We typically associate body image issues with women. But my guest today says that a quarter of people with eating disorders are male and that there are millions of men in America silently struggling with and obsessing over how they look — even to the detriment of their health, careers, and relationships. His name is Dr. Roberto Olivardia. He’s a professor of clinical psychology at Harvard and the co-author of the book The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys. We begin our conversation discussing how the “Adonis Complex” manifests itself in men and why male body image disorders are a fairly recent phenomenon. Roberto and I then dig into how the ideal male body has changed over the past few decades and how we’ve seen these inflated standards of male attractiveness show up in advertising, movies, and even action figures. Roberto then shares possible causes of male body image issues, which include, interestingly enough, increasing gender egalitarianism in the West. 

We then dig into specific ways body image issues appear in men, including “bigorexia” or muscle dysmorphia, in which super jacked dudes think they’re still too scrawny. Roberto then explains how eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia manifest themselves differently in men compared to women. 

We end our conversation discussing the line between caring about how you look in a healthy way, and having a disorder, what to do if you’re having problems with body image issues, and what parents can do to inoculate their sons from the Adonis Complex.

Show Highlights

  • What is the Adonis Complex?
  • How Roberto got started studying eating disorders in men 
  • How many men are affected by various body image and eating disorders?
  • What has changed in our culture to cause the uptick in men experiencing these problems?
  • Body image and men in other cultures 
  • The reality about guys who look jacked in movies, underwear ads, etc. 
  • The negative influence of social media 
  • How action figures have changed in the last handful of decades 
  • What do men and women see as the ideal male body?
  • Muscle dysmorphia 
  • How are these body image problems treated?
  • How eating disorders manifest differently in men and women 
  • The problems caused by steroids
  • Why every man should indeed care about how they look, and finding the right balance
  • What parents can do to help boys who might be struggling with body image 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

adonis complex book cover


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The post Podcast #520: The Surprising Origins and Prevalence of Bigorexia and Male Body Image Issues appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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