Do men actually have body image issues, too? You’ve probably never thought about it, but keep thinking about it. With the rise in popularity of MMA, energy drinks, supplements, and muscular fitness, we are seeing an increase in the amount of media targeting men and depicting “hypermuscular” physiques. Male models are now leaner and more muscular than in years past. Could this be having an impact on men and their satisfaction with their own bodies? Look at A&F advertising, just to pick an easy one. What is the message that is being sent to guys? (Besides the whole sex thing…)
Women have been dealing with it since fashion has been in print. There are programs, hospitals, groups, blogs, prescriptions, and more to help women deal with body image issues. What about men? Interestingly, you guys are not immune.
There is a condition or “disorder” called Muscular Dysmorphia. Fancy term for, “I don’t think my body is muscular or big enough”. More directly, a disorder where individuals are preoccupied with the concern that their bodies are not muscular or big enough.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Something along the lines of, “That could be every guy at my gym!”
And you are right. I think it starts really simply. Probably most guys don’t get obsessed with it. I think a few really do. The problem is, how do you determine when a healthy interest in bettering your physical shape crosses a line and becomes unhealthy?
The basic definition of an eating disorder is “any eating behavior that puts a person’s long term physical or emotional health at risk”. So if we apply a similar approach to dysmorphia, we would be looking for behavior that puts physical or emotional health at risk. Can you be too lean? Can you work out too much? Can you take too many supplements? These are fair questions. I think that even beyond that, we should be asking who is holding guys at the gym accountable and not letting them go too far? That is tough. I don’t know that it has ever been done!
Which guy wants to be the one who says to someone, “Hey dude, I think you are muscular enough. Why don’t you lay off training a bit?” (crickets chirping)
As Americans, it is in our blood to be the best we can be! Your coach tells you all the time that you can do one more! You’re asked all the time, “Is that the BEST you can do?” More is better. Don’t be a wimp. One more rep. One more mile. One more plate on the rack.
Where is the voice that says, “That’s enough. Good work.”??
When I look at the MMA athletes and what the sport out right demands from them, I think there is the potential for this type of thing to develop if left unaddressed. Good coaches, knowledgeable staff, and educated athletes are essential to keeping the sport healthy for pros, amateurs, and novices…like me!