Body image is not just a woman’s worry. Modern society is obsessed with the perfect body and it’s a sickness we must stop.
Anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia. These are terms usually associated with today’s media-damaged young ladies. However, in recent times, these same terms have started to become used by various medical professionals to describe young, image-obsessed men who have been socialised from young into body dysmorphic disorder.
In a recent study commissioned by Succeed Foundation, a eating disorders charity, Dr Philippa Diedrichs from the centre of appearance research at the University of the West of England found that 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their lives for a perfect body if they could. This study also found that men are highly anxious about their bodies.
A TODAY/AOL Body Image survey conducted in the United States also found similar results, with 63% of men saying that that “always feel like they could lose weight”. In fact, over half of the men surveyed said that they ranked their appearances above their health, family, relationships and careers.
It is clear that the male body dysmorphia is a neglected topic, in large part due to the male ego. For men, the measure of manhood and “maleness” comes traditionally from a sense of physical prowess. Men measure themselves based on standards like muscularity, chest size, biceps and other body parts. In fact, research suggests that many men have the common dissatisfaction with muscularity. Such dissatisfaction is linked to lower quality of life, higher substance abuse rates and attempted suicide.
So what are some things men should do to combat this issue?
Recognise that not everybody gets to look like an A&F Model
Know that you’re born different from those buff and muscular men standing half-naked along Orchard Road. You have lived a completely different life from David Beckham and have an environment that is dissimilar to Christiano Ronaldo’s. Recognise that your manhood is not defined by their looks.
Give it a higher purpose.
The first thing men have to do is to give our weight loss, muscle training and eating choice a purpose higher than just looking good. Instead, we should be asking ourselves if there is a positive physical or psychological benefit to every exercise and eating decision we make. Aim for lasting, positive change and look to feel better, not just look better.
Check yourself of Self-Destructive Behaviours
All men need to check themselves for any of the following self-destructive behaviours:
- Fad dieting: Participating in the current “trendy” diet.
- Eating Disorders: Anorexia, bulimia, etc
- Exercise Dependence: You are psychologically or physically addicted to exercise
- Steroid Abuse: You are using muscle-enhancing drugs for no good reason
If you know you’re exhibiting any of these behaviours, or know someone who does, seek help from a medical professional.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work out or try our best to get fit. Rather, I’m saying that we all have to understand that the beauty standards for men are beginning to become more unrealistic for men, just as they have been for women in the past three decades. As a society, we have to begin to look at the young men who are inducing vomiting after meals, working out obsessively or using steroids.
Male Body Image Issues are real and men all across the world are facing this issue. Let’s stop this for our own sakes.
This article was originally written for publication on Daily Vanity. Visit them for more awesome articles!