chairman Rob Willson, about how to catch the signs and help those at risk.

Muscle Dysmorphia is a type of BDD which lead to excessive weightlifting, overtraining even when injured, restrictive diets, disordered eating, and often steroid abuse. It can often cause an individual to prioritise working out over other commitments such as relationships, work or family life.

“If you have Muscle Dysmorphia you are preoccupied by one or more perceived flaws in your appearance, and these will occupy you for several hours a day. They are causing clinically significant levels of distress, anxiety and depression and they are interfering with your everyday life. It’s not subtle.”

It affects men more than women and causes significant distress, with devastating consequences on someone’s life. Sadly, it appears to be on the rise.

The condition is poorly understood, and therefore ‘brushed off’ and not recognised as being severe. However, it’s seriousness should not be underestimated, and tragically, suicidal ideation and completion for those with MDD is common.

Dr. Rob Willson, who has treated people with the condition since the 90s, explains it’s not the physical side that it the main concern. Sufferers will choose the gym over a social event or their career.

“Where you have someone who has over trained and injured themselves and is at home feeling devastated, that’s a real worry. We’re not mucking about here.”

” I ended up retreating from people and making excuses as to why I didn’t want to be around people.”

Charlie King, one of our ambassadors at BDDF, speaks with GQ on this topic and shares his experience of Muscle Dysmorphia. He explains that he was exercising through injury, and withdrawing from social events which would interfere with his training.

After engaging in CBT, to support him in cutting back on checking and comparison behaviours, he is now finding a balance and has reached a kinder relationship with his body while still being a fitness enthusiast.

Charlie now speaks openly about BDD and MDD on his social media platforms, encouraging others to seek support if they are struggling, opening up the conversation and raising awareness of the condition.

“If you’re noticing that you’re becoming obsessive and the enjoyment factor is starting to dwindle that’s the first sign.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with these symptoms, please reach out to our helpline on support@bddfoundation.org or find out more on our Muscle Dysmorphia information page.

Read the GQ Article

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Kitty speaks with Dr. Rebecca Wilkinson on The Thinking Mind Podcast

Kitty courageously shares her story of BDD and journey of recovery.

In this podcast episode, Kitty explores her experience of ‘feeling different’, feeling like a failure in adolescence, and then first realising she had BDD. She discusses some of her common safety behaviours, checking compulsions and the all consuming experience of BDD.

“I certainly wasn’t seeking perfection, I was seeking normality. How can I blend in with everyone else… I felt that everyone was staring at me all the time.”

Kitty managed to endure her time through school, despite her symptoms of BDD already being very overwhelming. When she moved back home, things became unbearable. Luckily, a family friend highlighted to her that BDD might be what she was going through, and from here her journey of recovery began. After reaching out to the BDD Foundation, she began engaging in therapy and first started her involvement volunteering with the BDD Foundation.

“I thought I was the only person in the world feeling like this. I didn’t see a future for myself, at all.”

They also explore the treatment for BDD, exposure and response prevention exercises, and the important and common issue of shame experienced in BDD and how we can reduce this feeling.

My average time to get ready at the age of 18 or 19, was around 4 hours. I ached all over from being hunched over in the mirror. I was honing in and trying to pick up on every problem with my face, but I couldn’t fix it.”

Kitty and Rebecca also speak about the topic of relapse, a very common experience for individuals with BDD. She shares the pain of relapse, finding the motivation to ‘try again’, re-engage in therapy and the journey up to present day.

“I felt the most hopeless that I’d felt throughout my journey. I had to step back from work and move back in with my parents, and just totally retreated from the world. I didn’t know how I was going to get out of it.”

Kitty found the drive to try again, after being house bound for months. She shares the hurdles she overcame through this and the feeling of starting from scratch. However, she found that the work she had done before, supported her ability to engage in the exercises again and strengthen those new pathways.

“The second time around it’s been more gradual. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days where the BDD is more in charge than I would like it to be, but it’s been a more consistent recovery. Mainly, what’s made the difference is being kinder to myself, being gentle with myself and not beating myself up when I can’t do something.”

This is such an insightful and important conversation, thank you Kitty and Rebecca.

Listen Here

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ABC News Reports on Muscle Dysmorphia

GQ talks to experts and sufferers, including Ex-TOWIE star Charlie King, and BDDF Charity Chairman Rob Willson, about how to catch the signs and help those at risk.

Muscle Dysmorphia can lead to excessive weightlifting, overtraining even when injured, restrictive diets, disordered eating, and often steroid abuse. It can often cause an individual to prioritise working out over other commitments such as relationships, work or family life. It affects men more than women and causes significant distress, with devastating consequences on someone’s life.

As explained in the video, who spoke with Justin Baldoni, Noah Neiman & our volunteer George Mycock, many men suffering from this will begin to tie their masculinity to how they look and experience a compulsive need to ‘be big’.

