How American Men Really Feel About Their Bodies

According to a national study by a Chapman University psychologist, between 20 to 40 percent of American men have feelings of dissatisfaction with their bodies, including negative perceptions about weight, physical appearance and muscle size.

The recent study – reportedly the largest of its kind on the subject of men and body image – sheds new light on a topic historically associated with females. According to the research, men felt favorable about their appearance when classified as “normal” weight; men classified as extremely overweight tended to have a more unfavorable opinion of their appearance. Most men classified as simply overweight felt good about their appearance, the study found.

“Men can feel pressure to appear strong and powerful, so having some additional mass does not necessarily lead to body dissatisfaction,” said Dr. David Frederick, lead author of the study. “The fact that most ‘overweight’ men felt satisfied might seem surprising, but the medical category for overweight does not correlate well to what people consider to be overweight socially – for example, George W. Bush was medically ‘overweight’ during his presidency.”

Gay and heterosexual men

Because of the large sample size of the study, researchers were able to examine the differences in body image between gay and heterosexual males. According to the research, homosexual males were more likely than heterosexual males to feel media pressure to look attractive, undergo cosmetic surgery and abstain from sexual activity because of negative feelings about body image.

Other key findings from the study: Gay men were 26 percent more likely to feel uneasy wearing a bathing suit in public compared to 16 percent for heterosexual males; Gay men were 8 percent more likely than heterosexual males to have undergone a weight loss routine in the previous 12 months; 77 percent of homosexual males stated they felt judged based on appearance, compared with 61 percent for heterosexual men.

Source: Chapman University

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