You’re so vain, you probably think this article’s about you, don’t you? Well, if you do, then perhaps you’re one of those men who are glancing back in the mirror and asking, as many women who’ve gone before them have, “does my behind look big in this?” The problems potentially arise though when concern about how you look turns into a bad body image. According to a recent study, this could put you at greater risk of a less successful romantic relationship. Is it time you questioned how you see yourself?
You could argue that there have always been ideals. From matinee idols to sporting heroes, young boys and men have aspired to have the classic triangular shape of male physical perfection, with some sharp as a blade abs to add to the overall picture of manliness. However, there’s no doubt that the pressure men feel to attain a certain physical ideal seems to have grown. More and more men are starting to feel the heat of this spotlight. But the issue is that aside from the stress they face, men don’t always see themselves in a realistic light either.
You’re not just a body!
Okay, there’s nothing wrong with looking in the mirror, getting the full picture of what you look like, with and without clothes and casting the odd critical eye – in a positive way of course! However, start obsessing and you start to objectify your body. It becomes a physical object rather than connected to you emotionally. This can create a more critical attitude and the greater so-called body shame.
A recent study at the University of Psychology found that of the 227 men who participated, those who had a greater body shame had less hope about getting involved in relationships, both romantically and socially. While this might not sound surprising, most studies have centered around women and the effects of bad body image, rather than focusing squarely on men. Yet there is growing number of men who are seeking out help with body-related psychological disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia.
The male ideal!
A University of Texas and University of California study looking at 118 men’s views of what their peers would regard as a male ideal found that this peer ideal was heavier, or bigger than the ideal they suggested women would be attracted to. It was the same story when men were asked to pick out the ideal body shape that women would be attracted to. Not only do men not know what women want but it seems they are not completely across what their kinsmen think either.
Too big or too small?
Women are consistent when it comes to wanting to be thinner. Women who really want to pile on the extra bulk are somewhat few and far between. This isn’t the case with men. The same study found that while 34% of men wanted to be thinner, 36% wanted to be heavier. Mix into this more details, such as ideals for certain parts of the body being bulkier than others, and it seems men are just as dissatisfied as their female counterparts when it comes to their own bodies.
So if many men don’t have a handle on what is ideal from anyone’s point of view, and have a skewed view of their own physical appearance, then it’s understandable how steroid abuse and over exercising can become a big problem for some. And these are certainly not going to help an already less than hopeful love life blossom anytime soon.
Instead of hitting the gym or a training schedule to build up or skinny down, think about getting a realistic assessment of how fit you are from the eye of an exercise expert and don’t let bad body image ruin your life.