Simply being born female in our society is to grow up being told your worth as a person is tied to how slim and attractive you are. Even for those of us lucky enough to have evolved parents, the message is still driven home by the world at large.
Picture your worst fear or most shameful experience becoming associated with an area of your body, and then magnify this image many times over. Within the construct of body dysmorphic disorder, a body part takes on an identity of its own. The body area of concern becomes profoundly associated with the individual's sense of self: The individual with BDD misses the forest through the trees, and rather than seeing many different body parts that together shape outward appearance, the despised physical feature becomes the focal point of their existence. It can easily become the singular element within the person's life and a gauge that determines the entirety of their self-worth.
Imagine experiencing pervasive and perpetual sensations of dread and shame, the sort of visceral response that you might have when your body reacts to a physical threat. Envision how distressing it would be if you experienced these exact same feelings after viewing yourself in a reflective surface or a photograph. Imagine what it might be like if your body was the source of extreme feelings of anger, disgust, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. Try to visualize how it might be if viewing your outward appearance triggered a reaction usually associated with a perilous situation, and how disconcerting it would be if every time you looked at yourself you experienced primal feelings of terror. If you have not had such an experience, it is probably quite difficult to comprehend how it is possible to have such a reaction to one's own body. This, though, is the very tormenting reality for individuals who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).