Body Dysmorphia and the Problem of “One Size Fits All”: An Aside to the Fitting Room Confessionals

Body Dysmorphia, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is an anxiety disorder related to depression which affects both men and women equally.  A person who suffers from BDD is literally obsessed by their appearance, usually fixated on a flaw that is beyond their control, or which is almost unnoticeable by others.  Oftentimes, the flaw is imagined.  This obsession with an invisible or uncontrollable problem begins to manifest itself in compulsions to adjust, camouflage, or “fix” the issue, with some BDD patients going so far as to engage in extreme, and sometimes unnecessary, cosmetic surgeries, which may or may not rid them of feelings of inadequacy or discomfort.

While BDD affects both men and women equally, the areas of concern differentiate greatly: men with BDD tend to be worried about their body build, thinning hair, and genital size. Women, on the other hand, have a much longer list of common BDD concerns: skin, stomach, weight, breasts, buttocks, thighs, legs, hips and excessive body hair.

So what does this have to do with #BoycottBrandy?

Among other things, the idea that Brandy Melville’s clothing ought to fit “most” people who walk into their store could be seen as a trigger to people with, or at risk of developing, BDD.  Societal expectations and standards for beauty add to the pressure that people living with BDD feel to maintain their appearance.  Brandy Melville’s philosophy of “one size fits most” has the potential to trigger the panic and anxiety of the disorder.  Constructing the idea that “most” people can fit into Brandy’s clothes is alienating: if I don’t fit into those clothes, then am I not most people? Does that make me different? And is that bad?

Going to Brandy Melville and experiencing this kind of discrimination firsthand was rather disheartening.  Keely herself, as we finished up our trip, commented half jokingly, “Well, that was depressing.”  Having struggled for so long and so hard with body image and trying to find clothes that fit me properly, it’s easy to let the sentiment resonate a little.  And when so many stores have thin models in their photos and constantly stock more of the smaller sizes near the tops of their displays while hiding the larger sizes in harder and more awkward places to reach, the message that is being told becomes clear: the bigger you are, so are you less welcome.  To fit, you have to work harder for it.

And that, to me, is just plain unfair.

– Kristin


For more on BDD:

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-body-dysmorphic-disorder

http://bddfoundation.org/helping-you/about-bdd/

http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd

***Disclaimer: this post contains information from a quick Google search, including a summary of information found on the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, but should not be considered authoritative, medically.  For more information on BDD, remember to consult a professional.  This post also contains a personal opinion on Brandy Melville, the clothing industry, and how it can potentially be linked to BDD: this, is a personal opinion and should not be cited as an authoritative source.