Unrealistic beauty standards are usually assumed to be linked with women. Hyper-perfect movie heroines and glitzy ads showing shapely waistlines drive women in their obsession with their bodies. But the same awareness and public discourse about men facing similar male body image issues are severely lacking.
Ripped muscles and beefed-up bodies are worshiped as the ideal physical goals to achieve by men. Such popular notions lead to body-shaming that can take a mental toll on them.
Joseph Thomas, medical director of Medlounges, says that men have been silent victims of body-shaming in society. “From professional athletes to the commoner, body shaming can happen to anyone. Some celebrities were brutally fat-shamed while vacationing on a beach!”
Popular media largely influences men’s body image issues besides peer pressure and other factors. The newly released Vijay Deverakonda’s ‘Liger’ poster has taken Twitter by storm with the trending hashtag #SexiestPosterEver.
Posing with his almost nude and ripped body with just a bunch of roses hiding his crotch, Vijay’s poster has also triggered a debate regarding how it would impact male body positivity.
The plight of younger women is usually acknowledged when a Kardashian claims to have gone hungry for weeks to fit into a sleek designer dress. But when the likes of John Abraham, Aditya Roy Kapoor, or Varun Dhawan enter the limelight with bulging biceps and carved abs, the pressure on the male psyche to conform to such difficult physical standards is largely turned a blind eye.
Read More: In An Era Of Body Shaming & Size 0, Watch How Many Leading Ladies Are Size 6+ Making Curvy Figures Popular
Similarly, other celebrities also enforce the ideal male body image stereotype. For instance, like Deverakonda, Bollywood stars have posed naked in their ultra-muscular bodies, like Aamir Khan in ‘PK’ and John Abraham in ‘Dostana’. In the case of women, the ‘size zero’ trend had first kicked off with Kareena Kapoor in ‘Tashan’.
Many male film stars have themselves been the victims of body shaming. Arjun Kapoor had dealt with multiple body-shaming cases of abuse online, despite his remarkable transformational journey in fitness. Tanmay Bhatt, a popular comedian, opened up about his childhood bullying linked to his physique on an episode of The Ranveer Show.
The Medical Side
Men commonly get taunted due to physical features like a skinny figure, baldness, lack of body hair, insufficient genital size, and so on. Dr. Joseph also points out that teenage boys face body-shaming due to gynecomastia, or enlargement of male breasts, commonly called ‘man-boobs’.
Male body image issues often take the doomed turn towards mental illness. Research shows that such issues lead to lower self-esteem and satisfaction. Besides instances of anxiety and depression, one in ten men have had suicidal thoughts and about 4% have intentionally hurt themselves.
Physical conditions may also develop, such as disordered eating and muscle dysmorphia which means a redundant obsession with muscles. Exercise addiction or an intense craving for physical activity has also been deemed a consequence of body image issues.
Eating disorders may stem from a high-protein low-calorie diet, as emphasized by Naini Setalvad, a nutritionist from Mumbai. “The fad high-protein diet causes constipation, bloating, elevated uric acid and lipids and can lead to multiple long-term health issues.” She stresses that a high protein diet undertaken in pursuit of a muscular gym body is not advisable for young males.
The need to be as masculine as possible is a big influential factor in men developing male body image issues. Dr. John Vijay Sagar, Additional Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Nimhans, Bengaluru, says that boys “feel stigmatized and think they will be viewed as effeminate, as these issues are viewed as feminine problems.”
The pressing issue with boys is acceptance of an eating disorder, be it anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, or body dysmorphic disorder. By the time these conditions are recognized, the person may already have associated mental health issues like panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.
Dr. Sagar said, “Most of these patients have crossed the threshold of diagnosable problems, but there are many out there with sub-threshold problems, who need help.”
Disclaimer: This article is fact-checked
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This post is tagged under: male body image issues, #MenToo, accept diverse body types., body, body acceptance, body confidence, body conscious, Body Dymorphic Disorder, body dysmorphia, contribution of media to female body type, female body, female body type, how female body has changed, Fat Shaming in the gym, fat shaming, muscles, difference between fat and muscle, Body Shaming, issue of body shaming
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