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The Man In The Mirror

June is National Men’s Health Month. Men’s health is not just physical. It encompasses an all-around state of physical, mental, and social well-being. This month we want to encourage all men to take care of their health by eating healthy, exercising for physical benefit, and working on their mental health to create lifelong habits that encourage longevity and happiness.

In this article, we focus on men’s mental health and its connections to men’s self-image. In the eyes of many men, a muscular and lean physique is seen as a mark of masculinity. Statistics are growing that show it is not just the majority of women that suffer from body image issues. Men as young as adolescents are struggling with eating disorders and excessive exercise to reach what they perceive as the ideal male physique based largely on images plastered across media and social media. While women are more likely to openly discuss their struggles with body image issues, men remain tight-lipped and are less likely to seek help for their mental health struggles. Because of the social stigma associated with male body image issues, many young men are reluctant to talk openly about their struggles or to seek help for their mental health problems.

Males such as young men, gay men, athletes, bodybuilders, models, and dancers, are particularly vulnerable to having a negative body image or feeling insecure about their physical appearance. This may result due to their activity in areas where physical appearance is judged based on weight and appearance.

The Struggle Is Real

Experts estimate that 40% of men have body image concerns centered around their weight and up to 85% believe they are not muscular enough to fit the ideal. The same experts believe the numbers could be higher than their estimates due to men’s hesitancy to speak up about their body image struggles due to a weakened stigma when discussing mental health. Nearly 42% of men in the US are on a weight loss diet. In 23 cross-sectional studies, head researcher Matthew Barnes found a link between negative male body image (muscle bulk or lack of) and anxiety and depression. Keeping an open platform that addresses body image concerts for men can help men to speak more openly about their struggles, but the struggle still persists to help men overcome the stigma of appearing less manly if they openly admit self-image struggles.

25% of males with normal weight perceive themselves to b