Lindi Ortega: 'Music helps me cope with body dysmorphic disorder'

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Lindi Ortega's new album is a musical movie noir, inspired by Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks and the movies of Quentin Tarantino.

Over 15 tracks and three acts, it follows a character on the journey from a bleak place where "daylight never comes", to one of hope and liberation.

While the story is fictional, it mirrors Ortega's own personal struggle, which she revealed in a frank and compelling essay earlier this month.

Titled In the Mirror, a Fractured Reflection, it described the singer's affliction with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and how it had affected both her career and her personal life.

"My self-image grew so distorted that I actually convinced myself I was deformed," said the 37-year-old, a two-time winner at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

"People often ask me where my dark, lonely songs come from. This is that place."

Ortega went on to describe her horror at having her photograph taken and how she started wearing veils and wide-brimmed hats on stage to hide her face.

But, she said, music ultimately helped her confront the condition.


Spend hours in front of a mirror, sometimes picking at skin to make it smooth

Make extensive attempts to camouflage perceived defects

Feel anxious around others and avoid social situations

Obsessively cut or comb hair to make it 'just so'

"Even on the days when I've felt particularly ugly, I still have to go on stage and sing my heart out for the fans," she wrote.

According to mental health charity MIND, BDD can touch every aspect of your life, including work, social life and relationships. It can also lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide.

Statistics suggest that up to one in 50 people suffer from the condition, Ortega tells the BBC, adding: "I'm assuming that there's even more that don't talk about it."

That's why, five albums into her career, she finally felt confident to tell her fans her story.

"I was nervous to talk about it before for a number of reasons," she tells the BBC.

"Earlier on [in my career] I was still suffering very heavily from it, so I didn't think I was in a position to offer any kind of advice.

"But I also didn't want to be known as 'the singer with body dysmorphic disorder' - so it took until this time in my life to be able to speak about it."

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