Self perceived masculinity is higher in men with muscle dysmorphia, popularly called 'bigorexia', than other gym users, while male patients with anorexia nervosa had elevated association with feminine stereotypes, finds research in Biomed Central's open access journal Journal of Eating Disorders.
Research over the last several decades has shown that increasingly men are admitting 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 sexuality 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 the study 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."
- Stuart B Murray, Elizabeth Rieger, Lisa Karlov, Stephen W Touyz. Masculinity and femininity in the divergence of male body image concerns. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2013; 1 (1): 11 DOI: 10.1186/2050-2974-1-11
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