Body image anxiety and dysmorphia are issues that transcend gender, and not all people experience them the same way. This particular post focuses on body image issues from one man’s point of view.
1. You’re not alone.
Body image anxiety is not an epiphany. It doesn’t arrive suddenly, all at once. It creeps slowly, eating away at your self-esteem every time you see a photoshopped physique or a newly buff celebrity. Why don’t I look like that? I wish I were a little…better. With the media more pervasive, more invasive than ever, it’s no wonder that men are just as likely as women to suffer from body image anxiety and dysmorphia. As with depression, though, men are far less likely to report it, and far less likely to seek treatment than women. I’m not suggesting men have it worse, but we have it, and it starts early.
I remember being as young as 9 or 10 and holding my stomach in at school swimming lessons. I didn’t have a gut. I was a perfectly healthy weight, too active and sporty to ever really put on weight. My stomach was always flat, and yet the worst thing I could imagine then – a time when my only concerns should have been Ninja Turtles and BMX – was being called fat. So I held my stomach rigid at all times. It was something I never told anyone. I had no idea that other men might feel the same. It’s time we talked about it.