Reality TV star Charlie King says body dysmorphia drove him “to the depths of despair”.
The 36-year-old, who appeared on The Only Way is Essex, says he struggled with his body image before appearing on TV.
He appeared before the Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday as part of its inquiry into the impact of body image on mental and physical health.
Charlie spoke about how his mental health affected his life.
He was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) which is a mental health condition in which a person spends a lot of time worrying about appearance defects that might go unnoticed by others.
“During the lockdown, I became obsessed with my nose,” he told committee MPs.
“I saw a plastic surgeon who agreed ‘we could fix this’ and he gave me his validation. »
He says there was no surgeon’s assessment of his mental health, nor a need for him to disclose that he had BDD.
He told the committee he believed surgeons should check in with potential patients to see what their mental state is when pursuing cosmetic procedures.
Plastic surgeon Nigel Mercer is a past president of the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, and says that all surgeons who are part of his organization and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, should have an advanced understanding of how identify psychological factors during patient consultations.
Many within the organization have taken an advanced cosmetic surgery course that covers mental health, and he says the majority of surgeons offer advice to patients, but uptake is low.
Charlie said that when the nose job went wrong he “went to the depths of despair”.
“I had to go live with my mother because I couldn’t earn money and I was depressed. There were no resources [from the plastic surgeon to help] and this year has been so difficult. »
His testimony comes as 80% of people said their body image had a negative impact on their mental health, in a survey conducted by the Health and Social Care Committee.
More than 1,500 people took part in the survey, which also asked questions about the accessibility of NHS mental health services and whether the government takes the effects of negative body image seriously.
“I felt so embarrassed”
Charlie says he wants more awareness around BDD so people can get the right help.
“I felt so embarrassed as a man, it’s meaningless but people [with BDD] need to know that what they are feeling is valid and that it can be processed,” he says.
“We need to give people access to what they need, instead of them thinking they have to change themselves.
He says his anxiety and depression stemmed from body dysmorphia and “if I had figured that out, I might not have been in this position.”
Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
The Health and Social Services Committee held a number of hearings as part of its body image inquiry, with three oral testimony sessions alongside its public inquiry.
The investigation also revealed:
Other contributors to the committee include the aesthetic awareness charity Save Face, the Mental Health Foundation and the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners.
- body image
- British government
- Mental Health
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