Broken Light: A Photography Collective

We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!

Body Dysmorphia

Photo taken by contributor Samantha Pugsley, a 24-year-old conceptual fine art photographer from Charlotte, North Carolina. She first picked up a camera during her junior year of college. This was right around the time when she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Things that were once easy became impossible for her. Getting dressed in the morning, shopping at the grocery story, driving her car…just living, was a panic attack waiting to happen. Photography helped her heal. With her camera she could start a conversation about what was going on in her head. She could say things with her images that she didn’t know how to say out loud. She still struggles with anxiety but making art helps her talk about it and manage it. She started a 365 photography project to ensure that she’d be doing what brings her joy every single day. She has noticed that her anxiety level is much lower if she spends time with her camera every day.

About this photo: “This photograph was very emotional for me. I suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. I’ve always seen my body as something to hate. Since I started taking self portraits, I’ve been learning to see my body as art instead of as my enemy. Shooting this image wasn’t as difficult as I expected, but when I opened it up on my computer to edit it, I felt compelled to alter my body and make it look thinner. I scrapped the first edited version because looking at the final product felt wrong. This concept demanded honesty and bravery. I overcame my body dysmorphia and left my body alone.

Find more from Samantha at her website or flickr.


**Visit Broken Light’s main gallery here. Currently accepting submissions.

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14 comments on “Body Dysmorphia

  1. Lady Pinkrose
    January 23, 2014

    How brave you are! More so then many!! Good for you!!! Love, Amy


  2. moorestorms
    January 23, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful and very inspiring how we should look at our bodies as art instead of something to be hated! I loved this post!!


  3. Greg Weber
    January 23, 2014

    Beautiful photo. It never ceases to amaze me how people who hate themselves are often attractive, talented, amazing human beings.


    • Lady Pinkrose
      January 23, 2014

      Greg, I am so glad you said that. I see over and over again, the extremely Gifted and Talented people that cross paths with me, and why is it, they just don’t seem to feel 100% confident in themselves, or their work is never good enough, or they aren’t pretty enough, or whatever? Why is that?

      And the thought occurred to me that many artists, have had very difficult lives in order to be able to express true emotion in their art. And of course this world does not encourage the Passion within any of us, no rather, it deliberately does its best to squash it. So, when the brave who insist to shine their Light and walk their Truth in spite of the world do so, that one usually has paid quite the price to do so.

      At least, that is how I perceive things. That is why I commented how brave Samantha is for doing this photograph. I am very grateful for WordPress for I am finding that the artists themselves form a bond, and tend to encourage each other. That is fantastic.

      On Thursday, January 23, 2014, Broken Light: A Photography Collective wrote:

      > Greg Weber commented: “Beautiful photo. It never ceases to amaze me > how people who hate themselves are often attractive, talented, amazing > human beings.”


  4. meticulousmick
    January 23, 2014

    A great image as is – no need for body edits. MM 🍀


  5. glanceobservecapture
    January 23, 2014

    This is a beautiful shot, I love the way the light is falling and I love the female form. X


  6. andreabehindglass
    January 23, 2014

    A beautiful picture!


  7. Paula McLane Jennings
    January 23, 2014

    wonderful job. And VERY brave. I too suffer from BDD and GAD and MDD so I totally know where you are coming from. I know that what I see in the mirror is not what is real but that is a very hard concept for someone not suffering from it to understand. I went through all of high school feeling like the invisable girl. Too tall, too fat. I shared that with one of the girls in my class at our 30th reunion. She said to me – were you nuts? We all wanted to be you. You had clear skin, long legs and a great body. But for me, the first remark made to me the day I started Kindergarten was by another child that told me I was too big and too fat and belonged in first grade. I spent all my school years feeling like I did not fit in anywhere. When you couple it with being sexually abused and raped at an early age I never saw myself as I truly am. It was only when I turned 49 that I started to feel ok being me. You are so blessed to have overcome your BDD while you still have so much of your life ahead of you. Bravo!


  8. bellmk
    January 23, 2014

    Great image! I wish that every photographer would follow suit, I’d love to see a little less BDD and a little more honesty in fashion magazines…I might actually start picking them up again 😀


  9. eLPy
    January 25, 2014

    This is a very artistic photo. The off-center image of you emphasizes the emptiness of the room. This says a lot about what it feels like to live with BDD, the only thing you can see is you there naked in the corner, hunched over, anxious and sad. Even as the light shines through the window you, this figure, remains in the shadows. Poetic. It is great that you did not go with the edited photo, this looks real and natural and beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you always find your way to the light.

    Take care,


  10. drcarolinetaylor
    January 25, 2014

    That is a powerful and brave image. Thank you for sharing.


  11. pawsitiveHeather
    January 27, 2014

    You are so brave. This picture, and your description gave me goosebumps (seriously, I’m not just saying that). You are beautiful.


  12. Tara
    January 30, 2014

    This is very brave of you. Thank you for allowing us into your world.


  13. themofman
    February 16, 2014

    Great explanation from Samantha, and a fabulous shot.


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