Noah explains that even as a fitness professional “even I was self-conscious. I was at home feeling I should have done some more sit ups, I felt that I didn’t look good.”

As a form of BDD, the pre-occupation with muscle size and shape causes those suffering to carry out obsessive and compulsive behaviours in the hope of achieving a particular, often very unachievable body shape. Often, individuals experiencing MDD look entirely normal or are already very muscular.

“The more you focus in on it, the more you find flaws… the more distorted your perception becomes.”

As the speakers in the video disclose, MDD often causes suicidal ideation, attempts and completion.

If you or someone you know is struggling with these symptoms, please reach out to our helpline on support@bddfoundation.org or find out more on our Muscle Dysmorphia information page.

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Monki launches underwear capsule collection in collaboration with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation

More Than My Reflection

This March coinciding with International Women’s Day, Monki joins forces once again with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation (BDDF) to further raise awareness around Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

In collaboration with the BDDF, Monki is launching a limited-edition underwear collection featuring positive affirmation messages, serving as a reminder to the wearer that they are unique, and that they are more than their reflection and what they see on the outside. The capsule includes two mesh bras and briefs. One set features positive affirmations on the inside of the underwear for the wearer to read, but also reflected the correct way when looking at the mirror, for an instant confidence boost. An encouraging self-love reminder. The second set features various body illustrations, one of the brand’s signature prints.

As part of the ongoing partnership between Monki and BDDF, a donation has been made to support BDDF’s work and expand on educational resources.

The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the disorder and how it affects a person’s psyche, wellbeing and self-confidence. As a brand which creates fashion for girls and young women, we have a responsibility to our community to be as inclusive and transparent as possible when it comes to body and beauty representation. Diverse casting and transparent retouch guidelines are two of the areas we have worked with since day one. That’s why this ongoing collaboration with BDDF is important to us — we strive to empower women to feel good about themselves without aspiring to unattainable norms,” says Simone Van Starkenburg, Brand & Marketing Director at Monki.

Monki has showcased a series of personal portraits from three media volunteers who have suffered from BDD and have used their experiences to educate and inform the public about this under-diagnosed and distressing disorder.

They describe how it started, how it manifested, their lowest point, and how they have gotten to the other side. They also share advice on how to support someone potentially going through this or to someone who knows a person that is suffering from this disorder. The purpose is to enlighten, inform, educate on the disorder, encourage to seek help, and to never give up.

As part of the campaign, Monki put up posters and distorted mirrors across the UK, including London, Manchester and Birmingham. It’s wonderful to see the BDD Foundation, and most importantly BDD as a condition being recognised and amplified. You can find many more of the shared images on our Instagram, we have loved seeing them!

In November 2021, BDDF, supported by Monki, started a petition directed at the EU Parliament calling for transparency on altered images on social media. This pushed for changes to ensure that organisations, companies, and influencers are legally required to state when images have been manipulated for paid content online. This tapped into an already important and ongoing movement where we in recent years have seen changes in law changes to legislation in Norway and France. Since the petition’s launch, we have managed to accumulate over 40,000 signatures — but it doesn’t stop there. So far, the petition has been a catalyst in pushing for a similar UK legislative change, which is why it is still important to support us by signing the petition.

SIGN THE PETITION

Why has the BDD Foundation decided to collaborate with Monki?

We see Monki as an ideal fit for a collaboration with the BDD Foundation.  As a brand, they have long-standing ethical policies around their marketing. They strive to challenge beauty norms in their casting from ethnicity to body shape and size and have championed a pioneering #NoFilter campaign. They do not airbrush out features such as stretch marks, body hair, birthmarks etc. Their body positive attitude, inclusivity and continued dedication to the cause signifies that Monki is a brand that genuinely cares about the wellbeing of their community and the BDD Foundation is proud to partner with them.

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Alex & Bryony’s West Highland Way Fundraiser

Monki launches underwear capsule collection in collaboration with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation

Alex and his partner Bryony are walking the West Highland Way in June 2023, to raise funds for the BDD Foundation. As someone who lives with BDD, Alex is passionate about raising awareness of BDD and being an important voice for the many people out there who are yet to speak about their condition or get support.

“I have been diagnosed with this disorder for a while now and at times it can be debilitating for myself and massively impact those who love me.”

Alex has engaged with support from the BDD Foundation, including support groups, retreat days and listening to the Beating BDD podcast. The recommended treatment for BDD is antidepressant medication combined with intensive CBT, however current waiting times in the UK to receive such psychological intervention can be lengthy.

“It is therefore essential that this charity continues to be accessible for people suffering with BDD and their loved ones.”

Alex and Bryony have chosen a walking challenge, as being outside in nature and walking helps them both manage the distressing and unwanted feelings caused by BDD.

