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Extreme body image in media impacts males too

Published: Friday, May 16 2014 4:55 a.m. MDT

She also said Americans (who have become more health and diet-conscious in recent years, according to a 2011 Harris Poll) strive to obtain these star-like physiques because they equate perfect bodies with satisfactory lives.

“We have images in the media of this everywhere, as if the key to a fulfilling life comes with a perfectly sculpted body that eats a perfectly healthy diet and exercises to their personal limit every day,” she said. “For men, the average guy is usually an image that is being poked fun at or someone who is looking unhappy because they are overweight.”

Mike Robbins — a personal development expert, author and former professional baseball player who openly speaks about his body image issues — added the media reflects our culture’s obsession with youth.

“I think we’ve moved in this direction in our culture where it’s all about perfection. … For men it’s about strength and virility,” Robbins said. “Somehow the natural aging process is seen as a bad thing.”

Finding body satisfaction

So what can males do to avoid focusing too much on cultural ideas of male perfection and develop a healthier body image?

Dr. Courtenay said to realize the Adonis-like men one sees in the media are often artificial.

“Don't buy into attaining the impossibly handsome and muscular bodies portrayed in television, movies and video games — many of which were manufactured, either digitally or with drugs like steroids,” he said. “They're the exception.”

Robbins recommended men, who do not often discuss their body issues, to talk about their insecurities and reach out to others so they can gain support. “It’s OK to struggle with (your appearance), it’s not just a female issue, it’s a human issue,” Robbins said.

Brennan advised people to remember “a perfect body does not equal life satisfaction.”

“A perfect body will also not protect you from the hardships of life — learning to live with all your painful thoughts, feelings and body sensations and do what you value is how we strive to help those on their recovery journeys,” she said.

And Cuban offered the following advice for parents whose children (male or female) have poor body image issues:

“If your child is suffering from body image issues or an eating disorder, it's not your fault. ... There is no shame in a child having these issues. The only failure for a parent is if you allow shame to keep you from putting your child in a position to recover.”

Email: kpolatis@deseretnews.com Twitter: KandraPolatis

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