THE BLOG

Body Image Issues in Men: A Study

24/06/2014 17:48 BST | Updated 24/08/2014 10:59 BST

Several months ago, I wrote an article focused on the body image issues amongst the male community.

Now, with the help of UK magazine New Look, we have some statistics to back up what we always suspected - Men do, in fact, suffer from low self esteem and body image issues.

2000 men were surveyed in the poll commissioned by New Look and it was found that more men are less confident in their bodies than they, themselves would let on, and than the media suggests.

The evidence shown confirms that some men do in fact have body image issues such as low self esteem, suffer eating disorders and feel extremely pressured to hit the gym more often than ever. In the past, body image issues were thought of as more of a female issue, where men weren't really even considered in the equation, but now, with more and more pressure put on both women AND men, it's time that we, as a society, start taking notice of what exactly is going on.

The study conducted by New Look suggests that more than half of the men who participated in the survey admitted to having issues with how they looked and felt about themselves.

The survey found that the most common causes of insecurities in men were excess weight (26% of men surveyed,) waistline, height, muscles size and definition and penis size (18%)

In a separate survey conducted on behalf of Central YMCA and The Succeed Foundation found that, surveyed men, when asked to indicate their concerns with different aspects of their bodies and appearance, most showed anxiety and fear of being overweight and having a beer belly (58%) yellowing and stained teeth (20%) and worries of not having enough muscle mass (14%)

Another interesting point bought about by the conducted survey was that included both men and women from the North East region of the UK to be more confident in contrast to Wales with the least confident women and South East with the least confident men.

Some other points to consider:

How men really feel about their bodies: Seven fundamental truths about men.

⦁Men have more body angst than we realize, but they'll never have a serious conversation with you about it.

"A man thinks, 'Not only does it bother me that I'm fat and my hair is thinning. It bothers me that it bothers me, because I'm not supposed to feel this way,'" says Thomas Cash, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. "The thinking is that it's like a woman to worry about looks."

So we won't talk to you about our insecurities. Nor will you ever catch us ever asking a friend for advice: "Hey Bill, do these pants slim my beer gut? Do I need to trim my chest hair? Which accentuates my triceps, the blue shirt or the red?"

⦁Instead, they'll joke about their bodies

Men make fun of themselves to cover up what they're really feeling--frustration, embarrassment and anger that they're not perfect. 

⦁Men are worried about their bodies because they're competing for women--and against women

With more people both marrying later and getting divorced, it's a competitive environment for finding mates. And since this generation of women can support themselves, they're freer to pick a man for his cute butt. Women are tired of being objectified and have turned the tables on men. "They don't like a man to be overly vain," she says. "He shouldn't care too much about the way he looks, but on the other hand, he should look good." At the same time, men are also shaping up because they're seeing that people who are fit are more successful at work.

⦁Men are not just checking women out

Men are a visual gender. They like the way women look. A lot. But that doesn't mean they don't compare themselves to other men the way women compare themselves to other women. I notice the way men look on the beach, at work, or simply walking by. Maybe it's male competitiveness or primal instincts, but they don't just want to have better bodies to attract women. They want better bodies to improve their position among themselves.

⦁Men want to look like they're 25

It used to be that our mythical heroes had wisdom, experience and maturity. Think Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Now our heroes are baby-faced with six-pack abs. Today's ideal is younger, buffer, more muscular. A lot of men in their 40s and 50s have trouble trying to emulate that." So men, like women, are swimming against the age current. That might explain why from 1997 to 2001, the number of men who had cosmetic surgery increased 256 percent. (Last year more than 800,000 men--and north of six million women--went under the knife.)

⦁Men's body image problems can be just as dangerous as women's

For some men, poor body image can lead to anger, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction and steroid abuse. Doctors may fail to recognize eating disorders or muscle dysmorphia (the need to constantly bulk up), even though it's estimated that eating disorders affect one million men. Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School and coauthor of The Adonis Complex, says secrecy reinforces the patients' sense of shame. "I've treated men who would tell people they were alcoholics, but they'd never admit they were bulimic," he says.

⦁Men don't blame anyone...

(Except maybe Tiger Woods and Taco Bell.) But they'll be grateful to anyone who makes them feel good about shaping up. We know what it's like to be bombarded with images of perfect bodies. We see the men in commercials and on magazine covers, the bigger-stronger-better mentality that dominates our culture.

"Look at Tiger Woods. The best golfer in the world has an outstanding physique. Golfers used to be everyday men," says J. Kevin Thompson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. "Basketball players used to be skinny. They're all muscular now."

Unfortunately no one is safe from body image issues, men and women are freely targeted and made to believe they have to look and behave a certain way in order to be appealing to others and the opposite sex.

We are all human, we are all different and unique. Don't try to fit a mould built for you by society's warped beauty ideals.

Jessica Lovejoy is a Positive Body Image Advocate and writer.

Follow her page Positive Body Image Inspiration on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/positivebodyimage89.

You can also follow her blogs:

www.positivebodyimageinspiration.tumblr.com

www.bodypositivityforthemodernman.tumblr.com

Follow Jessica Lovejoy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Posibodyinspo