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

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2019
Company Information

© 2019 All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.