The Adonis Complex - The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession
by Harrison G. Pope Jr. M.D., et al.
see them everywhere. With their bulging arms and deltoids and pecs,
not to mention their rippling abdominal muscles, they appear on
magazine covers, in underwear ads, in action movies. And American
men have noticed them; after a generation of being bombarded by
images of idealized male physiques, men are growing increasingly
insecure about their own appearance.
The authors have studied everything from
bodybuilders to Playgirl centerfolds and concluded that the
images presented to men and women have gotten steadily more
muscular. As a result of this bombardment of pumped-up male
imagery, American men have been developing eating disorders,
working out to the point of obsession, and taking steroids. None
of this is for health or sports performance but rather to develop
a physique that matches those seen on the cover of Muscle &
Fitness or in the next squat rack over.
Another consequence is a condition the authors
call "muscle dysmorphia," also known as "reverse
anorexia" or just "bigorexia." In this, men who are
large and muscular look in the mirror and see someone who is puny
and frail. So they pump iron and eat and take steroids and swell
to ever-larger proportions, while being too ashamed of their
bodies to take off their sweatshirts at the beach.
The authors postulate that all this has to do
with the rising power of women in society. To back this up, they
produce timelines showing how women's-rights milestones correlate
with increasing images of men as sex objects.
What's the solution? The authors list some Web
sites to help men suffering from the Adonis Complex to find
therapists familiar with the problem. Sometimes antidepressants
can work. But for most people, the answer is to understand that
the images of perfect male physiques they see are unattainable,
and that no one really expects them to look like that anyway. --Lou
About-Face is a media literacy
organization focused on the impact mass media has on the physical,
mental and emotional well being of women and girls. Through
practical and activist methods we challenge our culture's
overemphasis on physical appearance. By encouraging critical
thinking about the media, and personal empowerment, About-Face
works to engender positive body-esteem in girls and women of all
ages, sizes, races and backgrounds. About-Face provides a place
where all women count, from the tiniest among us to the very
ICONS OF BEAUTY are conning the American woman
into a costly, dangerous and futile pursuit: the perfect body.
For both men and women, this site hosts a large
annotated list of body image resources, including magazines,
programs, eating disorders, and much more.
Essay by Tori DeAngelis
Researchers are studying how gender, ethnicity
and culture intersect with body-image and eating disorders.
Maintained by an anorexia and bulimia survivor, this extensive resource provides support tools, a therapy checklist and related links.
Essay by Heather
Over the past fifteen or twenty years, eating
disorders (specifically anorexia and bulimia) have begun to be
acknowledged as serious problems. The media has told the world
about the deaths of well-known performers and athletes who have
died as a direct result of their eating disorder. The media can be
somewhat hypocritical however, in that we may read an article
about someone suffering or dying from anorexia on one page, and
have an clothing advertisement with a clearly underweight model on
the very next page...
According to Psychology Today's 1997 Body Image
Survey, more people are dissatisfied with their bodies today than
ever before. The 1997 survey followed the landmark survey of 1985,
among the most widely quoted on the subject. Respondents were
asked to fill a five page questionnaire on how they saw, felt and
were influenced by their bodies.
Growing up gay in a straight world can increase
young men's vulnerability to body image problems. The search by
gay men for identity and acceptance has become overly focused on
having a lean muscular body. The issues are complex. A lean
muscular body may help a young gay male feel safer in a homophobic
society, as it counters the negative feminine stereotype. Problems
surface when ...
By Susan K. Stevenson, DCH(c)
As women of the 90's, we are confronted with a
myriad of images, roles, concepts and possibilities. As a whole,
we do everything within our reach to look our best, be our best,
do our best in the many facets of our lives. We strive to express
ourselves in the most confident, positive and graceful manner
possible. Yet, to the degree that our outer expression differs
from our inner feelings and attitudes, we suffer...
Because homosexuals have generally been a
despised minority in the West, at least in recent centuries,
visual portrayals of them are usually fraught with cultural
baggage and non-aesthetic agendas of various kinds. Mainstream
Western societies have often created stereotypes that reflect
their fear of the erotic, intolerance for sexual diversity, and
dislike of gender role blurring...
Forty years ago, lesbian images abounded. Mass
produced paperbacks with titles like The Girls in Three-B, Strange
Sister, and Women's Barracks could be bought for a
quarter at the corner drugstore. Often written by men, these lurid
stories portrayed sick and deviant women, destined to either
unhappy marriage, suicide, or prostitution. With sensational and
explicit cover illustrations, the books commonly featured an
older, vixen-like woman luring a young, chaste, and unsuspecting
girl into the tangled web of lesbianism...
This is a guide for program planners on body image problems among women. Includes health promotion models and strategies for change.
Don't hate media images because they are beautiful but because they represent unnatural and unhealthy ideas of women. Find interesting essays.
Online Resource Centers for Eating Disorders