Chasing The Perfect Body: The Joys and Dangers

Is the media making us blokes worry too much about the way we look? Jack thinks so. And it’s time to take stock of the important things in life.

Male Body Image

We all want to look good. Be our best self. Stay fit and healthy. But when does looking after our appearance cross the line into something darker, and potentially more worrying?

From  Love Island to Take Me Out, Instagram feeds to YouTube health channels, never before has the male physique been in the spotlight to such a glaring degree.

When six-packs and boulder-shoulders are considered must-have accessories, and when even a music star  can’t appear on TV with a receding hairline without the tabloid press having a field day, it’s little wonder blokes are beginning to feel that, without the perfect body, they’re just not up to scratch.

So Jack thinks it’s about time we all took stock of the situation, and realised what the important things in life are. And, really, it’s not the size of your bicep. It’s never the size of your bicep.

Over on the excellent young person’s support website, The Mix, they’ve looked at this issue, and have come up with some pretty excellent advice. We’d definitely recommend you take a look.

“As humans we come in all shapes and sizes,” they say.  “Being subject to one particular body type may cause those who identify as male to feel pressured into looking one particular way.”

But while wanting to look our best is fine, wanting to emulate a movie or Instagram star really isn’t all that healthy. It’s all about being the best version of ourselves that matters: being happy, confident and healthy is going to put us in the best place possible to deal with everything that life throws at us.

“The media can sow the idea that your body, in whatever glorious form it comes in, is not good enough unless it meets a muscular ideal,” says The Mix.

“This could push some men to take unhealthy measures to try and reach these unattainable bodies. As a result, some men may be taking extreme steps... taking anabolic steroids.”

Even potentially healthy things like exercise and dieting can be pushed too far, and result in damage to our physical and mental well-being (which is ironic, when you think about it). Chasing unrealistic goals is only going to lead to feelings of inadequacy. Working on being comfortable with who you are inside is always the best route to happiness.

So how do you know if you’re going too far? Fortunately, the excellent people at the Body Dysmorphic Foundation have looked into it, and have come up with a checklist of things to watch out for.

“Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder is a type of Body Dysmorphic Disorder,” they say. It’s also known as “Bigorexia” in the media. “It consists of a preoccupation with not being sufficiently muscular, and bodybuilding gyms are a breeding ground for it.”

Of course, we’re not going to tell you not to go to the gym. It’s one of the best things you can do to clear your head, stay fit, healthy and stay social with your mates. But as the Body Dysmorphic people say, there’s a fine line between doing three sets of 12 reps three times a week, and getting a little carried away with it all and literally only living for the time that you’re pumping muscle.

Jack says relax. Some day, you’ll look back on today and realise: hey, I looked pretty good. So enjoy life. Be active. Stay focussed on friends, work, free time and, yes, occasionally your lunges. But don’t let them take over your life. There’s a whole world out there to enjoy. So go and grab it.

If you’re worried, have a look at the Body Dysmorphic Foundation’s check list.