Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
male body image, body distortion, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder
There is a myriad of research on women’s body image, and discourse on this subject has become virtually normal; however, research on male body image is sparse, and is not openly discussed. The current study looks at factors that influence men’s body image and body image pathology, such as body distortion, steroid use, eating disorders and depression. Prior literature has identified gender, sexuality, race, and media exposure as key factors that influence men's perceptions and behaviors. This study found partial support that these factors play a role in men's body image. Specifically, gender, media images of the ideal men’s body, and peer influence impacted men’s patterns of perceptions, behaviors, and treatment. There was an overall perception among respondents that men should be muscular, which was influenced by peer groups. This masculine ideal can lead to other behaviors, such as dietary supplement use, as well as eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. Yet, these negative behaviors are difficult to address when men are reluctant to seek treatment because doing so would violate masculine ideals. Based on these findings, more federal regulation and warning labels on dietary supplements is needed, as well as awareness among the general public. Regulating dietary supplements would acknowledge the danger they pose, and putting warning labels on them would provide awareness of potential risk factors that may influence men’s decision to consume them. When the general public is educated on the body image pathology that men face, then perhaps the stigma that surrounds male body image and the overall cultural value for men's stoicism where men must not be anything less than "macho" would be minimized.
Michaelis, Allison N., "Macho Men: Male Body Image in 21st Century America" (2017). Honors Theses. 61.