From: Scott Chase (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 08 May 2005 - 00:29:22 GMT
My recent reply to Bill had me thinking about
distortion of body image. I remember getting exposed
to some notions of female eating disorders like
anorexia having something to do with distortion in
body image. There's a separate designation in the
DSM-IV-TR (4th ed) for something called "Body
Dysmorphic Disorder" which excludes cases of anorexia,
but does includes body image distortions of various
feature characteristics like nose, genitals, breasts
and muscularity. It seems that male BDD is an actual
area of ongoing research and social criticism. There
have been terms coined like "bigorexia" (which I've
traced back to the mid-eighties in and article of
August 12, 1985's _People Weekly_ that talks about the
"Barbarian Brothers" whomever they were (???) and a May 20, 1987 article in the _Miami Herald_ newspaper. There's something called the "Adonis complex" that's the title of a 2000 book by Pope, Phillips, and Olivardia called _The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession_. Hmmmm...
So body image issues aren't just for women. I know I
had a preoccupation with working out for a while and
was rather happy with my gains (much of which I've
lost in my present lethargic state). I mixed my fair
share of protein and carb-loading (or bloating is more
like it) shakes and went from roughly 170lbs to over
200lbs over a period of years. Never did the juice,
thank goodness. But I understand the temptation. I
don't think I was obsessed enough to have needed
psychiatric help, but the "bigorexia" label is apt.
I can't say that body-building is a bad thing. Maybe
the craze or the popular images conveyed have gotten
out of hand. What's the difference between a teenage
girl puking in a toilet to look like a waif and a
teenage boy compulsively mixing multiple protein
shakes every day to gain bulk, besides the net
direction the food takes? Or maybe the boy taking
steroids is a better comparison to the girl
endangering her health by forced regurgitation. It has
gotten out of hand in both instances and maybe popular
images have some influence.
Should we blame media (cue Vince)? Lorenzen, Grieve
and Thomas (2004. Exposure to muscular male models
decreases men's body satisfaction. Sex Roles (51):
743-748) explored the impact of viewing muscular
images on men and assert: "Similar to women who look
to the media for cultural standards of an attractive
body ideal, men may also be susceptible to
interpreting a muscular body ideal from media images."
Not sure how good their methods were or the validity
of their results, but it shows people are studying
this stuff. And of course the media is to blame.
Aren't they always :-)
There's apparently research comparing "Eastern"
(Taiwanese) men versus "Western" men that makes it seem that this is more of a Western affliction. But what about the body image of the Japanese Sumo wrestler who can't keep up his weight? Is this a reasonable question?
There's a marketing article (Vogel. 2005. Boost
business with positive body image marketing: help your
clients gain a healthy perspective on what it truly
means to be fit. IDEA Fitness Journal (2):34-6) that
takes a more responsible approach acknowledging the
body image distortion problems and warning not to
"alienat(e) prospective clients" by going overboard on the washboard abs. Thus "memetic engineering" might be attenuating its viral messages ;-)
But on the other hand, I wonder if this "Adonis
complex" might become a problem where school
counselers and behavior professionals like
psychologists and psychiatrists go overboard and see
bigorexia everywhere they look and start prescribing
antidepressants for yet another disorder.
Maybe this "Adonis complex" is a recent phenomena that
has resulted from the onslaught of bodybuilding media
or something always there but just recently
accelerated. Maybe its also a crisis created by its
recognition and diagnosis in the sense that
professionals have a new way of looking at things and
think its a novel condition or that it's lurking
around every corner.
So not only can we look at the social problems
influencing bigorexia as a disorder but tendencies of
the behavioral scientists that study bigorexia to
A protein shake for thought...
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