Being exposed to the entertainment industry's beauty standards for half her life has not been easy for Alexa Ilacad. On Pinoy Big Brother, the actress opened up about how it led her to harbor insecurities about her weight, to the point where it heavily affected her mental health.
"Starting as a kid, I was never the thin type. My body was really different from all the other girls [in the industry] that made me hate myself. I tried all kinds of diets, and workouts, everything," she admitted during a confession room session.
"I've been told so many things, like hindi ka kinukuha sa ganitong show kasi mataba ka, 'yung love team niyo mukha kayong number 10. Ikaw yung zero. Maybe just having had to go through that for so long led to this."
Despite the severity of her situation, Alexa said she tries not to discuss the matter with anyone to avoid being judged. "Honestly, it sounds so petty. I feel like a hypocrite feeling this way and I hate telling people that I feel this way. It's like a wound in my heart that never heals and when you touch it you feel how painful it is."
Alexa's insecurities have manifested in her habits as well. She told fellow housemate Eian Rances, "Hindi mo ba nakikita after kumain sinisilip ko yung tiyan ko sa salamin? Every morning, una kong ginagawa tinitignan ko yung sarili ko sa salamin tapos malulungkot ako kasi hindi ko gusto yung nakikita ko."
Fortunately, after struggling silently for years, Alexa has began seeking the help she needs. She consulted the show's in-house psychologist, Dr. Randy Dellosa, who diagnosed the actress with major depressive disorder caused by body dysmorphia.
According to Dr. Dellosa, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an "elevated feeling of insecurity" and a dislike for one's physical appearance. "Sa normal insecurities natin na-bobother nga tayo, na-di-disturb, pero we can let it go. Whereas sa BDD doon sila obsessed, doon sila nagfo-focus," he explains.
BDD could be caused by environmental or situational factors, such as being in the entertainment industry, the psychologist adds. "Alam naman nating may value 'yung physical na itsura, good looks, and siyempre nakakapagpressure 'yun sa tao, and sa taong may risk ng BDD lalong lumalakas pa dahil sa pressure to look good."
When it comes to helping someone with BDD, Dr. Dellosa advises people to listen to their words without passing judgement. Do not dismiss or minimize their concerns, which is the knee jerk reaction for many.
Telling her fellow housemates about her situation, Alexa said, "Obviously, I'm not healed, but I'm going through that process. Baby steps, getting the help that I need, and trying my best to look at myself in a different light."
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