What You Need to Know About Teen Boys and Body Image
In the media and society, we often hear about the issues with body image amongst young women.
Typically, boys are perceived as a tough and rambunctious bunch, especially when they play sports. Hints of image issues may be overlooked in boys, because it presents differently than typical disorders.
In a Washington Post report, a New Hampshire mother of twins said she noticed that it wasn’t her daughter that was having body issues – it was her athlete son.
“When he’s in his season for sports, he’s very fit,” said the mother, who chose to keep her identity private for the protection of her children. “Then that will end, and he’ll gain weight, then he won’t like how he looks and tries to lose weight. I just see this pattern of not being happy with his body, and he sees himself in a warped way.”
This mother has noticed an unhealthy cycle with her son that consists of extremely low calories and intense workouts.
And some experts are learning that eating disorders are affecting boys and men, but issues present themselves differently.
The problems some men face with their body image often have to do with being muscularity-oriented. These days, younger boys seem to be very concerned with getting enough protein to be strong and build muscle.
Some even reach a point of desperation to stay lean, resulting in extensive workouts and borderline starvation.
The level of dieting that boys struggling with body image may mirror them just trying to get “fit,” but in fact, it is closer to anorexia and bulimia
“They want to modify their bodies, they have discomfort about weight and shape and body image, the same as girls,” said Lauren Smolar, the vice president of mission at the National Eating Disorders Association. “But they display a little differently.”
A study from Californian Journal of Health Promotion showed that in 24% of boys from 11 to 18 have a healthy body mass index, or BMI, but were still dissatisfied with their body shape.
It’s important that parents and caregivers are able to identify when their children are displaying a gradual difference in behavior.
Speaking to your boys about body image, whether it’s the fact you don’t need to be muscular to be a man, or that there is no shame in getting a hearing aid fitted at the hearing aid center if it will help them, is just as important as it is to girls.
If you have concerns, ask the questions, even at a young age to get a gauge of their mindset when it comes to their body.