Body Image

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on body image.

Here's How Women's Ideal Body Shapes Have Changed Throughout History.
Body Image Problems Not Just in Women

Beautifully Flawed 3:20

Here's How Women's Ideal Body Shapes Have Changed Throughout History.

If you're girl friend has a big butt, you're in luck (for the next 5 minutes)! According to a 2013 study of heterosexual men in the U.S., 59 percent of men prefer butts over boobs. Although what's considered the "perfect" body for women has changed drastically throughout history, curves and a booty like Kim Kardashian are currently the most sought-after physique.

Check out this cool GIF made by The Greatist that shows ideal body types and how they've changed over the past 100 years.

But if you're not blessed with a Kardashian-esque backside, don't despair. The GIF shows how much beauty standards differ throughout the year major cleavage may be all the rage, then the waif look is in.

The takeaway? Learn to love what you've got, because confidence is always in style.

Body Image Problems Not Just in Women

Men may still hesitate to ask for directions or give up the TV remote, but they're apparently crossing the gender line into another area once firmly dominated by women: Obsessing about their body image and developing eating disorders.

In the past two decades, reports the British Medical Journal, the number of men who openly report dissatisfaction with their physical appearance has tripled -- and today, nearly as many men as women say they are unhappy with how they look. Meanwhile, therapists report seeing 50% more men for evaluation and treatment for eating disorders than they did in the 1990s.

And the root of this trend may be a new type of disorder -- an obsession for six-pack abs and bulging biceps that seems especially common in athletes and other fitness enthusiasts.

Though statistics show that about 10% of men suffer from the two best-known eating disorders -- anorexia and bulimia -- a growing body of evidence suggests that men may be especially vulnerable to muscle dysmorphia, a condition in which one obsesses about lacking muscle definition and mass, even with a muscular body. This condition is not unlike that satirized in Saturday Night Live sketches featuring the Schwarzenegger-like, sweatsuit-wearing Hans and Franz, whose mission was to "pump you up."

Laughs aside, the problem is so real that in the March/April issue of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal, published by the American College of Sports Medicine, Ball State University nutritionist Katherine A. Beals, PhD, RD, highlights the growing trend among fitness buffs and offers advice to athletic trainers on spotting the problem in weight lifters and other fitness center regulars. "Millions of boys and men today harbor a secret obsession about their looks and are endangering their health by engaging in excessive exercise, bingeing and purging rituals, steroid abuse, and overuse of nutritional and dietary [products]," she writes.

Although a relatively new area of medical research, many experts believe this disorder is grossly underreported. But those at particular risk, says Beals: men who constantly seek instant results from workouts and frequently check their progress in mirrors or on scales. Though her findings are geared to athletes -- or those who want to be -- others say that less-athletic men are not immune to muscle dysmorphia and related body image problems.

"As far as we know, all men are prone to these types of issues," says Katharine Phillips, MD, director of the Body Image Program at Brown University's Butler Hospital and author of several books on men's body image problems, including The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession. "The reasons why haven't been well studied, but one factor may be the availability of anabolic steroids, which are potentially dangerous but can make men become much more muscular than Mother Nature ever intended."

Another possible reason being explored: Feelings of threatened masculinity. "Perhaps this is the one domain left where men can feel like men, since women can do everything that men can do, except they can't bench-press hundreds of pounds," she tells WebMD. "What has happened over the years is there's an increasing emphasis on men's appearance, and in particular on looking muscular, and it coincides very nicely with the increasing equality women have attained in society."

Whatever the causes, and likely there are many -- including life experiences or even genetics -- there's no denying that some men are feeling the pressure. Even GI Joe dolls have bulked up in recent years.

"In women with eating disorders, the focus is usually on thinness, but men tend to want to be muscular and gain weight," says Catherine Loomis, PhD, psychologist at the Eating Disorders Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wis., one of the nation's few treatment centers that specifically treats men with eating disorder and body image problems. "A lot of it has to do with cultural pressures placed on men to look a certain way. As a result, they may develop a fear of certain foods and anxiety over the way they eat."

Even boys and teens -- especially those who are overweight -- are suffering emotional trauma in their quest for bigger muscles, and setting themselves for possible future medical problems. "They may try to eat lot of protein but limit fat, and they often develop a fear of foods and an anxiety that results from restrictive eating," she tells WebMD. "Often, these are people who are perfectionists and have or could develop obsessive-compulsive disorder."

So when do men cross the line from a healthy workout to an unhealthy and potentially dangerous obsession? One hint: Exercising more than once or twice each day, with no days off from weight lifting.

"I usually note four points that determine whether you've crossed the line or not," says Roberto Olivardia, PhD, another Adonis Complex author and psychologist at McLean Hospital and at Harvard Medical School who specializes in men's body image problems:

Sources: By Sid Kirchheimer. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal, March/April 2003. British Medical Journal, Nov. 3, 2001. Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. Katharine Phillips, MD, director, Body Image Program, Butler Hospital; associate professor of psychiatry, Brown University, Providence, R.I. Catherine Loomis, PhD, psychologist, Eating Disorders Center, Rogers Memorial Hospital, Oconomowoc, Wis. Roberto Olivardia, PhD, clinical instructor of psychology, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston.

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