According to new research from Benenden Health, almost as many men as women now stress over their body image. The study examined the body confidence of 2,000 men and women, showing that there’s been a startling increase in self-image related anxieties for each sex. In fact, some 75% of men feel that their physical appearance matters much more now than it did to preceding generations.
David LaPorte, an Indiana University psychologist who’s studied perceptions about body image says, “Guys are just a couple of decades behind women of going down this really awful road.”
Men are now spending more than three hours per week stressing over their appearance, feeling that the societal expectation being placed on them is increasing. What’s more, more men are now dressing for the body shape, discussing their appearance with their partners, and one in eight men are even secretly dieting.
“Our research shows that body hang-ups can have an effect on people of all shapes, sizes and genders – whether it relates to weight, body shape or clothing, both men and women can feel at times under pressure to live up to ‘expectation,'” said a spokesperson from Benenden Health.
The two biggest concerns in regards to men’s appearance are baldness and “moobs,” a colloquial term referring to larger-than-average, male breasts.
“Because there have been so many different products that have been offered to women traditionally, men have been looking for something,” explains Bryce Cleveland, CEO of Scalp Aesthetics. “Things like hair loss have come to the forefront. Men want to know what’s been offered to women that can now be offered to them.”
According to a similar study–the TODAY/AOL Body Image survey, men now worry more about their physical appearance than they do about their own well being, their career, or their family. The survey’s findings were actually quite startling. More than half (53%) of men reported feeling insecure about their physical appearance once a week. Another 53% said that they didn’t like getting their picture taken and 63% said that they always feel like they could lose weight. What’s more, 44% of surveyed men said that don’t feel comfortable in swim trunks, and 41% said that they fear others’ judgments.
“What is worrying is the levels of people who are experiencing real anxiety or stress as a result of these negative views about their appearance,” said the Benenden Health spokesperson. “By comparing yourself to unrealistic ideals about what is ‘perfect’ you can put yourself under pressure to meet idealistic expectations and consequently suffer stress and anxiety which can have a negative impact on your health and well-being.”
If body image anxieties begin to get too much, both men and women should seek professional help. According to the spokesperson, “Individuals shouldn’t be afraid to talk to a counsellor or therapist if their negative beliefs about their body shape is having a severe impact on their well-being.”