Think Again…Body Image Isn’t a Girl Thing
When we are asked to describe male traits, what words usually come to mind? Some would say “strong, tough, unemotional, powerful, aggressive, broad, fit, handsome”, and “protective.” These are just some of the words that society labels what the ideal man should be like.
Typically, women are the target for the ideal body as determined by society. This does not mean that men do not feel targeted as well. In fact, because we label men as “strong,” and “unemotional,” they may not be able to express the difficulties of living up to the male standard. According to consumer health digest, the societal expectations for men can lead to over exercising, steroid use, and body dysmorphia. One common trait that may go unrecognized in males with eating disorders would be preoccupation with body building, weight lifting, or muscle toning. This is because men think this is the way to achieve the “perfect body” and society might dismiss this as a normal masculine behavior.
Because men are supposed to be “strong,” it is less likely for them to come forward as having a problem. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), half as many men will suffer from a clinically diagnosed eating disorder in their life as compared to women. Although this statistic shows that less men will have eating disorders than women, it also reveals that men do indeed suffer from eating disorders. Seemingly, body image isn’t a girl thing anymore.
Brian Cuban was one of these men. He experienced extensive fat-shaming as a child, which caused chronic shame and eventually led to an eating disorder. At the time he struggled the most, there was very little recognition of eating disorders, let alone for men with eating disorders. Brian felt that male stereotypes dictated that men could not talk about body shame, “Boys play sports. Boys fight back. Boys become men.”
I’m a Man, And I’ve Spent My Life Ashamed of My Body
In Tyler Kingkade’s article in the Huffington Post, he talks about being a male and struggling with his body image. He never felt as though the way he looked was good enough. When he would express to others his dissatisfaction with his body, he would be told to “Hit the gym.” Tyler spoke with David LaPorte, a psychology professor, who found that 1/5 of the men at a gym, considered to be in “good shape”, would not be comfortable taking their shirts off. This was no different for Tyler who often made excuses to avoid social situations where he would need to take his shirt off. He would compare himself to men with “better physiques” than himself. According to Dr. Blashill, “folks with body image concerns tend to engage in social comparison, usually upward comparison,” or comparison of oneself to someone “more attractive.” This is a more common phenomenon than we might think. Tyler found that many of his male coworkers also had reservations about their own body images.
Tyler’s struggle with his body image should not be surprising. He contributes his own insecurities to the fact that “contemporary masculinity does not permit a man to admit his physique is less than ideal.” He believes that if men were able to express their concerns about their bodies, they would be able to accept their bodies for the way they are. It is important to start recognizing that eating disorders are not exclusive to females, and that equal support should be given to both genders suffering from poor body image.
Body Image Isn’t a Girl Thing Anymore, So Call Us Now!
If you or someone you know are suffering from an eating disorder, contact the Center for Discovery immediately for a FREE assessment.The symptoms of eating disorders can pose serious health risks, and recovery is an ongoing process. The time to call is NOW so call 800.760.3934. All calls are completely FREE and strictly confidential. The Center for Discovery’s integrated and personalized behavior modification programs offer years of experience in successfully helping clients and their families develop effective strategies for recovery.
Huffington Post. I’m a Man and I’ve Spent My Life Ashamed of my Body. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
Huffington Post. Take One Step Forward for Male Eating Disorders. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Research on Males and Eating Disorders. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
Consumer Health Digest. Body Shaming on Men. Retrieved August 31, 2016.