The issue of body image is one that has risen in prevalence in today’s society. Pressure to become a perfect version of yourself is a worry that many faces. The positive body image is a rapidly growing movement with ambassadors such as social media personalities like Tess Holiday. This issue has influenced a new standard for beauty in fashion. Recently, France passed a bill to ensure that models used on the runway are within the healthy body mass index (BMI) range. In addition to this legislation, magazines must now declare if they have used photo-shopped images. The unrealistic aesthetics in the media are often commented upon due to their influence on eating habits, especially among young people.
Yes, this change gives us comfort; however, this newly found body confidence has been targeted at women while men are sometime seen to be forgotten. Muscular, Adonis-like images are continually shown as the epitome of masculine beauty. Unlike females, the focus is not becoming thinner but growing bigger and more toned. This coincides with a growing prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder within young males. This dysmorphia has manifested in a plethora of gym-obsessed Instagram and Twitter posts, yet the psychological implications are ignored. Due to the stereotypes placed on men, compulsions are viewed as a way of healthy living. These constraints include spending many hours in the gym, squandering excessive amounts of money on supplements, abnormal eating patterns, or using steroids. Unfortunately, men are traditionally reluctant to seek medical help. Therefore, data collected on male anorexia, bulimia and exercise dependence could be inaccurate and much higher than recorded.
The media reports that more than four in five men (80.7%) talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women. Similarly, 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body – again, a higher proportion than women. Further studies have revealed that some men resort to using laxatives or making themselves sick with 29% thinking about their appearance, at least, five times a day.
All of society is vulnerable to low self-esteem and poor body image, regardless of gender. An open dialogue needs to be had and men in general need to feel comfortable in expressing worry and concern about their wellbeing.
If you are being negatively affected by body image, noticing that you are overly focused on your body, or if you`re developing concerning behaviors, then you aren´t alone and professional help is available.
Treatment often includes a combination of strategies, including self-help. Many people find using self-help materials, such as books or computer programs, helpful in managing their symptoms. Many self-help materials are based on CBT principles, which have been shown to be particularly effective in treating body dysmorphic disorder. To start, speak to someone you trust about the feelings you are experiencing and consider keeping a thought diary to identify patterns of negative thoughts and associated behaviors. You may decide to use self-help materials alongside professional help, or you may use them to develop your own coping strategies.
Consider self-help or support groups, they offer an opportunity to meet up with other people who have body dysmorphic disorder. Going to a self-help group can help you feel less isolated and, at the same time, show how other people have coped with similar feelings and experiences. You can also access peer support groups online. This can be particularly useful if there are times you don’t feel like seeing people face-to-face.
Reach out for professional assistance to overcome your difficulties with a supported manageable approach.
Nikki W is a Clinical Psychotherapist and Life Coach passionate about aiding others to overcome life’s challenges. Visit www.bristoltherapy.com for more information and follow her on twitter @NikkiWebber2