So I was watching one of my favorite shows last night, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and enjoying myself at the end of a long day. Wendy Williams was on, along with Rory Albanese and one of my favorite show contributors Grace Parra. The panel topic was the newly diversified types of Barbie dolls that just came out.
This is an excellent and interesting topic, and I liked that they examined it a little from the generational perspective and racial perspective. But then they took it briefly to the men on the panel. Albanese was about to comment thoughtfully, it seemed based on his pregnant pause, only to find himself interrupted by Parra who stated, “boys don’t care about body image!”
Albanese looked like he wanted to say something, then went for the easy joke, laughing and saying, “of course not.” It broke my heart.
Here, once again, we see a missed opportunity to challenge the status quo about males and body image in the public conscience. The truth is males are now every bit as concerned about body image, weight bias and bullying as females are. The research bears this out.
In a TODAY Health/AOL Body Image poll done in 2015, findings include:
- 63% of men want to lose weight
- 53% don’t like having their picture taken
- 41% worry others judge their appearance
- 44% feel uncomfortable in swim trunks
A 2012 University of West England study found:
- 7% of men engage in body image talk about weight, thinness, and hair loss
- 30% were criticized for their “beer belly”
- 19% were criticized for being “chubby”
- 19% were criticized for their “man boobs” or “moobs”
- 23% avoid the gym to due body image shame
- 63% feel their arms or chest were not muscular enough
- 18% were on a high-protein diet to bulk up while 16% were on a diet to slim down
- 29% thought about their appearance at least 5 times a day
And not everyone wants to be thinner. About half of men wish they could be bigger, thus leading to the significant increase in appearance and performance enhancing drugs found from adolescent to adult age males, as well as normalization of compulsive exercise behaviors. In addition, males now make up at least 33% of those diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia according to multiple research studies.
So yes, Grace Parra, males do have body image issues. Please don’t sweep it under the rug next time. It’s not a joking matter.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 877-674-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.