As demonstrated by the recent media attention to the effects of Instagram and other social media on teenage girls’ body image, we all are bombarded every day by images of the media’s idea of the perfect body.
We tend to focus on the pressure women feel to be thin and flawless. Not as much attention is paid to the male images portrayed in the media, but the pressure felt by men of all ages can be just as great. The “perfect” male is expected to be well muscled with great definition and no excessive body fat. His hair and skin are perfectly groomed and his complexion flawless.
It should come as no surprise, then, that eating disorders are almost as common in men of all ages as women. They are not as known or understood because of the pressure on men to appear strong and macho, thereby inhibiting their desire to seek help. Even subtle signs like excessive exercising or unhealthy fasting can be signs of an underlying unhealthy eating disorder
How do we overcome this pressure by the culture to achieve perfection, and the temptation to achieve perfection by unhealthy means?
Dr. Lisa has great advice for her adolescent patients facing body image concerns. She tells them that the perfect body is the one that serves you best. If you are an athlete, you may need a physique different from that of an artist or a dancer. In any case, the focus must be on health. And no matter what, we must try to do what we can to love ourselves as we are, and know that we are enough!
Wishing you Peace!
Dr. John Monaco