Body image and men
Do you struggle with body image issues? I know that I do. It’s a problem that is often not discussed and widely misunderstood, probably because “body image” is often thought of as a female issue. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know this simply isn’t true.
Let’s be real –
If aren’t looking in the mirror to inspect our hairline, we’re pinching our sides to check for fat. And it doesn’t help that we are constantly being bombarded with imagery of athletically built guys that tell us “Do these 5 things to get this physique”. Never mind that most of the pics have been filtered, photo-shopped and airbrushed.
How many times have you scrolled through Instagram and run across posts from guys flexing their biceps and flaunting their airbrushed six-pack while suggesting that low and behold, you too can look like them, if only you buy their protein powder.
Talk about a bunch of BS!
While there’s nothing wrong admiring the physical accomplishments of another, the cumulative effect of cultural messaging can negatively impact self-esteem.
Here, I am talking about a thinking distortion that is not often discussed and widely misunderstood: Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
You may be wondering what that term means? In a nutshell, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (body dysmorphia) (BDD) is a psychological condition whereby a person becomes preoccupied with their personal appearance to the point that it can become debilitating.
Here’s what the Anxiety and Depression of Association of America has to say:
“People with BDD can dislike any part of their body, although they often find fault with their hair, skin, nose, chest, or stomach.
In reality, a perceived defect may be only a slight imperfection or nonexistent. But for someone with BDD, the flaw is significant and prominent, often causing severe emotional distress and difficulties in daily functioning.”
It is important to draw a distinction between a person who has BDD and clinical narcissism. Many people confuse the two because they hold similar characteristics. In truth, they really aren’t the same.
So how do you know if you have body dysmorphia? Is there a way to assess for symptoms?
According to the authors of the book, The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession, the answer is: Yes.
Given the importance of this topic, we’ve decided to list 10 signs of potential BDD, culled together from scientific literature. While not diagnostic in nature, they can be used to examine your own situation.
When you read these traits, it is important to view them in context. Think “big picture” and try not to focus on just one thing.
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
1. Preoccupation with physical appearance
- Excessive staring in the mirror; noticing only “flaws”
- Habitually asking others, “Do I look…? (fat, skinny, ugly).
- Inability to enjoy yourself in the presence of others because you are worried about how you are physically perceived.
2. Exaggerated negative perception of a body part
- You believe your nose is too big
- You think your genitals are too small
- You feel your biceps aren’t big enough
3. Refusing to appear in photographs
- Because you don’t like how you look, you refuse to allow your picture to be taken.
- You cut yourself out of photos when possible.
- If you must appear in a picture, you use photo-editing software to “fix” your perceived distortions.
4. Frequent cosmetic procedures but never satisfied with results
- You visit different Botox doctors, exceeding the limit of what is clinically suggested.
- You shop for new liposuction doctors because your current surgeon refuses to do a “new procedure”.
- You opt for to have another nose job because the last one didn’t fix “the problem”.
5. Constantly comparing yourself to others
- Excessively comparing your body to that of others and focusing in on your perceived negatives. Examples: “I wish my calves looked like his” or “Why can’t I have a chest like that guy?”
- Comparing yourself against male celebs. Example: “Why can’t I look like (fill in celebrity name).
- Excluding yourself from social activities because you feel you aren’t “hot enough”.
6. You’ve convinced yourself you are ugly
- You believe other men focus on your perceived negative body part (i.e. nose, baldness, body size, small biceps).
- You avoid mirrors because you can’t stand the site of your appearance.
- You won’t have sex with other men. If you do, it must be with the lights off.
7. You wear body camouflage
- You wear extra-large shirts to hide your torso.
- Because you think you are going bald, you always wear a baseball cap.
- You only wear baggy jeans or sweats to hide your lower extremities.
Below we have published a poll for you to vote in to assess how many of the signs listed here apply to you. Over the course of time, make sure you come back to see the trends of others.
If you struggle with body image issues, it might be helpful to talk with a professional. It could be the healthiest move you’ve ever made.