Although body image issues are stereotypically experienced by girls and women, body image issues are becoming increasingly common amongst guys. Get the facts to help you identify when negative body image becomes an issue, how to improve it, and what to do if nothing’s working.
- You constantly stress about how you look
- You feel like body image issues don’t happen to guys
- You want some tips to help you improve your body image
What is body image?
Many guys feel pressured to look and act like the stereotypical ‘real man,’ and as a result just under a quarter of young guys who are in the healthy weight range think that they’re overweight. The truth is that everyone’s bodies are different, and although men are less likely to talk about body image concerns than girls, heaps of guys still experience them.
Is negative body image a problem for you?
Eating well and staying fit are important parts of a healthy lifestyle but being conscious of your body can quickly become a problem when it starts to take-over your life.You might be experiencing body image problems if you:
- Constantly feel inadequate about your body
- Avoid doing certain things because you’re worried, stressed or anxious about how you look
- Are obsessed with certain physical characteristics (e.g. facial hair, muscles)
- Constantly compare yourself with others
- Constantly look into the mirror and criticise yourself
- Are extremely self-conscious about having your photo taken
- Call yourself negative names like, ‘ugly’, ‘gross’ or ‘disgusting’
- Constantly think about the nutritional value of the food you eat
- Blame yourself when you forget to exercise or eat ‘unhealthy’ food
- Use food or exercising for comfort
- Take supplements or dangerous substances like steroids and hormones to get bigger muscles
Experiencing these things can have some really negative effects on your life, such as:
- Self-esteem problems
- Shyness, social anxiety and feeling like you don’t want to socialize with anyone.
- Exercising too little or too much
How to improve your negative body image?
Whilst you might not be able to improve a negative body image overnight, it is possible. In most cases, the first step is always to make the decision to make the change and to stay motivated with the decision. You can:
- Find a balance between ignoring, and worshiping the body – adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat well and stay fit but don’t let it dominate your life.
- Develop a personal identity including, but not based exclusively on your size and shape – know your strengths, like a sense of humour or sports abilities, and use them to your advantage.
- Recognise how awesome it is that your body is functioning well, and allowing you to do things some people can’t – be grateful for what your body can do more than what your body looks like.
- Consult a counsellor, psychologist or professional to help with your negative experiences that might influence your body image issue(s) – negative experiences like bullying, sexual abuse and so on can have negative impact on your body image.
- Make informed choices about your food intake (including supplements) and exercising by reading up on true scientific and medical based information – if there is a need to take supplements, consult your GP or another health professional. If you think there are problems with your diet, consult a dietitian.
- Develop close and comfortable relationships with your family, partner and/or friend – your appearance shouldn’t matter.
- Remind yourself that the images you see in magazines are all fake and photoshopped anyway; they are meant to be ‘unattainable,’ so that you feel bad about yourself and are more likely to buy whatever it is they are selling.
If you are feeling inadequate about your body or yourself in general, it may be worth talking to someone about it. This may be a family member, friend, teacher or counsellor. Remember that you are not alone, and that this is an issue that lots of guys struggle with.