If You Don't Believe Megan Fox's Body Dysmorphia Admission, Please Let It Be A Teachable Moment

Megan Fox sat down with Sports Illustrated for its 2023 swimsuit edition, along with Martha Stewart, and opened up about body dysmorphia disorder (BDD). "I have body dysmorphia. I don't ever see myself the way other people see me," Fox began. "There's never a point in my life where I loved my body. Never, ever." She traced this back to childhood. "When I was little, that was like an obsession I had, that I should look this way," she went on. "And why I had an awareness of my body that young, I'm not sure." Fox explained that her childhood environment was very religious, and so the emphasis on the body was unusual for that cultural milieu. "The journey of loving myself is going to be never-ending, I think," she added. Fox said what she wanted people noticed about her first. "I wish everyone noticed my aura," she said. "Because I have a rainbow aura and it's special."

Fox's admission to body dysmorphia opens up a conversation around the lesser-known disorder. Her message is powerful because it touches on a cultural assumptionthat only people who look a certain way suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. Fox has long been lauded as a Hollywood sex symbol and is frequently cast in roles that feature her as a feminine ideal. Yet by her own accounts, her personal image doesn't align with this external view. This admittance to suffering from BDD blows the doors off any stigmas around who might or might not suffer from the condition.

The misconceptions around what body dysmorphia actually is

It's important to note that body dysmorphia disorder is not an eating disorder, though there are cases where an individual can have both. Per Mayo Clinic, BDD is classified as a mental illness that leaves a person with intrusive feelings of distress around a part of their body that they perceive to be inadequate or abnormal. The DSM-5 considers it a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Often, the perceived abnormality that those suffering from BDD see is unnoticeable to others. To make matters even more difficult, many people often have a hazy understanding of what the disorder is and how it affects people. 

"There is a widely shared misconception that BDD is simply an extreme expression of vanity," social worker Heather Senior Monroe told Bustle. "[However], adults who have BDD tend to face serious disruptions in their social functioning." As Mental Health America notes, those who have BDD can struggle with the disorder for several hours per day obsessing over what they view as issues with their appearance. This can make it difficult for individuals to focus on other tasks at hand and interfere with personal relationships. BDD also frequently sparks shame and low self-esteem in those who suffer from it. Per one study by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the consequences of leaving the disorder untreated can be fatal. 

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Body dysmorphia can affect anyone

Fox's admission shows that one's outward appearance has little to do with a disorder like body dysmorphia. This may help shed light on how the condition is frequently underdiagnosed. Per Cleveland Clinic, 2.4% of US adults have experienced the body dysmorphia disorder, but many don't get diagnosed until years after symptoms start.

This isn't the first time that Fox has opened up about this mental health issue. In a joint interview with British GQ alongside Machine Gun Kelly, Fox spoke about misconceptions. "We may look at somebody and think, 'That person's so beautiful. Their life must be so easy.' They most likely don't feel that way about themselves,'" Fox said. Later in the same interview, she added: "Yeah, I have body dysmorphia. I have a lot of deep insecurities." The fact that Fox was 37 at the time of her admission is significant too. "Body dysmorphic disorder isn't a problem that resolves when adolescence ends," Lauren Smolar, The National Eating Disorders Association's (NEDA) Director of Programs told Bustle. "In fact, the disorder tends to grow stronger with time, and leaving the disease untreated can have serious consequences." Although Fox didn't give an exact age for when her disorder began, she noted that it started when she was young.

While it's difficult to hear of anyone suffering, Fox's numerous admissions of insecurity and body dysmorphia can shed more light on the issue. The fact that someone as physically admired as Fox can struggle with this shows that it can happen to anybody. The good news is that there is treatment available for body dysmorphia. According to The Washington Post, the most effective measures are a combination of medication as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.