Artists Raise Awareness Of Body Dysmorphia

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on May 3, 2024

Artists Raise Awareness Of Body Dysmorphia

10 artists come together to tackle the theme of body dysmorphic disorder in new exhibition

Zebra One Gallery will be opening 'Identity', an exhibition exploring the themes of body dysmorphia on 24 November. 10 artists will be showcasing work that reflects on the way some people experience distorted perceptions when it comes to their appearance.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition that makes sufferers believe there is something wrong with their appearance. Often they will become preoccupied with a certain aspect of their appearance. They may spend a lot of time looking at their perceived flaw, worrying about it or going to extreme lengths to change or hide it.

Understandably, this condition has a huge impact on self-esteem and self-worth, and can lead to anxiety and depression.

Art and photography are often known for their beauty, with magazine photoshoots especially renowned for using photoshop to fake perfection. Contributing artist Scarlet Isherwood explains to the BBC why this can be damaging.

“Celebrities, especially on social platforms such as Instagram, are very glamorised, and also very warped and photoshopped, and I think people got used to seeing this unattainable figure, through these ideals that aren't really accessible to normal people.”

Isherwood says that she hopes the exhibition “allows people to step back and look at these things that aren't healthy, and be able to kind of see that there's nothing wrong with them”.


Isherwood’s artworks in the exhibition include lamb’s hearts decorated with butterflies and glitter. “I wanted the heart to represent people's actual feelings and their value and their self-esteem.

“And I wanted these butterflies to represent the media and self-image, taking control and eating everything, much like butterflies do in the wild.

“They feast on rotting meat if they can get to it. And I think as the condition grows, you do start to rot on the inside and you do start to feel worthless and horrible.”

Derrick Santini is another artist involved in the exhibition, his work includes portraits of Lady Gaga from 2009, before she became the global superstar we all know today. Speaking about the shoot, Santini says: “She knew what she wanted, she was really a pro, it was clear. She was so on her image and what she was doing all the time, there was no messing about.”

While Gaga is known for her strong sense of style and identity, she’s been open about her struggles with eating disorders in the past.

“She's had her issues with it, and I think it's kind of like the general thing about identity, we are all self-conscious, we are all documenting ourselves all the time,” Santini says.

Gabrielle Du Plooy, the gallery’s owner, came up with the idea for the exhibition earlier this year and started approaching artists to contribute.

There are now 10 artist contributing works, each with their own interpretations of the theme. Identity opens 24 November.

If you think you have body dysmorphic disorder, seeking mental health support from a counsellor can help. Learn more and find a counsellor at

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