1 in 3 men would trade a year of their life if it meant they could achieve their ideal body weight and shape. This is just one of the worrying outcomes of research just completed by the Centre for Appearance Research in the UK
Body image has traditionally been seen as a “female issue”. But, the fact is that men are now feeling the pressure. Beefcake male models on billboards, photoshopped images of six-pack abs and killer thighs, commando-style guns, glistening white teeth, full heads of hair. And not to mention a whole lot of fat-talk from males in all walks of life. And you thought women were the only ones who did that?
Dr Phillippa Diedrichs , research health psychologist specialising in body image and eating disorder prevention writes.
In October 2011, my colleagues and I at the Centre for Appearance Research were commissioned by The Succeed Foundation and Central YMCA to ask 394 British men aged 18-70 about their body image in an anonymous online survey. Some of the results were surprising…
1) 1 in 3 men said they would trade one year of their life if it meant they could achieve their ideal body weight and shape.
2) The top 4 aspects of appearance that men said they were most concerned about included their stomachs, waistlines, amount of head hair, and wrinkles.
3) 78% of men said that they wish they were more muscular.
4) 1 in 6 fear everyday that they might gain weight.
We also asked men about “body talk”. Body talk, sometimes referred to as “fat talk” among women, is any type of conversation that reinforces narrowly defined standards for attractiveness and beauty – currently for men this tends to be a tall, lean, muscular, toned body with clear skin and a full head of hair.
Examples of body talk include “Do I look fat in this?”, “He would look better if he bulked up a bit.”, “Nobody wants to date the bald guy”, “she shouldn’t be wearing those jeans.” Body talk can appear to be either critical (e.g., “He’s too fat to wear that”) or seemingly complimentary (e.g., “You look great, have you lost weight?”).
Previous research with women suggests that body talk and fat talk has a detrimental effect on body image and self-esteem. For example, one study conducted by psychologists in the US found that women only need to hear 3-5 minutes of fat talk before their body esteem starts to decrease.