Modern Family actor Reid Ewing has spoken out about the obsession with cosmetic surgery that has haunted his life.
Reid plays Haley’s on/off boyfriend Dylan on the hit comedy series, and in an essay for the Huffington Post he has revealed he suffers from body dysmorphic disorder. Classified as a mental illness or mental disorder, people with BDD constantly worry about small or non-existent defects in their appearance.
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The problems started when Reid was a young actor who had just moved to Hollywood.
He writes, “I'd sit alone in my apartment and take pictures of myself from every angle, analyzing every feature. After a few years of doing this, one day I decided I had to get cosmetic surgery. ‘No one is allowed to be this ugly,’ I thought. ‘It's unacceptable.’”
In 2008 at the age of 19 he met with a cosmetic surgeon to discuss his appearance, and was persuaded that cheek implants would help fix all his problems. He believed that if he had just one procedure he “would suddenly look like Brad Pitt”.
While the surgeon was empathetic at the initial consultation, when Reid actually underwent surgery he found that the surgeon and his staff were uncaring and even rude. He was in much more pain than he expected, but received little help.
Reid had to spend weeks with his face wrapped up in a mask to help it heal, and spent time hiding out in a hotel room. Even when the bandages came off his face was swollen and bruised, even leading a police officer to take a photo of him.
But he wasn’t happy with the final result.
He writes, “After all the swelling finally went down, the results were horrendous. The lower half of my cheeks were as hollow as a corpse's, which, I know, is the opposite of what you'd expect, as they are called cheek implants. They would be more aptly called cheekbone implants.”
The surgeon refused to operate on him for another six months, but he eventually found another one who agreed to give him a chin implant. It was inserted incorrectly, and he was able to move it from side to side when touching his chin. The doctor did eventually agree to fix it.
Reid underwent several more procedures with multiple doctors, none of whom ever asked any questions about his mental health. He had a history of depression and eating disorders, as well as family members with obsessive compulsive disorder, but this was barely touched on.
In 2012 he decided to stop with the surgery, and began to understand that he had body dysmorphic disorder.
Reid writes, “People with body dysmorphic disorder often become addicted to cosmetic surgery. Gambling with your looks, paired with all the pain meds doctors load you up on, make it a highly addictive experience. It's a problem that is rarely taken seriously because of the public shaming of those who have had work done.”
It’s a really important message, and Reid has connected with people across the world after his story went viral.
If you are concerned about your own emotional wellbeing, are experiencing a personal crisis or are concerned about someone else, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or at www.lifeline.org.au or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or at beyondblue.org.au
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