“Woman have body dysmorphia”, I overheard at the gym. “That is why they’re obsessed with how they look”, whilst he posed in the mirror with a front double bicep.
He wasn’t a professional bodybuilder. He was a bloke, Monday was bench, Wednesday was back and triceps kind of guy. Friday night drinks at the pub. Probably a mate of yours. And he had Body Dysmorphia.
I believe we all have Body Dysmorphia, otherwise anytime fitness wouldn’t exist. For some of us it’s a small nagging feeling when our confidence is low, for others it's life and death.
If you have Netflix you should watch a documentary by Christopher Bell on anabolic steroid use in America and how prominent is has become a must for everyday men aspiring to be like their muscle heroes.
Men are set to overtake woman in this issue and the unhealthy aspect of having the most defined muscles or shredded appearance is the opposite of the obvious goal or aspiration to being fit and healthy. This issue is leading to the destruction of an important aspect of a mans existence…his soul.
A large concern comes from the entertainment industry. Movies stars are getting ripped for roles in 8 weeks with the perfect abs is and that to some is an attainable goal. I read that in preparation for a shirtless scene in the movie ‘Logan’, Hugh Jackman dehydrated himself for 24 hours before shooting to ‘cut’ water retention from the body, making him look more ripped. Not to mention the million dollar lighting equipment to film the scene to help. However, the physique was an important aspect of the film since Jackman is playing the Marvel mutant, Wolverine – the most popular renegade super hero in the world today.
The movie ‘300’ received the same treatment, the actors took a 3 month boot camp before shooting and the lead actors had nutritionist chefs assigned to them to help prepare their diet.
Do you have personal nutritionist and chef at home?
Again, the physique was an essential part of playing legendary spartan warriors. But, the problem relates to the men watching, as they believe this is what they should aspire to look like…at all costs! But you're not spartan warriors or superhuman…
Some people can obtain these physiques through dedication of course, some even have lucky genetics that will always keep them a little bit ahead of the curve. However, for the millions of normal guys out there with aspiration of ripped and lean or muscle on muscle this is a mind set which can dominate your entire thoughts, resulting in drastic measures to achieve the pinnacle they desire. The over use of steroid cycles or growth hormone can have side effects that changes your well-being for the rest of your life. The psychological ramifications of being in a obsessive state over your appearance can lead to the loss of relationships or never establishing relationships in the first place can lead to severe depression.
Common effects of Body Dysmorphia:
- feelings of shame, guilt or loneliness
- isolating yourself to avoid situations that cause you anxiety or discomfort
- depression or anxiety
- misuse of alcohol or other drugs
- feeling you need unnecessary medical procedures, such as cosmetic surgery
- eating disorders
- suicidal thoughts
“Every morning, Jamal Jones rolls out of bed, shuffles over to his bathroom, and flips on the light switch. The 29-year-old Washington, DC, resident is slim-framed, by all accounts handsome. On those mornings, he can see the sleep in his eyes, the stubble growing on his chin—but that’s not what he’s looking for. Without helping it, he immediately starts scanning for that one aspect of his appearance he never seems to be satisfied with, no matter how much he goes to the gym or how many diets he tries. It’s body fat—any body fat he can see—that perturbs him.” Jack Hobbs writes for Vice.
“Jamal suffers from body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD. It’s classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder in the DSM-V; sufferers become obsessed with particular aspects of their appearance they deem unworthy, no matter how unrealistic those thoughts may be. Jamal is also gay, making him one of many queer men who suffer from BDD and distorted body image. Those are inadequacies Brammer said he continues to feel, especially when he uses dating apps like Grindr—and they persist despite writing about his struggle publicly. The way he described the experience of being body dysmorphic is downright haunting: “You see yourself in your minds eye, sort of like a funhouse mirror,” Brammer said, “and when you see your flaw you sorta become obsessive about it. It's all you think about, it's all you look for.”
Manifestations in Men
DD has been recognized as a mental illness by psychiatric professionals, but those professionals report that men and women who have BDD often have very different symptoms. In a review of research published in Depression and Anxiety, researchers report that men were more likely than women to be concerned with issues involving muscle, and they were less likely to work due to the distress the BDD caused within their lives.
Put another way, men with BDD often develop something called bigorexia. These men are fully focused on how many muscles they have, and how many muscles they see on the bodies around them. They may think of themselves as tiny, weak, or puny, even when they are able to pick up hundreds of pounds of weight. To them, their bodies will always be just a little bit too small.
Men like this may not be able to keep a steady job simply because they must spend so much time on the development and maintenance of muscles. They may need to spend hours and hours at the gym, lifting weights and working out, even when there are other demands upon their time.
In addition to this time component, the BDD Foundation suggests that men with bigorexia will:
- Continue to train, even when injured
- Use protein supplements or special diets to boost muscle mass
- Abuse steroids or other supplements
- Attempt to camouflage the body in order to look bigger
- Spend a great deal of time measuring muscle mass or looking in the mirror
Men who are interested in bodybuilding and weightlifting may develop a few of these symptoms, too. For example, competitive body builders might use protein shakes to beef up before a competition, or men like this might devote a few moments of every morning to measurements of weight and size.
But men with BDD devote much more time than would be considered prudent by any reasonable adult. These are not men who might lift in the evenings and then go about business as usual. These are men who spend all day lifting and who get up in the middle of the night to cram in one more workout. The level of attention paid is excessive.
As the International OCD Foundation points out, the feelings associated with BDD can be intense and all-consuming. Men who are convinced that they are much too small can have negative self-talk from the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they head to bed at night. These are people torn apart by their concerns, and their attempts to correct the issue do not bring them joy.
Read about Omari Eccleston-Brown story from the INDEPENDENT to read how he overcame his body issues.