When we think of body image issues, we often think of girls. As a culture, we place a higher emphasis on body image on the feminine form than we do the male form. However, males of all ages face body image expectations as well as body image discriminations. The heavy focus on female body image often inspires males to feel as though they cannot express their issues with body image insecurities because it’s a “girl problem” and boys shouldn’t have those problems. Just as females are faced with ideal body shapes, sizes, and facial appearances, males are faced with ideals of physique, height, and facial structures. Young boys struggle with body image and self-confidence as their bodies start changing to go through puberty. As some boys rapidly develop, others take time. A new study published in Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse found that there might be a correlation between the way boys perceive their attractiveness and their body image and the substances they abuse. Boys’ body type ideals often rest in extremes. The idealized male physique is often one that is muscular, lean, and fit. With this as the idealized “norm,” boys either perceive themselves as too thin, meaning they do not have enough muscle mass, or too fat, meaning they have too much body and not enough muscle. Researchers found that boys who believe they are too skinny compared to the idealized male body type were more likely to abuse substances like tobacco. Boys who identified themselves as “fat” were more likely to participate in binge drinking. Substance abuse to cope with the difficult emotions involving poor body image can lead to a detrimental relationship later in life. When young boys learn to cope with their difficult feelings, spurring from unhealthy or unrealistic beliefs, they create a programming in their brain. Ongoing, new challenges, difficult feelings, or painful beliefs about the self will trigger cravings for substance abuse as a method of coping. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle for young men that includes fitness training and proper diet is essential to helping them avoid negative body image issues and instead build a solid foundation of confidence that will negate the need for artificial mood boosters like drugs and alcohol. When substance abuse has already entered the picture, it’s time to take structured steps toward introducing a healthy lifestyle to bolster self confidence and encourage a substance-free lifestyle.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is a residential treatment program offering inpatient to adolescent males needing recovery from addiction. Our family has lived through addiction and recovery. We offer you our clinical expertise and personal experience through our clinically driven program. Building a positive foundation through life cleansing therapies, we see confidence build in each of our patients. For information, call us today: 662-598-4214.