By Men's Health Clinic
Are you comfortable with your body? Do you ever get disappointed that you haven’t met a certain standard for yourself regarding looks and physique? You’re not alone.
According to one study, millions of men have been found to have issues with their body image. Three out of ten adult men aged 18 reported feeling anxiety over such issues.
One out of five males said they had been made to compare themselves to others in a negative light. One out of five males also reported that such concerns have already forced them to dress in a manner that obscures parts of their body.
With these statistics, we can conclude that male body image issues are definitely no joke. But while they’re already big issues, their effects on factors like mental health and sexual well-being are something we can’t forget.
With the interconnected nature of social media and other tech-based factors, most people are now plugged in all the time. Statistics define 64.6% of the global population (5.19 billion users) as being internet users. Out of this segment, 59.9% (4.88 billion users) are social media users.
So, you can imagine what happens when social media enables societal pressures. When your daily feed is filled with posts, reels, and highlights about friends and strangers going to the gym and maintaining the ultimate physique, you might not be so comfortable with what you have.
It gets even more complicated when you come from particular cultures that highlight certain expectations, archetypes, and stereotypes of what the “ideal” male should look like. For example, Asian-American individuals were found to be more dissatisfied with their bodies compared to their white counterparts. The same research discovered that Asian male adolescents have a higher rate of body dissatisfaction compared to other ethnic groups.
Research suggests that minorities such as Black and Indigenous People of Color are usually more encouraged to invest in their bodies’ appearances as a source of power and privilege to make up for the inherent disadvantage they have in majority-white populaces.
Of course, there are many other related and unrelated sources of male body image issues.
Some sources suggest that men’s body image issues are being pushed by global industries that target male body dissatisfaction in order to profit off of each male’s quest for fulfilment. Want to feel like a man? Buy this specific drink, get this brand of body spray, and more.
As you can easily imagine, male body image issues have quite an effect on mental health.
In a 2021 survey, over half of men in the UK were reported to have claimed that poor body image affected their mental health negatively. The statistics pointed to 48% of men between the ages of 16-40 who claim to have struggled with their body’s physical appearance. Of the people surveyed, only 26% could say they were satisfied with their current looks.
Further research shows that people with negative body image tend to have more chances of isolation, depression, loss of self-confidence, unhealthy fixation on weight loss, and even eating disorders. As you may guess, obesity is also a risk factor for specific disorders like anxiety. Those known to be diagnosed with obesity are also at additional risk with more physical and emotional disorders that create more negative factors to deal with.
As we mentioned earlier, men within minority groups are especially encouraged to invest in their body appearances to level the playing field in terms of power and privilege. The fear and anxiety present can lead to something called minority stress. It is a heightened preoccupation with appearance and, in some cases, a disturbing overfocus on modifying appearance that could be harmful in the long term.
Where do these issues stand in relation to other aspects like sexual health?
In one study conducted by the University of Missouri that focused on sexual hook-ups between adults, researchers found that negative body image was usually affiliated with dysfunctions during sex. On the other hand, positive body image was usually associated with increased pleasure during hook-ups.
The same study found that men have a more significant connection with body image when it comes to sexual health versus women, where the connection was less of a factor.
Another study focused on sexual functioning within gay and bisexual men found that factors like low body esteem were possible symptoms for issues such as erectile dysfunction. Aside from that, negative body image issues during sex were also considered to be associated with dysfunctions like premature ejaculation.
One of the things pointed out in the earlier research was how high self-esteem could actually act as a protective measure against things like media influence. But not all of us are gifted with that kind of background or history. So here are some suggestions we’ve compiled to help promote your own self-esteem and self-acceptance of body image:
Self-compassion is all about showing yourself the same measure of compassion that you would give to anyone you cared about. Self-care is about taking the time to do things that will improve your life, even with just the small things like making sleep a priority or getting regular exercise.
Notable studies recommend that you must focus on finding quality friendships instead of just getting as many friends as possible. This has been linked to higher and longer-lasting satisfaction from surveyed respondents.
Focus on what you can change instead of stressing over things you have no power to influence. Other people’s opinions about you are something you can’t directly influence as they will always have something to say. Don’t let their opinions distract you. Just focus on your passion, your health, and your overall happiness, in which you have control over.
Assuming you have the financial capability, seeking a trusted professional should be something to consider. Even if you seldom meet with a professional, just the idea of having someone you can trust to air out your negative thoughts to can help strengthen your confidence and reduce your overall anxiety.
Male body image issues can contribute to sexual dysfunction, such as ED and PE. Negative body image can lead to anxiety, stress, and reduced self-confidence, impacting sexual performance.
Psychological factors like low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and performance anxiety are linked to male body image issues, affecting sexual performance and satisfaction.
Effective strategies for addressing male body image concerns include therapy, self-acceptance, and body-positive approaches. These interventions can improve body image, boost self-confidence, and potentially alleviate sexual dysfunction.
It’s clear that male body image issues aren’t something to just snort at. In a time when everyone is showing off their ‘best self’ offline and online, it’s very easy to become disillusioned with your own looks.
Self-acceptance is not something anyone can just gain overnight or accomplish once. Just like exercise, you must keep working at it a bit every day to maintain your well-being.
If you encounter erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation along the way, Men’s Health Clinic (MHC) can help you by providing comprehensive and personalised treatments. We also have mental health experts who can help you with body image issues. Answer this two-minute questionnaire to start your treatment.
With one of our Senior Patient Coordinators who can provide you with more information regarding bespoke treatment options.