Why Boys' Pursuit of the Perfect Body is as Dangerous as Girls'
6 months ago
Effort to achieve the 'ideal' body can become unhealthy obsession.
Women's widespread pursuit of the ideal body—often influenced by impossible media standards—is frequently reported on, rued, and rationalized. But, as a recent New York Times article points out, teen boys too "are consumed by an unattainable body image."
While young girls pluck and prod at their bodies in hopes of making them perfect—by slipping into Spanx, removing hair "down there," and venturing out for vaginaplasty, all before the age of 15—boys often seek to achieve their ideal image through "long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids."
According to a study recently published in Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school regularly exercise with the goal of increasing muscle mass. Thirty-eight percent use protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent have experimented with steroids.
Though girls' quests for flawlessness are often deemed as unhealthy, Dr. Carole Lieberman, renowned as the 'media psychiatrist,' opines it can be just as damaging for boys.
"Although teen boys who work out are certainly better off than those who sit in front of the TV stuffing themselves with chips, too many are going overboard to boost their fragile self-esteem," said Lieberman. "Spending longer in the gym than working on their homework -- or taking questionable supplements -- is not only dangerous, but may be ruining their chances for a successful life before they've barely begun."
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, nearly 1 million boys and men in the U.S. are battling eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia; and last year, a study from the National Health Service found a 66 percent increase in hospital admissions for men and boys with eating disorders over the last decade—statistics that signify a clear, if relatively new, crisis.