Tag Archives: male eating disorders

Body Image – Men Struggle Too In A Photoshopped World

The number of men with dieting and body image issues is steadily rising. It is estimated that 45% of North American men are unhappy with their bodies and appearance, a figure that has nearly tripled in 25 years. While it remains undisputed that women have unrealistic media-distorted physical ideals to contend with, it is clear now that men face similar battles being surrounded by countless lean, buff, chiselled images on billboards, television and ads.

Men And Eating Disorders

It isn’t debated that more women suffer from body dysmorphia and eating disorders, but the facts about males may surprise you. While 20 million women will suffer from eating disorders in their lifetime as compared to a reported 10 million men, these statistics may be different in reality; many men are ashamed to report an eating disorder because of its traditional classification as largely a ‘women’s disease’. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the mortality rate is actually higher among men with eating disorders. Moreover, many men suffer comorbid conditions such as certain mental illnesses, steroid abuse or exercise addictions along with their eating disorders. NEDA also asserts that while eating disorders are much more prevalent in women, “subclinical eating disordered behaviors (including binge eating, purging, laxative abuse and fasting for weight loss) are nearly as common among males as they are among females.”

6 Pack Pressure

In recent years a new male-centric body dysmorphic disorder has emerged called muscle dysmorphia, which mainly affects males interested in bodybuilding. People suffering from muscle dysmorphia will compulsively over-exercise, abuse steroids and supplements, and obsessively tailor their eating to suit the disorder. These men believe themselves to be under-muscular when in actual fact their muscle mass is well above average. Sufferers will often disfigure themselves in the pursuit of the “perfect masculine body”. Even among men who don’t suffer this affliction is the ever-present notion of ‘bulking up’. Men feel pressure to keep up with the media’s tunnel vision perception of how ‘hot men’ should look.

The Role and Toll of the Media

Just as there are increasing pressures on women from the media and social media to use makeup, wear this, do that, push up this and tuck in that, there are similar unfair physical pressures on men to oil up, shave up, muscle up and man up. And not only is ‘fat shaming’ unfortunately still alive and well for both genders, but ‘skinny shaming’ has entered the playing field now too. The internet provides a collective anonymously cruel voice in comment sections on people’s photos or videos, creating a world where virtually no one gets away unscathed. Many men see the virtually unattainable and ever-circulating buff, tanned, hairless, handsome, angular, well-dressed amalgamated image and head for the gym, tanning parlor and clothing stores to emulate him. Both genders have unreachable ideals constantly streamed through feeds and on television, it is no wonder that even the most strong-willed sometimes question themselves against these photoshopped ideals.

We Need A More Positive World

Something clearly needs to change in advertising, social media and television to make way for a more relatable and less threateningly idealized characters and images. There have been ‘body positive’ campaigns, some helpful and some that still just promote one type of body over another, but more needs to change to help everyone be more comfortable in their own skin. Less negativity and more acceptance on the internet would be ideal if we can’t learn to ignore the pressures and bullying. Will these changes ever come to fruition? Hopefully before the statistics about either gender creep up any further.


If you or a loved one suffer with body image or eating issues, you should talk to your doctor or one of our qualified DocChat physicians today to learn about diagnostic and treatment options. NEDA has many great resources such as a helpline for people struggling with eating issues. Thanks for visiting DocChat!