Body Dysmorhphia

Body Dysmorphia is a mental health issue associated in the public’s mind with women rather than men…

…this comes as little surprise when you think about the societal expectations that have been put on each gender over the last decades.

Those expectations have slowly been changing though and as a result men and women are now subject to a much wider range of social pressures ranging from cultural expectations to how they should conduct their relationships, to how their bodies should look and how they should dress.

The way that we perceive our culture has changed irrevocably over the last century. Just take a look at this photo from the 19th Century:

These men are certainly stylish, but there’s a great deal of similarity between what they’re wearing. At this point in time society expected the individual to conform to the norms and individuals¬†wanted to do so. In order to fit in with society and avoid vilification the individual had to sacrifice a certain amount of autonomy and personal choice – but once they had to so they could be considered a part of the wider society. This wide-reaching cultural identity was enforced through interpersonal connections and persisted due to the lack of social mobility that existed at the time.

Flash forward to the 21st century and it’s clear that things have changed somewhat. Take a look at this photo:

Today people of all different walks of life mingle and present themselves in whatever way their own culture dictates. Thanks to globalisation and the growing influence that the internet has on us we are no longer expected to conform to a specific fashion or style, how we choose to present ourselves is completely dependant on the complex set of social rules that are dictated by our upbringing, our perceived social ranking and our own cultural preference, to name a few.

By enveloping ourselves in our personal cultural bubbles we have become more susceptible than ever to developing psychological issues that affect how we choose to lead our lives from the clothes we wear to the food we eat and how we spend our spare time. The insular nature of technology is pervasive and subtle at the same time, many people do not consider the effect that it has on them and allow their minds to be freely manipulated by the whims of social pressures which has led to a rise in Body Dysmorphia in both men and women across all ages.

People are growing increasingly uncomfortable with their bodies and, unfortunately, this discomfort does not remain internalised. Men and women are now acting upon their compulsions. Breast enlargement/enhancement surgery is at an all time high, as well as minor surgeries such as botox fillers and it’s not just women who are going under the knife in order to readjust their image. In a recent study it was found that the prevalence of Body Dysmorphia is actually higher in men than it is in women.

‘Bigorexia’ is the new term given to men who believe themselves to not be large enough and it’s a condition that is starting to pick up steam without any sign of slowing…


Jacob Meyersmith is the site editor for Young People In Focus who works as a freelance web developer, he’s a self-confessed nerd who likes to keep one eye on societal shifts.

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