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Sun Jan 19, 2014, 03:46 AM

Why Men Never Discuss Body Image Issues

During a recent conversation with my close friend Daryl, a very interesting topic came up. A topic that I've never really touched on, thought about or discussed prior to that conversation -- body image.

It's no secret that women have been battling this for years and even today, with all of our modern advancements, it's evident that we still have a long way to go.

With societies hand on the pulse of popularity, I'm often left to wonder -- why don't men ever talk about body image issues?

Would we be deemed sensitive or weak if we discussed the dissatisfaction of our appearance? Would we not be looked at as protectors and/or leaders if we honestly admitted that we have physical insecurities? Has pop culture demoralized morality and influenced masculinity to the point that men have disassociated themselves with the authenticity of vulnerability?



This is something men really should be discussing. IMO, it is becoming a real problem, especially with boys. I know I have had these issues, and still struggle with them. When I was in my 20's, I "took up" bulimia in order to control my weight (I was about 120# and 5'7". This past year there were months where I would refuse to look into a mirror, unless it was too fix my hair, and then I always had my shirt on at the time. I have noticed more and more men are concerned with their body image and how others perceive them.

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Reply Why Men Never Discuss Body Image Issues (Original post)
Behind the Aegis Jan 2014 OP
Bonobo Jan 2014 #1
Major Nikon Jan 2014 #2
Behind the Aegis Jan 2014 #6
Major Nikon Jan 2014 #3
westerebus Jan 2014 #4
radicalliberal Jan 2014 #5
loli phabay Jan 2014 #7

Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 09:48 AM

1. Here's a hint

When was the last time you heard a woman on DU say that men were "whining"?

Now consider how sexist the word "whining" is and how it perpetuators the idea that men shouldn't complain -because they are so advantaged.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 11:10 AM

2. I have yet to see one person on DU reasonably quantify how men are more advantaged than women

When asked, the standard answer is, 'men make 23%(actually 19.5%) more than women'. Naturally they don't want to hear that when relevant sociological factors are applied, the actually gender pay gap which could possibly be attributed to discrimination is statistically negligible. They also don't want to hear that men spend 29% more time working. Neither do they want to hear that men are disparately impacted by 14 of the 15 leading causes of death. So our 'advantage' is that we are wage slaves and get to die 5 years sooner.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 21, 2014, 01:51 AM

6. Mixed messages

I understand what you are saying and agree. There are a number of people that expect men to "do something" about issues within the male community, but when those issues/problems are brought up, the accusations of "whining" and demands to "man/sack up" are made. This issue in particular will inspire homophobic attacks because "gay men are vain", and therefore, a man who cares about his appearance is "light in the loafers" or "womanly." At the same time, we see attacks on male public figures' appearances (I know I have done it too), that were they made against a female public figure, accusations of "misogyny" would fly. More and more, men are judged by their appearance. There has always been a bit of judging, but it was usually related to classism.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 11:30 AM

3. From my perspective, gay men seem to have even more pressures about body issues

They also seem to affect men in different ways than women and how we deal with it is looked at differently. Losing hair is a big issue for some. While women have makeup and all sorts of other ways to cover up the effects of aging, but if a man wears a toupee, he's disparaged for it. Height issues aren't really a concern for women, but short men certainly suffer disparately and are ridiculed if they try to wear any sort of footwear which is designed to add height.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 11:11 PM

4. It may be it is so atypical that we don't.

That's the joke isn't it? We don't, so we are what we do not do.

What makes us as men authentic? I know that I don't spend that much time thinking about it.

I know that when I look in the mirror and see myself getting balder, I tell myself I still have a wicked grin, a sharp mind, and the body of a lean mean fighting machine. I like me.

I was a skinny kid to start off with so weight wasn't really a factor in my life.

I just shy of six foot.

Being emotionally distant, that's a different story.

PTSD. I could write a book.

But, that's not all I am.

The sum of the parts are greater that what you see.

That I think is true of most everyone.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Mon Jan 20, 2014, 04:21 AM

5. I hope the following article will contribute to the discussion in this topic.


Dysmorphia: Male Anorexia

Ian Lee

Page 1 of 2

Many women suffer from anorexia, and now men have a similar disorder. It's called dysmorphia, and if you body build, you may know what I'm talking about. The worst thing about this disorder is that some guys might have it and be completely unaware.

what is dysmorphia?

