Boys’ Body Image Should be Addressed
A recent survey conducted by the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders found that boys between the ages of 15 and 19 are just as likely as girls to have body image issues. Body image issues are often thought to be a girls-only problem as girls’ body image is more widely discussed. However, the discussion about boys’ body image needs to become more widespread. The study found that 31.1 percent of young people consider body image to a stressful part of their lives. Teens are deeply enmeshed in digital media where altered images and advertisements are constant. Numerous studies have linked the amount of time teens spend on social media to their feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, and body image.
It is often thought that markets geared toward women are more aggressive in defining beauty ideals. Men, as the stereotype goes, are meant to be strong and physically capable. Therefore, the pervasive body ideal for men is seen as acceptable, because “that’s how men should be”. Log onto a website like Men’s Fitness or Men’s Health and be met with a pop-up asking which area of the body you want to focus on sculpting. To opt out of the window, the option is clicking “No thanks, I don’t want to be ripped”. Language like this, “ripped” “shredded” “jacked” “sculpted” “chiseled”, is what defines the male body image. The new look for males is no longer the long and lean body type of recent years, but a thick muscle mass with finely defined muscles. According to the mainstream narrative, every man should be able to achieve this body. If a man, or a young boy, or a teenager doesn’t achieve this body, his body is inferior. As a result of the male stereotype, being an inferior male means being a weak male.
Body positivity has been a growing movement for girls and women but it hasn’t quite stemmed to boys yet. Talking about the body is talking vulnerably for boys, which is something boys are largely uncomfortable with. However, talking about body image with boys is important. Though men aren’t a large population for eating disorders, there are some disordered eating patterns more male-oriented which can cause problems physically and psychologically. Men can turn to steroid abuse, over-exercising, and intensely restrictive diets as a way to try and cope with their physical “imperfections”.
Boys need to be reminded that body image, that is how the body looks on the outside, does not define who they are or how they feel about themselves. Self-esteem, it is said, is achieved through esteemable acts. Boys can learn how to act in a way that helps them feel good about themselves. In the process, they can workout, play sports, eat a healthy balanced diet, and take more esteemable actions toward supporting their body.
Treatment should effectively transform life from the bottom up. Our programs for adolescent and teenage boys at Stonewater Adolescent Recovery help build a positive foundation while providing life cleansing therapies for healing. Call us today for information on our residential programs with academic support: 1-662-598-4214