Body Dysmorphi-what?

The hardship women encounter with body image and competing with Instagram models is often spoken about. Yet, rarely do we acknowledge that men go through the same struggle.

If you were to ask women what they look for in a man, it isn’t hard to believe that a “good body” is in the top 5 answers. There are so many body types out there but if you don’t fit the mold of the “standard male beauty,” then you automatically become unworthy of any type of acknowledgement.

We all know that social media’s portrayal of beauty is toxic. Yet for some reason we, myself included, compare ourselves to who and what we see on there. Just earlier this week, I scrolled through Instagram for an hour just comparing myself to every fit male that I came across, pointing out every flaw I needed to change. And I know many men like me and this is the very reason they go to the gym for 2 hours for 6 days out of the week. 

But let’s get into discussing body dysmorphia. What exactly is it? According to Mayo Clinic, “Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others.” You are constantly looking at yourself in the mirror and obsessing over the way that look.

Speaking for myself, I’m in pretty good shape but when I look in the mirror I don’t necessarily like everything that I see. Do I love my body? Absolutely, but I can accept that I need to tone up in some areas. But here’s where my problem lies. I never see my own progress. Literally! If I were to go to the gym for a month, I would see the same body I saw the month prior rather than where I actually am. To the point where I usually have to send progress photos to my best friend so she can be the one to point out my improvements that I just can’t see it.

Now I know I’m not the only one but I feel that men are overlooked when it comes to body issues. More emphasis is placed on women, but men are constantly pressured to look good. Even in the gay community, the “token gay” is a very muscular looking guy. I’ve seen with my own eyes, men getting rejected because they don’t have the ideal look. Even when women and/or men say they like thick men, they aren’t talking about the average Joe, what they’re talking about is a broad man (still muscular) without the washboard abs. When you look at ad campaigns that show male inclusivity, the “thick guy” is actually very much in shape compared to average looking males.

I’m not one to present an issue and not provide a solution. One thing I started to do this year is stand in front of the mirror and genuinely compliment myself and learn to love every flaw, show more appreciation for the progress that I’m making. However, I think it would be contradictory to tell you guys how to get over body dysmorphia when I’m currently dealing with it. So let’s get advice from the actual professionals and start a new journey together. According to American Addiction Centers, one option is to talk to a trained professional who may be able to pinpoint where your insecurities are coming from. Another option is to practice good self-care. Take care of yourself, give yourself positive words of affirmation, compliment yourself daily. Progress will not happen overnight but if you consistently hold yourself accountable, it will get easier.

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