How Does Body Image Distress Manifest in Men?
Recent research suggests that the number of men suffering from severe forms of body dissatisfaction has increased threefold in the last twenty-five years.
Unfortunately, many men fail to reveal their symptoms either because of shame, or unshakable belief that their perception of their body is accurate. This can result in feelings of isolation and difficulties in forming lasting relationships.
In the case of men, the preoccupations tend most frequently to be around the face or skin, such as acne scarring, hair loss or preoccupation around the size of their genitals.
Weight can also be a factor, as men with a naturally slight build may struggle to build muscle. Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder, also known as ‘Reverse Anorexia’ or ‘Bigorexia’, might result when men are extremely worried about whether their bodies are muscular or lean enough.
This can promote body image issues, which may lead to over-exercising, and the abuse of muscle building supplements or steroids.
Cases of bulimia and anorexia are growing in men of all ages, and an integral part of these disorders is a dissatisfaction with body shape and size.
Symptoms of Male Body Image Dissatisfaction
Here are some examples of how your thinking and behaviour may change as your body image dissatisfaction increases:
- You worry excessively about your body shape and may go to extremes to try and change it – muscle-building supplements or extreme diets.
- You obsess about small imperfections in your face, complexion and body.
- You compare your body unfavorably with others.
- You set yourself unrealistic goals and aspire to the body shapes you see in fashion magazines.
Male Body Image Distress
Adolescents are particularly sensitive about appearance, and serious body image issues may originate when the sufferer is a teenager.
The transition from childhood to puberty leads to several body changes, and this might have a negative impact on someone’s body perception, weight, and appearance. Teenagers are more influenced by social and peer criticism.
The media cultivates the idea that early development for teenage males, in terms of height, speed and strength, is admired by society. Therefore, delayed development is a big risk for body dissatisfaction.
Men who struggle to control their weight might be subject to depression and anxiety around their body shape. Obesity in men can lead to several physical and psychological problems, such as loose skin, erectile dysfunction, and low self-esteem, subsequently leading to body distress.
Aging in men can also create fear and anxiety around body shape changes. Baldness, sagging skin, and graying hair might cause body distress and feelings of shame around body image.
Our modern society and culture forces men to look in a certain way, thus people that do not adhere to this ideal ‘body portrait’ might experience feelings of failure, low self-worth and frustration.
How Can WeightMatters Help You?
Some men can find it difficult talking about how they feel. Cultural stigma about how men should be ‘manly’ and not talk about how they feel, can be barriers that stop men talking about their struggle with weight and their body.
At WeightMatters we understand how taking the first step to find support for many men is a big step to take. We are lucky to have several male therapists on our team, and sometime men can find it easier to talk to other men about their body image and how they feel about their weight.
All of our therapists want to understand how you feel about your body, and from this place we can support you in finding a new and better way of experiencing your weight and body.
Learn more about Male Body Image
Here are some articles and blogs about male body image