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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Men, Muscles & Masculinity A Guest Blog

Hilary Glover  (see footnote) has kindly provided the thoughts for this new bloggy.

Feeling like a "real man" is higher in men with muscle dysmorphia, popularly called ‘bigorexia’, than other gym users. On the other hand, male patients with anorexia nervosa had elevated association with feminine stereotypes, according to research in Biomed Central’s open access journal Journal of Eating Disorders.

Research over the last several decades shows that more and more men admit to being unhappy with their body image. This may show itself in either a desire to lose weight and become thinner, or to gain weight and become more muscular. This can become harmful when the person eats unhealthily or abuses steroids, or when the compulsion for exercise can override normal life resulting in loss of sleep, quality of life, and even in an inability to hold a normal job.

Previously it has been thought that sexual confusion was one of the main driving forces behind body dysmorphia in men. But this study suggests that how men view themselves is more important.

Researchers from the Australian National University and University of Sydney used a questionnaire designed to identify how the study participants viewed themselves in comparison to culturally accepted stereotypes of masculine thoughts and behaviors. The results showed that men with a high drive for muscularity (as in muscle dysmorphia) had a greater preference for traditional masculine roles, whereas men with a high desire for thinness (as in anorexia nervosa) displayed greater adherence to traditional feminine roles.

Dr Stuart Murray from the Redleaf Practice, who led this study, explained, “This does not mean that that the men with anorexia were any less masculine, nor that the men with muscle dysmorphia were less feminine than the control subjects we recruited. It is however an indication of the increasing pressures men are under to define their masculinity in the modern world.”

- ENDS -

Media Contact
Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central

Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com


1. Masculinity and femininity in the divergence of male body image concerns
Stuart B Murray, Elizabeth Rieger, Lisa Karlov and Stephen W Touyz
Journal of Eating Disorders (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

2. Journal of Eating Disorders is the first open access, peer-reviewed journal publishing leading research in the science and clinical practice of eating disorders. @JEatDisord

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral

Why Is This Eating Disorder Death Different From (Some) Other Deaths?

Georgia Willson Pemberton aged 26 dies as a result of taking Dulcolax laxatives to help achieve her anorexic longings to be thin and empty.

I am sad and frustrated about another needless loss of life. Who was egging her on; with whom was she competing, who was telling her that the only way to live was to be a princess on a pedestal?

Laxative abuse is a horrible way to die, these are dangerous - dangerous substances which ruin the liver and the gut, sometimes permanently. Deluded users think that they help weight loss. But they don't.  They change metabolism and make people gain weight easily, adding to their problems.  It's only the starving which goes alongside laxative abuse which keeps weight down.

Condolences to her parents and family.

I'm not surprised that she was a Head Girl. She probably left school "magna cum laude" (with great praise); the kind of girl who would appear to have it all.

What strikes me about this death is that,  here she was in 2013 with all the king's horses and all the king's men trying to put her back together again. Nothing that money can't buy. But they couldn't beat the demon anorexia -  not with all the money and all the new wonderful state-of-the-art eating disorder services out there.

This was not some poor family trying to get noticed by the national health services. This was a girl whose parents could buy the best there is.

So never mind all the chatter about "there isnt enough help for people with eating disorders".  The sad thing is that we could pour millions down into the black hole that is anorexia.  Even the best is not good enough to dent this serious mental illness.

But sometimes, someone can make a difference. What we can't always do is "bottle it".