8 Signs of a Body Image Disorder in Teens


The way we think and feel about our body image has a direct impact on our mental health, contentment, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, many people are not happy with the way they look, and it seems that it is not just adults who are struggling to maintain self-esteem in the age of the ‘selfie’ and edited images on social media.

It has become evident through many studies that children as young as three are speaking negatively about their appearance and talking about the need to diet. Some children have even tried dieting by the time they turn six, and before the age of 12 a high number of girls believe that they are unattractive. These negative thinking patterns can lead to body image issues, unhealthy lifestyles, eating disorders or body image disorders. Here we explore the potential signs of a Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) in teenagers to helps parents recognize when their teenager may be developing problematic body image issues.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a type of anxiety where a person focuses on particular aspects of their appearance or parts of their body and worries that they are abnormal or too unattractive. While others do not notice anything unusual and those close to them try to reassure them, they are convinced that they are flawed. They will usually obsess about what they perceive to be a flaw with intrusive thoughts and poor self-esteem, which can have a destructive impact on their life. This may also cause them to try and cover parts of their body, and they may even consider (or go through with) cosmetic surgery. Someone with BDD is not vain or superficial; they are unable to prevent their negative thoughts from interrupting their day.

We have listed the potential signs of BDD below. If you are concerned that your teenager is exhibiting several of the symptoms it’s important to know that it can be treated with therapy and medication. It’s best to seek professional help from a specialist center, such as Ignite Teen Treatment, where they will advise the most appropriate action or treatment. This may include counseling, medication, or cognitive behavioral therapy. Remember to reassure your teenager that their condition is nothing to be ashamed of and that with the right help they will recover.

Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

1. Regularly checking their appearance in a mirror
2. Asking for reassurance about their appearance from family or friends
3. Being afraid of seeing their reflection or photos of themselves and avoiding mirrors and cameras
4. Re-applying make-up or fixing their hair to an excessive amount as they are never satisfied
5. Exercising excessively and/or obsessively
6. Regularly dieting and/or restricting their diet to an unhealthy degree
7. Avoiding events or social occasions which require them to show parts of their body, e.g., going to a swimming pool or to the beach
8. Talking about needing or wanting surgery to ‘correct’ what they perceive to be a flaw.


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