'Modern Family' star Reid Ewing on struggles with cosmetic surgery, body dysmorphia
MANILA, Philippines – Modern Family star Reid Ewing is speaking up about his battles with body dysmorphia and struggles with cosmetic surgery. The actor wrote about this in an essay published in the Huffington Post Blog on November 19.
Reid is best known for his role in Modern Family as the dim but lovable Dylan, the on-again, off-again boyfriend of the eldest Dunphy daughter, Haley.
Most recently, the pair got together in the show's 7th season, but broke up once again as Haley considers her feelings for Andy, played by Adam Devine.
In his essay, Reid says, "Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness in which a person obsesses over the way he or she looks. In my case, my looks were the only thing that mattered to me."
He then shared his experiences, saying that he first got cosmetic surgery in 2008. At the time, Reid had just started out in the acting world.
"I'd sit alone in my apartment and take pictures of myself from every angle, analyzing every feature," he wrote.
After he published the essay, he spoke to BBC's Newsbeat, explaining, "For me it felt like, you know, changing my face wasn't an option, it felt like it was something I literally had to do because I was like so ugly that there was no way I could live with myself." He added that he wanted to get hurt badly in a car crash just so doctors could reconstruct his face.
For his first surgery, his doctor encouraged Reid to get procedures done on his face for his career, and suggested he get cheek implants. Reid was 19 at the time, and "genuinely believed if [he] had one procedure [he] would suddenly look like Brad Pitt." (READ: 'I was told I was fat and lost my job': A TV host speaks up)
Instead, Reid went through shock and confusion. He describes waking up screaming and crying after the operation, then hiding out for weeks until it was time to take his bandages off and the swelling stopped.
"After all the swelling finally went down, the results were horrendous," he shared. "The lower half of my cheeks were as hollow as a corpse's, which, I know, is the opposite of what you'd expect, as they are called cheek implants. They would be more aptly called cheekbone implants."
To remedy his first surgery, Reid went to another doctor, but this one, he said, was less qualified. "Only a few days passed when I noticed I could move the chin implant under my skin, easily moving it from one side of my face to another."
After remedying his mistake, the surgeon and Reid had a "heart-to-heart conversation," where Reid found out that the doctor was fighting two lawsuits at the time.
Reid went to two other doctors after that, using his money from acting, and borrowed money from his parents and grandmother, "when [he] was most desperate."
"Each procedure would cause a new problem that I would have to fix with another procedure," he said. "Anyone who has had a run-in with bad cosmetic surgery knows this is true."
By this time, Reid was 20 years old and already filming for Modern Family. "Most of the times I was on camera were when I'd had the numerous implants removed and was experimenting with less-noticeable changes to my face, like injectable fillers and fat transfers. None of them last very long or are worth the money."
Eventually, in 2012, Reid decided to stop getting cosmetic surgery, though he was "still deeply insecure about [his] looks."
Reid explained that he wrote his essay to shed more light on body dysmorphia. "It's a problem that is rarely taken seriously because of the public shaming of those who have had work done," he said. "The secrecy that surrounds cosmetic surgery keeps the unethical work practiced by many of these doctors from ever coming to light."
He also addressed the lack of proper health screenings when it comes to these types of procedures. "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. My history with eating disorders and the cases of obsessive compulsive disorder in my family never came up," he wrote. (READ: Alone together: how to battle depression through support)
"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," he added.
"Plastic surgery is not always a bad thing," Reid admitted at the end of his essay. "It often helps people who actually need it for serious cases, but it's a horrible hobby, and it will eat away at you until you have lost all self-esteem and joy."
Today, he wishes he could "go back and undo all the surgeries:" "Now I can see that I was fine to begin with and didn't need the surgeries after all."
On Twitter, Reid expressed his hope that his story will "help people reevaluate their self-image."
So many people have contacted me via Twitter with supportive things to say.Really cool. I hope it helps people reevaluate their self-image— Reid Ewing (@media_reid) November 20, 2015
When asked for a message to the people reading his essay and listening to his interview on BBC, Reid said, "[My message is] that I am over it, and I think that is part of the message to them. It took me 6 months before I was even comfortable with people even looking at me." He recounts how he would have to keep reminding himself that "people have more worth than their looks."
Three years after deciding to stop getting cosmetic surgery, Reid Ewing now has a more positive self-image. "Now I'm 27, I'm happy, I like, I care about my looks, I'm even insecure about my looks like all people usually are to some extent, but it's not completely ruining my life," he told BBC. – Rappler.com