“Bigorexia” body image issues plague men

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 5th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s the middle of swimsuit season. Think eating disorders are the scourge of the female population only? Better think again — women aren’t the only victims of our body image-obsessed society. While women strive to fit into the ideal image of a buxom but skinny size two, men struggle to boost their brawny figure to look like body builders — and even starve themselves to be skinny, too.

According to an Australian study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, muscle dysmorphia, or bigorexia, as it is commonly known, is the pervasive and obsessive idea among men that they are not muscular enough. Just like with anorexia, those afflicted are unable to see their body in its true light. The study found that guys who fixate on muscle-building prefer traditional ideals of masculinity: bulging biceps, broad shoulders and a bold chest. Men who seek to be skinny strive for feminine stereotypes.

The study also found that men’s preferences had not so much to do with sexuality but with how they see themselves. Men with a tendency for bigorexia weren’t any less feminine, nor were men leaning toward thinness any less masculine. Body dysmorphia can affect anyone, and it can take a serious toll. Overexercising often goes hand-in-hand with body dysmorphia. Symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, elevated resting heart rate and diminished physical performance. Your body can’t be its best without rest. In fact, you’re more likely to get injured when you’re tired. Even immunity suffers when you work out excessively. It also increases the risk of eating disorders such as bulimia.

So as the old adage goes, all things in moderation. Be comfortable with your body and the world will believe you’re beautiful, too.