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Male body image issues

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male body image issues

Male body image issues

Body Image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically as well as how others perceive us. It is not just related to our weight but many other factors, including difficulty in accepting our body as it is, comparing ourselves with others and hiding your body as a result of being embarrassed.

“We knew that ‘body talk’ affected women and young people and now we know that it affects men too,” (Dr Phillippa Diedrichs University of West England)

The truth

At some stage in our lives, we have all worried about our body image regardless of gender and it can affect us emotionally, mentally and physically. The problem begins when it goes too deep, is impacting on our day-to-day living, affecting our mental health which can lead to detrimental health consequences.

The assumption is that it is women who are affected by body image and predominantly research tends to focus on body image in women, but did you know according to the Mental Health Foundation millions of men in the UK have struggled with issues related to body image and it is becoming an increasing issue in today’s world.

Shocking statistics show that 1 in 5 dress to hide their body parts as well as experiencing negative thoughts and being compared to others and 11% have experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of their body image. Consequently, issues related to body image are becoming more apparent in men leading to more risks in their mental health and a lot of the time they feel they are unable to be open about it and to seek help.

The media

One of the drivers of body image is the media providing a negative impact on one’s mental health, whether it’s through social media, magazines, apps, reality tv shows or sports figures, we are consumed by the digital world which can play a huge role in portraying a negative impact on body image for men as well as women.

Many studies show a link between gaining muscle and harmful behavioural strategies, for example extreme dieting, use of steroids and a lot of it stems from the media where men feel they need to have an ideal body shape associated with muscularity (building muscle). Evidence shows that teenage boys and men are also suffering from pressures to reach this muscular ideal body shape and a certain percentage of body fat (body dysmorphia).

Research and studies have proven that body image is having a big impact on men’s mental health with an obsession in appearance, excessive exercise, extreme dieting and even cosmetic procedures as a result of celebrities and the media emphasising unrealistic ideals of body perfection and men competing with each other to reach this perfect so called ‘body image’.

The pandemic has also left men worrying about their body image more than ever, turning to Instagram and Facebook for workouts and again media being the main culprit; and this peer pressure for men to look a certain way.

Have you heard of body dissatisfaction? It means a negative perception of your body appearance and it can lead to serious health issues such as disordered eating, diet pills, use of steroids and poor mental health. Research shows that body dissatisfaction is related to anxiety and depression in adult males. Certain male characteristics portrayed by the media as an ‘ideal norm’ means men are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction.

Male body image issues – Raising awareness

We want men to be able to get help concerning their body image and feel at their best. No one should have to feel negative about the way they look and remember you are never alone; support is always out there.

Whilst there is a huge body positivity movement, for men they don’t really feel part of it. Whilst body image issues are greatly present in females, they are also prevalent in males, but it is not discussed in the same way. This is why we want to raise awareness on how body image can negatively impact on men.

Getting support

‘The world is full of a spectrum of shapes and sizes. And we should all be represented in the media because unless we see this, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist’ (YoungMinds)

 

Blog by Gopika Chandratheva

Registered Nutritionist

 

References

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/millions-men-uk-affected-body-image-issues-mental-health-foundation-survey

https://www.thecalmzone.net/2021/04/male-body-image/?highlight=body%20image

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/06/body-image-concerns-men-more-than-women

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-56904488

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0229268#sec006

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00495/full

Body image | YoungMinds