“We are both fully aware that there are people diagnosed with severe BDD who are unable to leave the house and face the world. We aim to complete this walking challenge so that we can give these people hope that no matter how difficult things may seem, they can improve with the right help and support.”

Please support Alex and Bryony in this fantastic challenge, and help contribute to our essential ongoing support services and research.

Donate to Alex & Bryony’s Fundraising Page

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Beating BDD Podcast #28 – Tilly Kaye

“I feel very comfortable in my body today. I’m inside looking out at the world, and it’s a much more stable place to be.”

After suffering with BDD for many years, Tilly is now reaping the benefits of all the time and effort she put into recovering from the condition. Her story proves that if you keep putting in the work, you will get something out of it.

You can download the transcript for this episode here:

BDD through fashion photography

Kitty courageously shares her story of BDD and journey of recovery.

“I’m Ellesha, a fashion photography MA student. I had been struggling with body dysmorphia on and off for many years. When I moved to London I felt a pressure to look a certain way and my body dysmorphia took over my whole life, to the point that I couldn’t leave my flat for days because I was obsessed with what I looked like. It effected my studies, my job, my friendships and relationships I felt like it had taken every part of me that I once loved.”

“I wanted to express the way I was feeling through my art. I find that self portraiture is the best way to convey what I’m truly feeling and it expresses a vulnerability that I can only get from being the model.”

“I began by getting 3D scanned whilst wearing lingerie, this was daunting but I felt most at one with my body this way. I then manipulated the images in various ways to express the way my mind felt about my body. The results became un-human and alien like as I distorted myself to be unrecognisable.”

“As I began to work on the ideas, I heavily researched the disorder and the aspect of mind body dualism meaning I was able to better understand my situation and find ways of slowly accepting myself.”


“I hope that by making this work I can show that body dysmorphic disorder can have hugely devastating effects on the everyday life and completely change the perception we have of ourselves. But to show that no one is alone in experiencing it and there is a light at the end of tunnel.”

Follow Ellesha’s work here:

Instagram: @elldoubledaze 

https://ElleshaDoubleday.com

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BBC Room 5 speaks to Tilly

Kitty courageously shares her story of BDD and journey of recovery.

This week, Tilly was featured on the BBC Sounds’ Room 5 Medical Mysteries program with broadcaster Helena Merriman. Tilly explains how, from an early age, she, never felt right in her body and how utterly disorientating that is, until one day she sat down with a therapist to put a label on that feeling.

BDD is misunderstood – even in the medical profession where the average time from recognising there is a problem to an actual diagnosis is 10 years! In that time, lives can spiral out of control, social, family and professional life can diminish to zero.

“From the outside, Tilly seems to have life figured out. She works in fashion, lives on a house-boat – for which she’s done all the plumbing and electrics. But inside, she’s struggling. She’s always felt wrong in her body – ever since school. Then one afternoon, Tilly sits down with a therapist – who fits the pieces of the puzzle together and gives Tilly a diagnosis. Tilly’s diagnosis explains the way her brain is wired – now her challenge is to re-wire it, and change her future.”

Listen to the podcast by following this link

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Hurt to Healing podcast

Kitty courageously shares her story of BDD and journey of recovery.

Pandora launched the Hurt to Healing podcast earlier this year. She opens about about the ‘uphill battle’ she has with her mental health for years. She has now begun ‘to see some glimmers of light’. As part of her own recovery, she has made it her ‘mission to support as many of you as possible on your own healing journey’. In this podcast she speaks to wonderful people from all walks of life who have opened up about their own invisible struggles in the hope that it will provide a bit of solace and comfort for some of you. She speaks to leading experts and doctors about different disorders and therapies that might help expand your knowledge on the world of mental health.

Please follow @hurttohealingpod

In her latest episodes she has focused on Body Dysmorphic Disorder by interviewing our lovely ambassador Charlie King

Since leaving the reality show, The Only Way Is Essex in 2015, Charlie has struggled with both depression and body dysmorphic disorder. The pandemic was a challenging time for all of us. And Charlie admits that psychologically he was not in a good place, which led him to get surgery on his nose. Charlie now uses his platform to call for mental health awareness on this issue, and I’m so glad to be able to get the chance to talk to him about it today.

Listen to the podcast by following this link

Pandora follows up with some expert knowledge on BDD from our trustee

Dr Amita Jassi.

Dr Jassi is a consultant, clinical psychologist at the National and Specialist OCD, BDD and Related Disorder Service for Children and Young People. Body dysmorphic disorder affects about one in 50 people. We discuss why it’s such a debilitating condition, why there is a lack of insight into it and I ask her about what treatment and therapies are available.

Listen to the podcast by following this link

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Christmas Special – Managing BDD in the holidays

Autumn Webinars | with Andy Hall, Kim Booker, Lawrence Baker and Kitty Wallace

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The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. Charity no. 1153753.