What Is “Bigorexia”?

Doctors in the UK are identifying a condition called muscle dysmorphic disorder, nicknamed “bigorexia” – an obsession some men have with becoming more muscular, bigger, and closer to an ideal “V” shape. It’s thought that 1 in 10 gymgoers might have the condition, which on its most extreme end has led some men to life-ending steroid use.

Just as women have felt cultural pressure for decades to be alternately extremely thin, or fit, or to have “curves,” men have felt increasing pressure to have wide shoulders and a thin waist, to have muscles in a perfect proportion to each other, to be what our culture has told them a man “should” be. And although most fitness-minded people exercise maybe once a day and then move on, men with muscle dysmorphic disorder spend hours at the gym, hours eating, and all of their other hours thinking about their appearance, as is commonly the case with better-known body dysmorphic disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

Rob Wilson of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation speculates that because of the fact that dysmorphic disorders more commonly associated with women are better-known, it may now be the case that women are more equipped to cope with body dysmorphia than men are, which is bleak, considering body dysmorphia’s continuing pervasiveness in women.

Remember that body diversity emerged very early in human evolution – there’s never been one way a person “should” look, regardless of gender. Besides, standards of beauty change for men and women so often, it’s hard to keep up. Let’s all shoot for health rather than a particular way of looking, OK, guys?


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