A human concern

If you’re a woman you probably worry about your appearance. Female body issues have increasingly been a topic of conversation over the last several years; it’s out in the open and everyone seems to know of the anxiety women have over seeing itsy-bitsy runway models or perfectly photoshopped actresses on magazine covers. However, we seem to have forgotten about the other half of the population — guys are also bombarded with images of the “ideal body.” The only difference is that the “flawless slender look” for women is replaced with muscles, muscles and more muscles.

Take the reality show The Bachelor — a perfectly sculpted body seems to be a prerequisite for being on that program. The topless montages are endless, everything from slowly buttoning up a dress shirt to half-naked frolicking on a beach. Perhaps The Bachelor is a bad example, seeing as the demographic for that show is overwhelmingly women. How about walking into an Abercrombie and Fitch store? Met by Hercules No. 1 and Hercules No. 2 at the entrance, you can see how men are similarly confronted with images of physical bodies to which they must aspire.

According to a recent study by Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, from the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, men have similar, if not more pronounced concerns about their bodies. The findings resulted from a survey of 394 British men.

The study found that four out of five men discussed appearance in a negative light. Three out of five men were affected, in a bad way, by this kind of body talk. The media and celebrities were blamed for reinforcing physical ideals to which the men felt they must conform.

Shockingly, 12 per cent of these men said that they would sacrifice an entire year off their life in exchange for their ideal body.

Diedrichs reports that many of the men have engaged in risky behaviours in an attempt to become happier about their bodies — exercising compulsively, strict dieting, laxative abuse or inducing vomit.

While more research needs to be conducted on this topic, the findings from this study are certainly interesting and insightful. Generally speaking, Diedrichs’s study seems to prove that a Y chromosome doesn’t exempt a man from feelings of insecurity. Girls: Remember this the next time you are tempted to make a comment about your brother’s scrawniness or your Dad’s “beer belly.” Body anxiety is not just limited to women; it’s a human concern.