Men, Muscles, & Masculinity

Comment: There are plenty of research studies completed on women and their struggles with body image, but men are looked at less often even though they struggle with the same issues. This recent research study looks at the driving forces behind men’s desire to lose weight or to ‘get bigger,’ otherwise known as muscle dysmorphia. The results of this study contradict a theory believed in the past.
Do you agree that today’s society pressures men to be more muscular? How are men responding to this?


Research: Over the last few decades, research has shown that more and more men are unhappy with their body image. Men may either have the desire to lose weight and become thinner, or to gain weight and become more muscular. Often times, this becomes harmful when the man eats unhealthily, abuses steroids, or develops a compulsive relationship with exercise. Sometimes this can even override normal life resulting in loss of sleep, quality of life, and even an inability to hold a normal job.

This recent study shows a different motivation for men’s desire for a better body. It was previously thought that sexual confusion was the main reason for body dysmorphia in men, but this study suggests that how men view themselves is more important. (Muscle dysmorphia is a disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with the idea that they are not muscular enough, or too small.)

Researchers from the Australian National University and University of Sydney used a questionnaire to find how the male participants viewed themselves compared to culturally accepted stereotypes of masculine thoughts and behaviours. The results showed that men with a high drive for muscularity (muscle dysmorphia) had a stronger preference for traditional masculine roles, while men with a high desire for thinness displayed great adherence to traditional feminine roles.

Dr. Stuart Murray concluded with explaining that this study indicates the increasing pressure men are under to define their masculinity in the modern world. It does not mean that men with anorexia are any more feminine, nor men with muscle dysmorphia are any less feminine.

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