Lead guitarist of The Vamps, James Brittain-McVey, recently about the pressures he experienced with his body image. These pressures, which began when he was a teenager, led him to undergo liposuction at age 20.
Speaking to a on body image and mental health, he told MPs that he had struggled with anorexia since he was a teenager and that he still feels pressure to “look a certain way”.
Brittain-McVey is not alone in his struggles with body image. It’s estimated that are anxious about their weight and that are dissatisfied with their muscularity.
Many men desire a lean and – which is often seen as synonymous with .
But without proper support, body image issues can have a on both physical and mental health.
Yet many men are hesitant to speak up about their body image issues – largely because of the .
Brittain-McVey also highlighted in his discussion with MPs the lack of support available for young men experiencing body image issues – which could further worsen poor mental health for those already struggling.
Mental Health Problems
Negative body image is more than just disliking the way your body looks – its outcomes can often be debilitating. Research shows that, in men, body image issues are linked with lower self-esteem, lower life satisfaction and a lack of confidence.
Body image issues can also lead to a host of mental health problems, such as severe anxiety and depression. It’s estimated that around one in ten men have experienced suicidal thoughts and feelings and 4% have deliberately hurt themselves because of their body image issues
Body image issues can also lead to and – an extreme preoccupation with having muscles. – an insatiable – has also been reported as a consequence of negative body image.
Not only can this lead to burnout and injury, it can in turn cause and increases risk of developing an . It can also have a severe impact on a person’s social and work life, and may lead to other unhealthy behaviours – such as abusing to build muscle.
These concerns have likely only become worse over the course of the pandemic. In a , my colleagues and I showed pandemic-related stress and anxiety were linked with men’s dissatisfaction with their weight and muscles.
Many experts think the increase in men struggling with negative body image is due to the influence of .
Men often compare themselves to the hyper-muscular or lean models they see in action movies and health and fitness magazines. Because these comparisons are , it increases the likelihood of experiencing weight and muscularity concerns.
In fact, have shown that when men are exposed to idealised depictions of appearance in various forms of mass media, they end up about their own bodies.
Social media only . Apps like Instagram are featuring hyper-muscular and lean men – and these posts often receive very high numbers of likes and comments.
Unsurprisingly, have found that men who frequently engage with these kinds of social media posts tend to have a more negative body image.
But it can sometimes be easy to over-emphasise the importance of social media – or any mass media, for that matter – on men’s body image. has suggested that the link between media exposure and negative body image may be very weak in men. Instead, it is likely that a range of sources – mass media, parents, peers – to negative body image in men.
Body image issues are often viewed as a problem that – leaving many men about their problems with friends and family or seek professional help.
While men are increasingly encouraged to talk about their mental health, being open about body image concerns can still feel tricky – especially if men worry about or being stigmatised and dismissed by others.
Health services can play an important role in helping men receive the help they need, but healthcare professionals are to address body image issues in men because of a lack of knowledge, limited time and resources and inadequate training and guidelines on how to assist men.
Even when men seek help, they are sometimes dismissed or because negative body image is viewed as a “woman’s illness”. But when men are able to access preferred healthcare pathways for body image concerns, they often to treatment.
Raising awareness more widely in society about negative body image in men is also crucial. An increasing number of men have opened up about their body image struggles – including other celebrities such as talk show host and .
Bringing greater awareness to the fact that many men struggle with body image is one way of normalising the experience and helping men to recognise symptoms and seek help before their experiences become debilitating.
(This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)