Modern Family Star Opens Up About Battle With Body Dysmorphia

November 20th 2015

Taylor Bell

In an op-ed for the Huffington Post, "Modern Family" star Reid Ewing opened up about his former addiction to plastic surgery and battle with body dysmorphia disorder—which includes intrusive and uncontrollable negative thoughts and obsessions about a perceived flaw in one's appearance.


A photo posted by Reid Ewing (@reidoing) on

The actor known for his role as "Dylan," came to Los Angeles when he was a teenager to pursue a career in acting. But like many people in Hollywood, Ewing faced incredible pressure and insecurity about his looks. This insecurity led him to undergo a string of plastic surgery operations, the first of which was in 2008.

"I genuinely believed that if I had one procedure I would look like Brad Pitt." Ewing said.

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But the surgery didn't go the way he expected. He woke up screaming and crying from the pain. Then, immediately fearing that people would know his secret of plastic surgery, Ewing left Los Angeles and stayed at Joshua Tree where he could hide out for two weeks undetected.

"I stayed at a hotel doped up on hydrocodone. When the time came to take off the bandages, it was nothing like I had expected. My face was so impossibly swollen, there was no way I could make any excuse for it. So I planned to hide out in my apartment in LA for another week until the swelling was less dramatic." Ewing said.

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But once the swelling went down, Ewing still felt unsatisfied. He went back to the same doctor several times, demanding that the doctor fix his sunken-in appearance. When the doctor refused, Ewing began to explore other options.

"Unable to take this state of living, I began to seek out another doctor. The next one I found was even less qualified, but I didn't care; I just wanted out of my situation. I told him my story, and he suggested I get a chin implant. I asked if it would repair my sunken-in face, and he said I would be so happy with my looks it wouldn't matter to me. The same day he brought me into his back office and operated on me," Ewing said.

After the operation, again, Ewing was not happy with the results. It was from this point on, Ewing began to regularly pay for multiple plastic surgeries, each procedure revealing a new cosmetic flaw that he would have to "fix." The actor admitted he often tested different cosmetic looks during his time filming Modern Family.


It wasn't until the beginning of 2012 when Ewing's depression and self-loathing came to a head and he vowed he would never get plastic surgery again. According to the actor, it took months after this before he was finally able to be comfortable with his appearance.


Being secure about one's appearance is something people with body dysmorphia disorder (BDD) never feel.

BDD is more than just feeling a little self-conscious about a not so attractive birthmark or an uneven smile. Rather, it a high form of anxiety that disrupts a person's life, causing people to obsess over perceived flaws and imperfections for hours and days at a time according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In fact, researchers from a study in 2010 found abnormal brain activity when people with BDD viewed pictures of themselves, CNN reports.

Thoughts about perceived imperfections can be so severe in BDD sufferers that it also causes people to perform compulsive behaviors in order to quell their heightened level of anxiety. However, these actions fail to bring any permanent sense of relief, which would explain the need for many BDD sufferers to repeatedly get plastic surgeries.

After seeing the doctor that gave him his first cosmetic procedure back in 2008 on a talk show and in a magazine, Ewing felt compelled to speak out about BDD and plastic surgery.

"People with body dysmorphic disorder often become addicted to cosmetic surgery." Ewing said. "Gambling with your looks, paired with all the pain meds doctors load you up on, make it a highly addictive experience. It's a problem that is rarely taken seriously because of the public shaming of those who have had work done. The secrecy that surrounds cosmetic surgery keeps the unethical work practiced by many of these doctors from ever coming to light. I think people often choose cosmetic surgery in order to be accepted, but it usually leaves them feeling even more like an outsider. We don't hear enough stories about cosmetic surgery from this perspective."

In reflecting on his past plastic surgeries Ewing alluded to how important mental health is when contemplating plastic surgery.

"Before seeking to change your face, you should question whether it is your mind that needs fixing."

Currently one percent of the U.S. population suffers from BDD according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America.