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Men Have Body Image Problems Too - Understanding Male Body Image Disorders

written by: Roohi Khan • edited by: jen2008 • updated: 8/20/2010

Male body image disorders do indeed exist. Women are not the only ones who have problems with body image or the way they perceive their appearance. Men have these problems too. Read more about the body image problems in men and how common they are.

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    Researchers have acknowledged the fact that male body image disorders are indeed quite common. Body image is the attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts that an individual has about his or her own physical appearance. Constantly being bombarded with pictures of muscular men with perfect looking features has shown its effects and men are now succumbing to various eating disorders and body-image related disorders. Here we look at some of the common body image problems in men.

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    Common Body Image Problems in Men

    Some of the most common body image problems found in men include anorexia, bulimia, and body dysmorphic disorder.

    Men want to look thin. So, they begin to cut down on their calorie intake to the extent that it becomes extreme and obsessive. This is the nature of anorexia nervosa. The dieting in men becomes so excessive that it causes major health issues such as decreased muscle and bone mass and a decrease in testosterone levels.

    Bulimia is another common eating disorder found in men. Here they eat everything they want and then as they get overwhelmed with guilt, they vomit the food out or use laxatives. This behavior of excessive eating and purging can cause major health issues.

    Although they may have average weight, men with anorexia and bulimia perceive themselves as fat. These disorders are especially common in men who are involved in sports requiring a lean body such as gymnastics or dancing.

    Compulsive exercising is another problem that is on the rise. Weight lifting or resistance training can be taken to the extreme in an attempt to avoid getting fat and maintaining optimum muscle mass. When taken to the extreme, compulsive exercising can weaken the immune system and damage the joints.

    Then there is body dysmorphic disorder in men. These men are constantly preoccupied with defects in their appearance that may not be there or may be quite minimal. There may be an excessive concern about their skin, nose, hair, or genitals.

    Body dysmorphic disorder usually takes the form of muscle dysmorphia in males, where the individual is obsessed with having a perfectly muscular body. They look at themselves in the mirror and see a skinny and small man. This may, however, not be true since most of these men have a muscular built. They indulge in excessive exercising and abuse of steroids for the purpose of building more muscle mass.

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    How Common are Body Image Problems in Men

    Studies have shown that body image disorders in men are on the rise. Men in college are reporting greater levels of dissatisfaction with their body and consider muscle definition as important for attractiveness. Obsessive feelings of inadequacy, failure, and unattractiveness have lead to an increase in eating disorders in men.

    The objectification and sexualization of the male body in the media has led to the perception that the ideal body is muscular. So, the rise in the number of cases of muscle dysmorphia is no surprise.

    The fact that disorders related to body image in men are quite common is further proven by an increase in the amount being spent by men on exercise equipments, hair transplants, grooming aids, and cosmetic surgeries. There has also been an increase in the number of men who are into exercising. The amount being spent on procedures such as penal implants has also gone up.

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    Treatment of Body Image Problems in Men

    The earlier the treatment given for male body image disorders, the better is the prognosis. The goal of treatment is to correct the body image distortions. Cognitive behavior therapy is the most commonly used way of improving self-esteem and developing a positive body image. This may be combined with medications for treating depression or obsessive-compulsive disorders along with a good nutritional plan.

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    References

    Milwaukee School of Engineering: Body Image Dissatisfaction: A Growing Concern Among Men

    http://www.msoe.edu/life_at_msoe/current_student_resources/student_resources/counseling_services/newsletters_for_mental_health/body_image_dissatisfaction.shtml Askmen.com: Male Body Image Disorders

    http://www.askmen.com/money/body_and_mind_150/163_better_living.html

    BrainPhysics.com: Body Image & Eating Disorders in Males

    http://www.brainphysics.com/muscle-dysmorphia.php

    Missouri Western State University: Body image: How you see it, how you don`t

    http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/93.php

    HealthyPlace.com: Eating Disorders: Men Have Body Image Problems Too

    http://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders/main/eating-disorders-men-have-body-image-problems-too/menu-id-58/

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