People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often change their appearance for a variety of reasons. Some people with BPD may feel like they don’t know who they are or what they like, and they may use changes in their appearance as a way to try to figure out who they are. Others may use changes in their appearance to try to control how others perceive them. Still, others may use changes in their appearance as a way to cope with emotional pain or to feel more in control of their lives.
There is no one right way to understand why people with BPD change their appearance. It is important to remember that everyone with BPD is different and that there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for why they might make changes to their appearance. If you are concerned about someone you know who has BPD and is changing their appearance, it is important to talk to them about it and offer support. You can also encourage them to seek professional help if they need it. But getting back to the question here are some of the main reasons why people with BPD change their appearance:
To try to figure out who they are.
People with BPD often have a very unstable sense of self. They may feel like they don’t know who they are or what they like. They may use changes in their appearance as a way to try on different identities and see what feels right.
To try to control how others perceive them.
People with BPD often have a very strong fear of rejection. They may use changes in their appearance as a way to try to control how others perceive them. They may think that if they look a certain way, others will like them more.
To cope with emotional pain.
People with BPD often experience intense emotional pain. They may use changes in their appearance as a way to cope with this pain. They may think that if they look a certain way, they will feel better about themselves.
To feel more in control of their lives.
People with BPD often feel like they have very little control over their lives. They may use changes in their appearance as a way to feel more in control. They may think that if they can control how they look, they can control other aspects of their lives.
Jen Granger a self-proclaimed survivor of BPD for over 40 says this: “It’s a cross between creativity (people w/ BPD tend to be on the creative side for whatever reason) and an unconscious reaction to our unstable sense of self. I tend to mimic people I click with, usually without even realizing it. I never liked the yoga-pants look or jeggings, but then I became close friends with someone who lived in yoga pants, leggings and jeggings. Next thing I knew my wardrobe was filled with leggings and boho shirts. It doesn’t even have to come from a person. If I get hooked on a certain genre of music, my looks tend to reflect it. My hair has been every colour under the sun.”
“That is both my creative side and my impulsive side coming into play. Same thing with chopping all my hair off in the spur of the moment. I’ll be in one of my impulsive modes and the next thing I know I have a pixie cut that’s dyed the opposite of whatever colour I had before. There have been times when I’ve woken up the following day with no memory of colouring or cutting my hair (from being in a dissociative state). My natural hair colour is strawberry blonde and I only recently went back to it. It had been over 20 years since I had my natural hair colour. As I think about it, I believe it’s another way to feel connected and to hopefully (in our minds) keep people from leaving us. I have to say this though, out of all the traits of BPD, this is one I don’t mind.”