Why Clayton Echard Says Sharing Personal Body Dysmorphia Journey Is His "Sense of Purpose"

In an exclusive interview with E! News, The Bachelor’s Clayton Echard shared how he prioritized his mental health after stepping away from reality TV.

By Mike Vulpo, Amanda Williams Oct 06, 2022 11:07 PMTags
Watch: Selena Gomez & More Stars Who Opened Up About Mental Health in 2020

Clayton Echard knows what you may be thinking.

How could the lead of The Bachelor feel insecure or lack confidence when dozens of girls are fighting for his attention and affection? But during his journey on ABC's reality show, the 29-year-old shared his personal struggles with body dysmorphia disorder and quickly realized he wasn't alone.

"I had a really positive response," Clayton exclusively told E! News. "A lot of people were in my DMs telling me, ‘I'm a man and I also struggle with this' and women said, ‘Hey, it's so great to see men are talking about this and we struggle with this as well.' I realized from that point on that it's my sense of purpose."

Now, Clayton is using his platform to raise awareness about his experience with the disorder, described by the Mayo Clinic as a condition 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. 

Since learning about his condition, Clayton said he has begun focusing more on what he can control instead of what's out of his hands.

Stars Who Took Steps to Prioritize Mental Health

"For one, I said, ‘If I don't like the way I look, is there any way that I can take healthy measures into my own hands to see if there's a way I can better manage it?'" he recalled. "I started exercising more. I started really taking my diet seriously and that helped because I started to lower my body fat percentage, which then visually I was like, ‘I like the way I look.' But then I felt, 'How can I now control this if I'm always going to live with it?'"

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Most recently, Clayton teamed up with ADAA, or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, to share his experience. He also used the nonprofit to find online support groups and other resources like webinars and therapists.

"We all have our own struggles," he said. "If I can make a difference…then it's worth it."

During season 26 of The Bachelor, viewers watched Clayton fall in love with Susie Evans. During the season finale, the former NFL player sent her home, only to change his mind at the last minute. While their love story continued off-air after the pair rekindled their romance, Clayton and Susie announced their break up in September.

Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

When reflecting on love and dating, Clayton believes BDD had an impact on his most recent relationship.

"I struggle with the body dysmorphia, but I also struggle with this change of pace in my life for this uncertainty, the unknown of what lies ahead," he said. "My dysmorphia essentially just piled on top of the other struggles I was already facing with the show and kind of having a self-identity crisis from it. It made it really hard for me to just be my own happier former self prior to the whole experience."

Today, Clayton is focused less on dating and more on helping others. And when the mental health speaker is ready to hand out a rose to a special someone, he knows he will be in a better space.

"I'm not looking to date right now. I'm not mentally healed," he said. "I can't even fathom seeing anybody in that light right now. I think I'm really just taking this time to focus on myself. If I'm not healed, then I can't allow anybody else to be a part of my life." 

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