The unrealistic pursuit of the ‘perfect’ body is an epidemic among men not just women
I’m sure one (or more) of the following statements speaks to each and every one of us, female OR male…
I’m too short
I’m too tall
I’m too skinny
I’m too fat
I’m too small
I’m too big
I need a flat stomach
I need more muscles
Sound familiar? Yeah, I know, I’ve looked in a mirror recently too; welcome to the club.
Negative body image is so widespread that it’s reaching epidemic levels, and it’s a gender-neutral issue that needs to be talked about.
While society is more aware of the pressure women are under to meet unrealistic beauty standards, it continues to largely ignore the very same pressure that men are under to look like some sort of superhero too.
And because as men we don’t talk about, the disorder often goes undiagnosed, which is when it becomes ever more dangerous for our physical and mental health. These guys over at the University of Sydney in Australia have done the research on it.
The irrational logic of body dysmorphia (the science term) – or “bigorexia” as it is otherwise known among males – is simple: if you have the hyper-masculine body then everything else in your life will work out too – you’ll get the job you want, you’ll get the partner you want.
Right? WRONG. SO WRONG.
The word M-U-S-C-U-L-A-R-I-T-Y might look and sound like M-A-S-C-U-L-I-N-I-T-Y but they’re not the same thing. Really, they’re not. He’s some hard truths for you:
1) Barbie & Ken aren’t real people
2) That photo you saw in that magazine that made you think ‘that’s the body I want’, well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s almost definitely Photoshopped or airbrushed
3) You’ve never looked as good as you do right now. Seriously, I mean it
The problem is that even if we know the above to be true, most of us fail to really believe it and as a result strive to live up to an unrealistic male ideal that we’re never going to meet.
It’s safe to assume that we’re all riddled by insecurities – some people are just better at hiding it than others.
So, to build a culture where these issues are talked about, here are five potential signs that you, or one of your friends may have body image issues that may be doing untold damage to body and/or mind:
- Eating disorders, or sudden diet change
- Extreme exercising
- Sudden change in body shape
- Talk of steroid/substance use
- Regular self-criticism
And here are five things that we encourage to help tackle it:
- Don’t suffer in silence – talk to people you trust about it
- Start embracing imperfection, both in yourself and in others – it’s what makes us unique!
- Remember you’re not a superhero – save that it for your Halloween outfit
- Tell people that you’re uncomfortable with certain words if they use them to describe your physical appearance
- Promote body-positivity among friends