The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a mental health issue that is often overlooked. Even worse, it may be just as prominent among boys and men but is not as often diagnosed due to societal stigma and other factors.
This article will explore the relationship between masculinity and body dysmorphic disorder including covering topics such as what may cause men to develop the condition and how it can be treated.
Masculinity and Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Whether it’s poring over questions like the benefit of BCAAs for bodybuilding or obsessing over how they look in the mirror, many boys and men spend a lot of time worrying about their physical appearance.
But what exactly is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and how can it affect boys and men in particular?
BDD is a condition that generally involves an obsessive concern over physical appearance. It also involves body dysmorphia, which is the inability to objectively observe one’s body, leading to constant dissatisfaction no matter how chiseled and toned one might be.
BDD is complex, but fortunately there are many resources available online nowadays, such as those offered by BetterHelp: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/body-dysmorphic-disorder/
What May Cause BDD in Boys and Men?
Now, let’s take a look at various factors that may contribute to the development of BDD in boys and men.
In the age of the internet and social media, it’s all too easy to see “perfect” bodies all day long. Whether we realize it or not, we may find ourselves actively comparing ourselves to these other bodies.
Such constant comparing may lead some boys and men to think negatively about their own bodies. They may wish they had the physique of so-and-so actor playing so-and-so superhero. When you factor in how much photoshop, filtering, and lighting is used on social media and in Hollywood, and the fact that social media is generally a “highlight reel” only, it makes the comparing even less realist and more harmful.
Society has long had the stereotype that boys and men should be strong. Nowadays, more and more boys and men feel that they may not succeed socially if they do not pay careful attention to their bodies.
To succeed in sports, or to attract friends and romantic partners, they may feel external pressure to work out and look like the men on the front of magazines and starring in action films.
Lack of Self-esteem
A lack of self-esteem is commonplace among those who have BDD. The feelings of inadequacy are worsened by the previous two factors and are generally required for boys and men to get to a place where they may be diagnosed with BDD.
How to Treat BDD in Boys and Men?
But how do we treat body dysmorphia disorder (BDD) in boys and men? What can be done? The good news is that there is help available.
Unfollowing people who make you feel bad about your own body—even if it isn’t directly their fault—is a good start. A complete social media detox, however, may be even better.
In general, try to focus on your own happiness and well-being and worry less about how you compare to others.
The mere fact of having a healthy—or even relatively healthy—body is a true blessing. Instead of worrying about your pectorals or your abdominal muscles, consider what you already have to be grateful for. Doing so may help reduce symptoms of BDD.
If you think you may have BDD, it is best to seek help from a professional. You may want to talk to your doctor or seek the help of a licensed therapist or counselor. They will be able to help diagnose you and work on how you can turn your negative feelings about your body into positive ones.
Ultimately, society tells us that there’s one easy way to be attractive as a man, and that’s by having a killer body.
Yet, these bodies are just shells, and we are so much more as people. When we forget that, we may succumb to the pressures of society and compare ourselves to what we see in social media and Hollywood, which often leads to feelings of inadequacy.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) may be difficult to handle, but you can get help for it. Don’t hesitate to seek treatment if you feel you may need some help in overcoming it.