Body dysmorphic Males- Are Adverts to blame?

By Scott Mills

On a cold frostbitten Monday morning in February as the clock approaches 6.15am, most people would usually be found snuggled in their beds locked in a deep and dreamy sleep.

However, Morgan Walters on the other hand is already half-way through a gut-wrenching and lung-busting work out at Southampton’s ‘The Gym’.

“It’s hard but if I want to maintain my beach body for the summer than I have to continue to put in the graft, pushing my body to the limit,” Walters explains as he wipes a thick layer of sweat off of his forehead.

And he is not alone.

fact boxWith the increasing number of high profile celebrities showing off their toned and muscular frames in order to sell a pair of skimpy y-fronts, everywhere you look these days there seems to be an ‘image’ of what the modern day man should look like.

When presented with a picture of the ex-England footballer David Beckham posing in his underpants in an advert for Armani, all 50 survey respondents who attended ‘The Gym’ admitted they wanted his physique.

A further 79.9% described the picture with words such as desirable, good looking, attractive and muscular with only 20.1% realising it had been edited.

“When you see pictures like this, you think to yourself ‘that’s what I need to look like’ because you know it looks good and that it is what women want.

“If I am being honest it also makes you want to work out harder in the gym because no one wants to be that guy with a huge gut that the girls don’t find attractive,” Walters points out when approached with the picture.

And he is not wrong.

Over 80% of Women in the same survey also said that they found the picture of Beckham highly attractive, describing the picture as ‘hot’ and ‘fit’.

However, whilst these adverts portray an image of what a man should look like by clothing brands trying to sell a pair of overpriced undies, many do not realise this perfect image they are working for is a false one.

“When people have been working out for months and even years, they are often left feeling disappointed when they do not achieve the results they wanted,” explained health advisor Katie Hedger who works for the NHS.

“This can be mostly down to the fact that they are actually trying to obtain this image we see in these adverts where the majority of them have been edited and airbrushed to look more appealing than they actually are.

“By doing this it then causes the person to feel like they need to do even more which usually causes drastic measures to occur in their diets and regularly leads to the likes of anorexia or bulimia.”

Generally considered to be a women’s disease, anorexia also affects around 15% of men according to charity ANAD, who give support to anorexic sufferers.

But with the media rarely focusing on it, the majority of men do not realise that they even have it also accompanying the fact that most mistake the disease as ‘cutting’ to get that desired body image.

In fact, research by the American charity ‘Men get eating disorders too’ show that the body type usually represented in these adverts is naturally posed as the ideal shape for around 5% of American males.

With men less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders, Walters believes that trying to obtain the ‘Beckham-esq’ look whilst having no one to talk to can often lead to even unhealthier habits.

“A few years ago when I was 24, I was getting incredibly frustrated because I was looking into the mirror and not seeing the look that I wanted.

“As time went by I had tried a number of different training programs and diets of which none of them seemed to work.

“It was at that point that I turned to steroids and although it got me the muscle I wanted it led to a number of other problems in my body all because I wanted to have the look of a model.”

Whilst these adverts are causing many health problems amongst men mostly between the ages of 14-25, this popular strategy of flogging pants on the market does seem to work.

In the same survey carried out at ‘The Gym’, 73.3% of men said it made them want to purchase the product with 80% of women saying it makes them want to buy them for a partner.

With this technique set to continue, companies like Armani will continue to rake in millions of pounds from underwear that they have sold through these adverts even if it is at the cost of the health of men across the world.

As the male members of Southampton’s ‘The Gym’ continue to put in many calorie-burning, muscle-gaining intense workouts, it is clear that in order to achieve a body like David Beckham’s many more hours and a clean diet will be required.



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