We often forget that body image issues are not strictly restricted to girls. People often argue that the sexualized and demeaning image of women, increased risk of eating disorders, and mental health issues are all in result to poor body image in teens. Male body image is also greatly affected by the media and society’s unrealistic standards of beauty and physical appearance. The Huffington Post discusses the similar struggles that boy’s face from boy’s body image today.
Eating Disorders in Boys
According to recent research, eating disorders in males has increased over the past years. Originally it was believed that 1 in 10 males suffered from an eating disorder, but the correct updated ration is close to 1 in 4 males suffering from an eating disorder today. Despite common perception, body image issues and eating disorders are not exclusively female problems. While eating disorders often manifest different in girls and boys, they still seek the approval and desire to fit in to the societal ideal. The difference though is that boys don’t seek to be thinner, they obsess over becoming highly muscular.
Media’s Influence on Body Image
All teens, including boys, are internalizing body image messages every day from what seems to be harmless sources. The media poorly portrays boy’s body image the same way it portrays girls. Boy’s are portrayed as being muscular, fit, and strong, and are often teased or ridiculed for being too small or overweight. The gold standard of masculinity in young boys today is having six-pack abs. Many believe that being fat is linked to weakness and being fit is associated with power and confidence.
Teens are still developing who they are, and have a much harder time withholding from cultural pressures. Teens can be extremely vulnerable to media messages and what their peers believe to be good body image. Teens who have friends who set unrealistic expectations for themselves in terms of body image can influence others to feel the same. Monitoring girl’s and boy’s body image early on is a good way to catch risks of developing eating disorders or poor self-image. Communicating the truths behind what is healthy and what isn’t is an important lesson for all teens figuring out body image and self-worth.