imagined ugliness
n. An irrational dislike for all or part of one's physical appearance.
Also Seen As
Shirley, who admits she suffered from an imagined ugliness syndrome as she was growing up, has finally come to terms with her looks after being chosen to model for Calvin Klein. The gangly, pale-skinned star graced a poster campaign for the designer.
—John Dingwal, “I'm only happy when I'm at home says Garbage star Shirley,” Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), June 22, 2001
People who have plastic surgery because they are unhappy with their appearance may be better off seeking psychological treatment, research has shown.

Cosmetic surgery corrections for minor defects or "imagined ugliness" are unlikely to produce results which satisfied the patient's perceived needs, says Dr Steven Kisley, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Western Australia. …

People seeking cosmetic surgery are six times more likely to have psychological distress than those with medical reasons.

"This condition is called dismorphic [sic] concern, or in layman's term imagined ugliness," Dr Kisley says. These people have a minor defect, but it still creates huge amounts of distress and increases the extent to which they withdraw from social contact.
—Patrick McDonald, “Plastic surgery is no cure for the psychologically distressed,” The Advertiser, May 26, 2001
1991 (earliest)
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder; but so, alas, is its opposite. As a result, thousands of Americans — including a sizable fraction of those who have elective plastic surgery — may be suffering from delusions of "imagined ugliness," according to a report in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

The condition, known as "body dismorphic disorder," is characterized by obsession with an imagined flaw: An overly large nose, "devious-looking" eyebrows, a "stretched" mouth or undersized genitals are common examples. It can last for years, often accompanied by severe depression, suicidal behavior, social withdrawal, repeated visits to plastic surgeons and "frequent mirror checking."
—Curt Suplee, “Psychiatry: Surgery for 'Imagined Ugliness',” The Washington Post, September 16, 1991
Imagined ugliness (or imagined ugliness syndrome) is the more accessible synonym for body dysmorphic disorder (1987) or BDD, which for many years was called dysmorphophobia (1900). Another synonym is dysmorphic concern (2001), which is mentioned (although misspelled) in the second example citation. Studies have shown that imagined ugliness is similar to anorexia nervosa in that both are caused in part by a delusional body image. But whereas the anorexic attempts to alter their body image by not eating, the sufferer of imagined ugliness most often takes the more direct route of cosmetic surgery. And, yes, at least one psychiatrist (and, probably more than a few armchair psychiatrists) has fingered imagined ugliness as the culprit behind Michael Jackson's obsessive facial sculpting.