‘Modern Family’s’ Reid Ewing Opens Up About Body Dysmorphia

20 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Modern Family star Reid Ewing reveals desperation to look like Brad Pitt led him to plastic surgery hell.

Then 19 and still new to Los Angeles, the “Modern Family” actor spent much of his time alone in his apartment, taking photos of himself from every possible angle and then analyzing them in torturous detail.The actor, who found fame as Dylan on the ABC sitcom, has opened up about suffering from body dysmorphia and how it led to an obsession with cosmetic surgery.

Modern Family star Reid Ewing has revealed he has struggled with body dysmorphic disorder his whole life and has undergone numerous cosmetic surgeries as a result. Poring over the images, his traced familiar routes across the planes of his face — down the jawline, along the ridges of his profile, across the expanse of his cheeks — always ending at the same conclusion: “No one is allowed to be this ugly.” So Ewing made an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon, believing the procedure would turn him into Brad Pitt and put a stop to the camera sessions, the loneliness, the irresistible impulse to catalog his flaws. He agreed that for my career it would be necessary to get cosmetic surgery,” he said. “He quickly determined that large cheek implants would address the issues I had with my face, and a few weeks later I was on the operating table.” “I woke up screaming my head off from pain, with tears streaming down my face,” he wrote. “The doctor kept telling me to calm down, but I couldn’t. Instead, Ewing said in a essay for the Huffington Post published Thursday, it launched a cycle of painful procedures that left him even more distressed about his appearance, necessitating further surgery. But despite the pain, he had several procedures as well as “injectable fillers and fat transfers” experimenting with his face, and even borrowed money from his grandmother to help pay for it. “Of the four doctors who worked on me, not one had mental health screenings in place for their patients, except for asking if I had a history of depression, which I said I did, and that was that,” Reid claimed. “None of the doctors suggested I consult a psychologist for what was clearly a psychological issue rather than a cosmetic one or warn me about the potential for addiction.”

They would be more aptly called cheekbone implants. “I went back to the doctor several times in a frenzy, but he kept refusing to operate on me for another six months, saying I would eventually get used to the change. “I couldn’t let anyone see me like this, so I stayed in complete isolation. They might lose hours in front of a mirror, meticulously working to camouflage their purported flaws, or they might compulsively avoid mirrors at all costs, terrified of what they’ll see. When I went out, people on the street would stare at me, and when I visited my parents they thought I had contracted some illness.” To fix his botched procedure, the actor sought out more plastic surgery with a new doctor who suggested a chin implant and he then continued to get more cosmetic procedures over the next couple of years. “At the beginning of 2012, all the isolation, secrecy, depression, and self-hate became too much to bear,” he wrote. “I vowed I would never get cosmetic surgery again even though I was still deeply insecure about my looks.

It took me about six months before I was comfortable with people even looking at me.” Reid wrote that he now sees what a huge mistake he made: “I wish I could go back and undo all the surgeries. And studies suggest that more than half of BDD suffers seek out cosmetic surgery, which, as in Ewing’s case, often leaves them as tormented as they were before.

The advocacy group lists several famous names who may have had the disorder, though none were ever diagnosed, including Sylvia Plath, Michael Jackson and Franz Kafka. Like most mental illnesses, the causes of BDD are difficult to decipher — usually, a troubling cocktail of genetic predisposition, individual traumas and broader social pressures.

According to a report in the journal Nature, people with BBD are more likely to show abnormalities in the visual processing centers of their brain, things that lead them to focus on tiny details rather than examine a bigger picture. And it’s not a new phenomenon, something that can be blamed on unrealistic modern advertising or 21st century ennui, said Brown University professor Katherine Phillips, one of the leading experts on BDD. “There are descriptions from over 100 years ago of patients just like those I was seeing in the 1990’s,” she told the New York Times in 2003. “The descriptions were nearly identical.” One of the earliest comes from turn of the century French psychiatrist Pierre Janet, whose patient was convinced that her face was disfigured by a horrible mustache. He poetically termed her ailment “obsession of shame of the body.” “Dysmorphia phobia” as a psychological diagnosis dates back to 1891, when it was coined by Italian psychiatrist Enrico Morselli.

He in turn borrowed the word dysmorphia (literally, “bad body”) from an ancient Greek storyabout a deformed young girl who was hidden from the world by her parents. Another put it at just 2. “It was a bit like moving the furniture around,” Minnie Wright, 47, told theBBC. “The underlying problem was still there, it just all looked a bit different.” For Ewing, the failure of his first procedure drove him to total isolation. Ewing drove from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, a national park in the desolate California desert, terrified of being seen in Los Angeles bearing the effects of cosmetic surgery. Regardless, Ewing writes that the cosmetic surgeries he underwent over the course of the following four years were painful and invariably disappointing, both because his doctors seemed unqualified and his face was never really the problem in the first place.

With some distance between himself and his surgeries, he is now indignant that his doctors never administered a mental health screening before putting him under their knives. She and her team use a questionnaire and clinical interview to distinguish people who simply want to change a particular physical trait from people with BDD.

This concern is for the good of surgeons as much as their patients: Asurvey of cosmetic surgeons found that 29 percent were threatened with a lawsuit from an unhappy patient with BDD. Psychiatrists for the defense and the prosecution diagnosed her with BDD (she was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole). Instead of cosmetic fixes, according to Nature, psychiatrists increasingly recommend cognitive behavioral therapy — a treatment strategy that exposes people to the thing that makes them anxious, then talks them through how to change their response.

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