Nikita Richardson
November 20, 2015 1:26 pm

Sometimes it can seem as if body dysmorphia — a mental disorder characterized by a person’s preoccupation with perceived physical flaws — is solely the domain of women. After all, most stories about the botched plastic surgeries or drastic changes in appearance that follow body dysmorphia involve the fairer sex.

But the truth is that body dysmorphia affects men and women almost equally. Take Reid Ewing, the actor best known for portraying Haley Dunphy’s ditzy, on-again-off-again boyfriend, Dylan, on Modern Family. Yesterday, the actor decided to come clean about his own struggles with body dysmorphia, a disorder which led him to undergo several plastic surgeries starting at age 19.

In an op-ed written for the Huffington Post, Ewing reveals that his body dysmorphia began to take a serious toll on his mental health soon after he moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career. Living by himself and with few friends to confide in, Ewing obsessed over his appearance, convincing himself that no one should be allowed to look as ugly as he did. Before long, he’d booked his first consultation with a plastic surgeon.

“I told the doctor why I felt my face needed cosmetic surgery and told him I was an actor,” writes Ewing. “He agreed that for my career it would be necessary to get cosmetic surgery. He quickly determined that large cheek implants would address the issues I had with my face, and a few weeks later I was on the operating table.”

According to Ewing, he woke up screaming after the surgery and in excruciating pain. From there, his recovery put him out of commission for three weeks, forcing the young actor to go into hiding outside L.A. Once his face was healed, Ewing says he was dissatisfied with the results, writing that the cheek implants left his face “hollow as a corpse’s.” Within in a few weeks, he met with another doctor to schedule a second surgery.

Over the next few years, Ewing not only underwent more surgeries, but a handful of outpatient procedures, including fat transfers and injectable fillers.

“Each procedure would cause a new problem that I would have to fix with another procedure,” he writes. “The new business model for cosmetic surgeons is to charge less and get more people in and out. I used the money I saved from acting and then borrowed from my parents and grandmother when I was most desperate.”

It took Ewing four years to break the cycle and to finally acknowledge that his problem wasn’t physical, but mental.

“Of the four doctors who worked on me, not one had mental health screenings in place for their patients, except for asking if I had a history of depression, which I said I did, and that was that,” writes Ewing. “None of the doctors suggested I consult a psychologist for what was clearly a psychological issue rather than a cosmetic one or warn me about the potential for addiction.”

By sharing his story, Ewing hopes to prevent more people from falling into the same trap that dictated four years of his life.

“Not long after I had decided to stop getting surgeries, I saw the first doctor I met with on a talk show and then in a magazine article, giving tips on getting cosmetic surgery,” he writes. “Well, this is written to counter his influence. Before seeking to change your face, you should question whether it is your mind that needs fixing.”

We are floored by Ewing’s honesty and bravery and we know his experience will help others experiencing the same thing. Read Ewing’s moving essay in its entirety here.

Related reading: 

Ariel Winter just shut down her Instagram shamers with this important reminder

[Image via ABC]

Advertisement