Body Dysmorphia & Men
Problems with body image are becoming an increasing trend for most men.
The Mental Health Foundation and YouGov recently released a Body Image report. The report is based on surveys covering 4,505 adults and 1,118 teens in the United Kingdom. The survey’s questions focused on people’s thoughts towards body issues, dietary health, psychological distress, eating disorders, and more.
The results found that a third of LGBTQ people (33%) have experienced suicidal thoughts because of poor body image. This is more than double the number for straight respondents who felt the same (11%). In addition, anxiety and depression related to body image were also higher with LGBTQ people.
Sadly, these numbers are nothing new to gay, bisexual, and trans men. While men as a whole are taking on more expectations to be thin and muscular than in the last century, its gay men who are taking the brunt of this wave. Gay, bisexual, and trans men are more commonly affected by body dysmorphia.
What is Body Dysmorphia?
Body Dysmorphia is a mental disorder characterized by the obsession over one’s own body. The person feels that their appearance is greatly flawed. Often, this means they will take measures to hide part of or the majority of their body through clothes and other resources.
The above survey also found that “minority stress,” meaning the stress caused by discrimination, harassment, victimization, and negative internalized feelings, also factor into body dysmorphia and negative body image.
The survey found that 40% of LGBTQ people felt shame because of their body and 54% reported having low self-esteem. The study also noted how these numbers were larger than with straight respondents. In addition, straight men were more likely to appreciate their bodies than their gay, bisexual, and transgender peers.
That said, we shouldn’t ignore the straight men who feel similar to gbt men who reported these numbers. Ignoring the minority of straight men who struggle with body issues would be a disservice to the entire mission and message of the survey.
Twas a delightful night with delightful people. <3 https://t.co/I4ZjRKnmB9
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) May 15, 2019
And Straight Men?
There are plenty of straight men battling body dysmorphia. One of the most vocal ones is Matthew Mercer.
Mercer is a voice actor who has worked on projects like Resident Evil, Attack on Titian, Thundercats, Batman: Arkham Knight, Fallout 4, Super Smash Bros. Starlight, and more. On top of that, he is the dungeon master for the popular D&D show Critical Role (which recently made 10 million in its Kickstarter campaign to fund an animation series).
Throughout all of his success, Matthew Mercer has fought with and discussed living with Body Dysmorphia. As he recently tweeted last month:
“Body Dysmorphia is a bitch. It can vary day to day, but sometimes (like today), I can feel like I’m stuck in some alien body I cannot escape from. Grossly uncomfortable, trapped, and full of self-loathing. Every perceived imperfection is magnified, and I obsess or hide from them.”
He added: “It can be a struggle to go out at times, to want to leave the darkness of my home and see other people. Gearing up to be on camera on days when it gets bad is a battle of willpower. I have to distract myself to keep from falling down that hole.”
“It’s a work-in-progress,” the voice actor and content creator shared. “It never goes away, but the bad days aren’t always. My wife, my family, my friends, all of you, help me through it. I focus on the positive things outside of myself, immerse myself in working to help others. Support and distraction are my current tools.”
“Anyway, I’m expressing this both as a means of processing my own feelings in a healthier way, and to reach out to all of you who may find yourself in a similar headspace. You aren’t alone, and it will get better. <3”
It can be a struggle to go out at times, to want to leave the darkness of my home and see other people. Gearing up to be on camera on days when it gets bad is a battle of willpower. I have to distract myself to keep from falling down that hole.
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) April 30, 2019
Anyway, I’m expressing this both as a means of processing my own feelings in a healthier way, and to reach out to all of you who may find yourself in a similar headspace. You aren’t alone, and it will get better. <3
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) April 30, 2019
Men & Body Issues
All of this is to bring home the message that body dysmorphia and body issues are not just a problem for women. Men deal with these struggles as well.
LGBTQ men are being hit with it the most and many report having low self-esteem because of their feelings for their own bodies. That said, straight men are also dealing with similar problems and trials.
Most men are dealing with the desire to look different than they do. And we need to acknowledge that more.