Woman Convinced She Has A Nonexistent Facial Tumor Shows What Living With Body Dysmorphia Is Like

'It was the first time I ever realized that I was beautiful.'

Everyone has something they don't particularly like about their appearance — be it a crooked nose, their "not pearly white enough" teeth, big forehead, missing thigh gap, etc. 

But not just that. We also tend to fixate on these flaws, putting them into the center of attention, often inflating a problem that don't matter that much or don't even exist. Because let's be honest — your split hair ends aren't visible to anyone but YOU.

But for some people, dissatisfaction with their looks doesn't stem from vanity, but rather a disorder.

Meet Rotherham, England-based artist Leigh de Vries, who lives with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) — a condition that warps the way people perceive their appearance.

In other words, people living with BDD tend to obsess over an insignificant or nonexistent defect in their looks, isolate themselves, even undergo plastic surgeries to fix perceived imperfections ...

De Vries has been dealing with this her entire life: every time this beautiful young woman looks in the mirror, she sees a huge tumor that weighs down the right side of her face. A tumor that doesn't exist.

"As a life time sufferer of BDD I have always believed myself to be severely deformed," de Vries writes on her website.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, people with body dysmorphia don't believe others saying they look fine, their negative thoughts are very hard to control and often lead to emotional distress, low self-esteem, even suicide attempts.

In de Vries' case, she developed this crippling, all-consuming mental condition in her early teens and says she used to exclude herself from the community as to not scar other people by showing them her "abnormality."

However, de Vries thinks people should be talking and learning more about body dysmorphia, so she took it upon herself to educate the society on this peculiar mental health condition. 

De Vries started a project titled 'Exposure — The Broken Reality Tunnel,' which offers viewers the possibility of navigating through the mind of a BDD sufferer.

The project consists of an installation and a movie starring the artist herself. In the film, she hits the streets donning a prosthetic tumor, trying to capture other people's reactions to her appearance.

Made with the help of makeup artist Shaune Harrison, the artificial tumor represents the way de Vries sees herself.

Although it was one of the scariest things in her life, de Vries says the experience turned out to be life-changing: 'When I took the prosthetic off it was the first time I ever realized that I was beautiful,' she told Dazed Digital.

Leigh de Vries hopes her project puts a spotlight on conditions like body dysmorphic disorder and takes the "shame" out of it. She has also started a Youth Outreach Campaign willing to help young people battling BDD.

To learn more about her initiative, visit mybrokenreality.com

(H/T: Dazed Digital)