Distorted Beauty

June 28, 2013
There are people who look in the mirror, and despite what others say, see a hideous person. April, 21, and Meghan, 15, say they are obsessed with their self-perceived physical imperfections and are stuck in a cycle of anxiety and self-hatred.







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April, 21April's parents, Glen and DeborahMeghan, 15Meghan's mother, ChristineRebecca

April

April, 21, says that for the last 11 years, she's spent countless hours every day compulsively picking at her skin — so much so that she believes she’s developed scoliosis from sitting hunched forward on her bathroom sink. She says her appearance causes her endless shame and embarrassment, and she admits to going to great lengths to hide the blemishes and scars that she says now cover her face. 

After struggling with her decision to reach out for help, April finally agreed to meet with Dr. Phil backstage.

April admits she panicked at the idea of coming on the show. “I’m so used to keeping everything a secret,” she tells Dr. Phil. She says that after some online research, she realized that other people suffer from the same behavior. “I feel like if I can touch one person and help them, all of this, and all of the nerves and stress would be totally worth it.”

Dr. Phil reads an excerpt of the five-page letter April wrote him.

April explains what she sees in the mirror.

April says she’s never shown anyone what she really looks like underneath layers of makeup. Dr. Phil asks April if she’s willing to show him what she has hidden for a decade.

April agrees to have her makeup removed. Can Dr. Phil help her see how beautiful she truly is?

April’s parents, Deborah and Glen, join the conversation. Dr. Phil explains that April’s behavior has components of anxiety and depression, and she’s stuck in a vicious cycle from which she can escape with specialized help. He tells them that there is cutting edge technology and non-invasive treatment options available, and he offers them to her. April accepts, and her parents vow to support her. 

Dr. Phil asks April if she would join him onstage and let his studio audience encourage her. She agrees and walks out to a standing ovation.

 

Meghan

Meghan, 15, says she hates how she looks so much, she often wishes she had never been born. Meghan’s mother, Christine, says her daughter’s intense self-hatred and daily violent breakdowns are ripping their family apart. What's at the root of Meghan's pain?


Christine explains her daughter’s turmoil and meltdowns. How might she be contributing to the chaos?

Dr. Phil says Christine’s frustrated reactions to Meghan aren’t helping her. She agrees.

"I feel like I shouldn't have ever been born."

Meghan says her negative self-image began in middle school when she was bullied and tormented daily.  Can she find her way back to happiness?

Dr. Phil explains how Meghan's negative thoughts have become automatic.

Dr. Phil leads a tearful Meghan to the audience. “This little girl started getting bullied when she turned about 12 years old. She feels unloved. She feels that she’s a burden. If you think she has hurt long enough, if you think she has paid long enough, if you have love and compassion in your heart for her, stand up right now,” he says. The entire audience stands and applauds.

Dr. Phil offers Meghan resources to heal and find happiness once again.

Hope for the Future

Rebecca, 25, shares that she suffered from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) for more than 10 years, but eventually received treatment and is now in recovery. She tells April and Meghan that there is a light at end of the tunnel.