Hayden Panettiere recently opened up to Women’s Health about her teenage struggle with body dysmorphia. I’m always glad when female celebrities (most recently Lucy Hale and Demi Lovato) speak out about their experiences with body-image issues; when high-profile people are honest about this kind of stuff, it lessens the stigma about eating disorders and other forms of mental illness for all of us.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness characterized by overwhelming, recurrent thoughts about a perceived flaw with your physical appearance. When Hayden was 16, a tabloid published a photo of her with the word “cellulite” superimposed on her butt, something that would affect any teenage girl worried about her appearance. Hayden, the October Women’s Health cover girl, told the magazine:
“I was mortified. It gave me such body dysmorphia for so long. But I remember reminding myself that beauty is an opinion, not a fact. And it has always made me feel better.”
In the age of Twitter diets, BMI numbers and YouTube ridicule, “beauty is an opinion, not a fact” is a statement I think all women, no matter what their age, can take to heart. It also seems like Hayden has moved on to have a healthy overall attitude towards her body; Women’s Health asked her all about her diet and exercise routine, which sounds pretty balanced. Apparently, she’s not one for deprivation:
“Eating healthy is a constant battle. I love chips. I find when I’m overly concerned about what I eat, I stress out my body and put on weight.”
She went on to share even more wise body-image advice (especially for a 23-year-old):
“People can tell when you’re happy with being you and when you’re not. It’s only cheesy because it’s true. As I’ve gotten older and grown into my body, I’ve started realizing that the way you carry yourself and that light coming out of your eyes are the most attractive things about you.”
Photo: Women’s Health