The 27-year-old reflected on her past insecurities, and what helps her in these moments, in a recent Instagram post, which included photos of herself as well as throwback photos of her famous mother.
In the post, Willis began by sharing some of the things it took her “way too long to realise,” including that “ageing happens without your control, time passes and your face can change,” and that she “punished” herself for too long for not resembling her mother.
“I punished myself for not looking like my mom, after being told I was BW [Bruce Willis’s] twin since birth - I resented the resemblance as I believed wholly my ‘masculine’ face was the sole reason for my unlovability - FALSE!” she continued. “I was/am inherently valuable and worthy, at any life stage, at any size, with any hair do! (As are you).”
The fashion designer also said she has learned that you need to “soothe the wound within your soul” before you can “fix” the outsides, before acknowledging to her more than 344,000 followers the validity of body dysmorphia.
“Be mindful of the special and impressionable minds around you and their access to social media and potential triggering imagery or the indicators that hyper-focusing on one’s appearance goes deeper than just wanting to feel good in their own skin,” she wrote. “we all want to feel good, and confident but when it creeps into a deeper, spookier place where it begins to devour your essence bit by bit, ask for help.
“Do not feel ashamed, this is not a ‘stupid, vain issue’ this is a genuine psychological pain and I see you so clearly and witness the validity in your struggle.”
In the post, Willis then went on to share some of the things that she does to help her in moments where she can feel herself spiralling, such as placing a towel over her mirror or taking her mirrors down, and taking social media breaks.
Willis also recommended reading, taking a bath, going for a walk and listening to music, and having a “safe person, circle or community” that can help you “vocalise the triggering moment/current obsession/spiral”.
The actress’s final recommendations for those who find themselves suffering with body dysmorphia were to write and then burn it and to breathe.
“Word vomit EVERYTHING that is gurgling within your mind onto a piece of paper and then tear it up or burn it. Let it flow out of you and no longer take up the precious space in your mind,” she advised, before encouraging those struggling to breathe and remember that “you are allowed to take things five minutes at a time”.
The candid post prompted an outpouring of supportive comments from Willis’s fans and followers, including body positivity activist Tess Holliday, who wrote: “Love you.”
Willis’s mother Moore also responded, writing: “Beautifully realised. Beautifully expressed. Beautiful to witness.”
Others expressed their gratitude to Willis for using her platform in a positive way, with someone else commenting: “Such important advice and such an invaluable way to use your voice. Amazing and inspiring. I hope my 13-year-old daughter looks to role models like yourself for how to deal with being human in this crazy world.”
This is not the first time Willis has been transparent about her issues with self-acceptance and body image, as she revealed in March that she experienced a moment where she’d “slipped up on some deeply wounding negative self talk, ancient narratives resurfaced and the noggin goblin I thought I had banished for at least a few more months had resumed his banshee like screeches”.
At the time, Willis reflected on the insecurities she experienced as a 13-year-old, using the opportunity to acknowledge that “that 13 year old still deserves to be seen, even all these years later”.
According to the Mayo Clinic, BDD is a mental health disorder “in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance - a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others,” with the International OCD Foundation noting that about one in 50 people are affected by the disorder.