Muscle dysmorphia is the opposite of anorexia. Unlike anorexia, which makes one believe that they're overweight, dysmorphia bequeaths the illusion that one does not have big enough muscles.

People with the illness constantly imagine that their body needs to change even though it is fine by normal standards. It is still a relatively new psychological disorder; doctors at Brown and Keele University in England discovered this disorder not too long ago, but it is definitely real.

Dysmorphia is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects a person's perception of their body image. Most men who have this psychological illness are rather muscular when compared to the rest of the population, but they none-the-less wear baggy clothes and refuse to take their shirts off in public out of fear of being ridiculed because of their (anticipated) small size.

It can be quite serious and needs to be treated. Dysmorphia might not have as direct an impact on a man's health as anorexia, but its repercussions can still have grave effects on a person's life. Some of the symptoms can cause irreparable damage to the body and the negative impact it can have on one's social life can take years to fix.

do you have dysmorphia?

Men who have this illness will spend countless hours at the gym every day, lifting weights obsessively. They will always check to see if they gained mass, and constantly complain that they are too thin or too small and need to bulk up.

They will be fixated on eating the right things and adjust their entire life around gaining mass. It might sound like virtually every guy at the gym, but dysmorphia is an extreme case of bodybuilding on the brain.

Men with this condition exaggerate every aspect of bodybuilding to the point of delusion. Eating the right food will not simply be a conviction; it's going to be a phobia. Time spent away from the gym will cause anxiety and stress, and life outside the gym will suffer.

Social life, job opportunities, work, dates, and anything else that can interfere with time spent at the gym will take a backseat. In extreme cases of dysmorphia, men will over-workout until they damage their muscles, sometimes permanently.

And then, they turn to steroids...

Page 2 of 2

Finally, they will often ponder using illegal steroids. Using steroids does not necessarily mean you have dysmorphia. But if you are in great shape, are not planning on doing any competitive bodybuilding, or don't "need" to bulk up for any professional reasons, yet still feel the need to take steroids, then you might have a problem.

If any of this rings a bell, don't freak out just yet. Some guys might have all those symptoms and still not have dysmorphia. It all depends on how much bodybuilding controls your life. If you can't let go of the gym as easily as you might want to due to extreme feelings of anxiety unlike the negligible anxiety you feel when you stop an old habit then you should look into the matter.

developing dysmorphia

Men are more likely to develop the disorder than women. As you may have guessed, dysmorphia is a fabrication of today's physical stereotypes. Culturally, males are supposed to be big and strong. Men in magazines, movie heroes and male comic book characters are often depicted as strong, perfect specimens, so like anorexia, the stereotype influences the gender it refers to.

The disorder preys on men's insecurities. With the "perfect" male stereotype becoming more and more cartoonish and clearly defined, some men feel they need to match the images that constantly bombard us. Scientists predict that as bodybuilding increases in popularity, more and more people will develop dysmorphia.

treating dysmorphia

Like anorexia, dysmorphia is complicated to treat. Patients usually have a hard time admitting they have a distorted image of their body. The first step, and usually the most important one, is making a person see their body for what it actually is; that it is fine and doesn't need to be changed.

The best treatment for dysmorphia is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of therapy forces the patient to analyze his problem using logical steps. The process forces the person to rationalize his condition and find a cure that will suit him best. Certain drugs can also help speed up the recovery process.

In either case, family members, friends and peers will have to convince the person that he has a problem and help him surmount the ordeal. Pointing out all the negative consequences his condition has brought about is one of the many different techniques used in treating this disorder.

Consult a mental health counselor, psychiatrist and other professionals if you know anybody who has this disorder. Men with dysmorphia will rarely seek out help themselves.

still not mainstream

Dysmorphia might still not get the same level of attention as anorexia, but as time goes by, more and more people are becoming aware of this relatively new mental illness. Remember, it is best to consult an expert when dealing with such problems. Dysmorphia can have dire consequences, so stay sharp and don't be afraid to help out a friend in need.




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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Jan 22, 2014, 07:07 AM

7. i guess it depends on the guys, i am very body conscious but i am lucky with my genes


my buddies are all into working out and looking good to attract mates in the same way i am. honestly what a prospective date looks like is very important to me, if i put effort in i expect the same or more from them. now what you are saying is the same side of the coin in the dissatisfaction of how one looks. as i said i like the way i look and could not honestly say there is anything i would change but i see dissatisfaction in my peers everyday, but the vulnerability i believe is only shrouded from the outside whereas its discussed within the peer group.

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