Men, Sex & Muscles

Hilary Glover (see footnote) has kindly offered to guest this new post.

Feeling like a “real man” is higher in men with muscle dysmorphia, popularly called ‘bigorexia’, than other gym users. On the other hand, male patients with anorexia nervosa had elevated association with feminine stereotypes, according to research in Biomed Central’s open access journal Journal of Eating Disorders.

Research over the last several decades shows that more and more men admit to being unhappy with their body image. This may show itself in either a desire to lose weight and become thinner, or to gain weight and become more muscular. This can become harmful when the person eats unhealthily or abuses steroids, or when the compulsion for exercise can override normal life resulting in loss of sleep, quality of life, and even in an inability to hold a normal job.

Previously it has been thought that sexual confusion was one of the main driving forces behind body dysmorphia in men. But this study suggests that how men view themselves is more important.

Researchers from the Australian National University and University of Sydney used a questionnaire designed to identify how participants viewed themselves in comparison to culturally accepted stereotypes of masculine thoughts and behaviors. The results showed that men with a high drive for muscularity (as in muscle dysmorphia) had a greater preference for traditional masculine roles, whereas men with a high desire for thinness (as in anorexia nervosa) displayed greater adherence to traditional feminine roles.

Dr Stuart Murray from the Redleaf Practice, who led this study, explained,“This does not mean that that the men with anorexia were any less masculine, nor that the men with muscle dysmorphia were less feminine than the control subjects we recruited. It is however an indication of the increasing pressures men are under to define their masculinity in the modern world.”

NewsRelease_Eating disorders muscle dysmorphia and self perceived

Thanks to Dr Hilary Glover,Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central

Her references
1. Masculinity and femininity in the divergence of male body image concerns
Stuart B Murray, Elizabeth Rieger, Lisa Karlov and Stephen W Touyz
Journal of Eating Disorders (in press)

2. Journal of Eating Disorders is the first open access, peer-reviewed journal publishing leading research in the science and clinical practice of eating disorders. @JEatDisord