Sarah Michelle Gellar Does Not Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder Because She’s Female

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Sarah Michelle Gellar appears on the October cover of Health, and in her accompanying interview she discusses everything from her nine-year marriage to Freddie Prinze Jr. to parenting to going into labor while in pilates class. However, when admitting that she has body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological condition in which someone becomes obsessed with an imagined flaw in their appearance, she says it’s because she’s female.

This assertion by Sarah is entirely incorrect as gender is not a prerequisite for developing body dysmorphic disorder. An equal number of men and women suffer from the condition. Shame on you, Sarah.

Sarah says to Health:

“Oh God … I’m a female! I totally have body dysmorphic disorder. I think most women do … I just have to remember that I’m human, and I’m a mom. Being a parent changes the vanity at least a little bit. It has to. Your priorities are different.”

BDD is not necessarily an eating disorder, which does predominately affect women. In fact, BDD has very little to do with cultural influences or standards of beauty. The condition is noted in both men and women equally according to Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, a professor of psychiatry at Brown Medical School, “the best known authority on BDD” according to The New York Times:

One presumed factor — societal emphasis on looks — is far less important than you might think. Dr. Phillips said the incidence of B.D.D. was nearly the same all over the world, regardless of cultural influences. Also, unlike eating disorders, which mainly affect women seeking supermodel thinness, nearly as many men as women have body dysmorphic disorder.

While it’s entirely possible that Sarah could have been exaggerating in her interview, her comments to Health perpetuate two mythologies: that women innately suffer from disorders related to appearance simply because they’re women without acknowledging societal pressures and that men are exempt from worries about their appearance because, well, they’re men. Both make sweeping generalizations about gender that in fact have nothing to do with body dysmorphic disorder, which is also noted to affect children as well.

Sarah should either get a better PR rep or perhaps consider her questions more carefully. A publication entitled “Health” should have known better than to publish such inaccuracies.