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Posts tagged ‘body image’

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MALE BODY IMAGE ISSUES

Source:  The Gospel Coalition/Joe Carter

Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like; it may or may not bear a close relation to how others actually see us. Body image issues are often treated as if they were only a problem for women (see here for 9 Things on female body images issues). But men suffer from many of the same debilitating problems caused by skewed perceptions of their bodies. Here are nine things you should know about male body image issues:

1. When it comes to weight concerns, a key difference between young men and young women is that females want to be thinner, while males tend to feel pressure to gain weight. “There are some males who do want to be thinner and are focused on thinness,” says Dr. Alison Field, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, “but many more are focused on wanting bigger or at least more toned and defined muscles. That’s a very different physique.”

2. One common body image problem for men is dissatisfaction with their muscularity (i.e., with having well-developed muscles). Research suggests that exposure to the media ideal of muscularity, and not muscularity per se, elicits body dissatisfaction in men with pre-existing muscularity concerns.

3. According to The Atlantic, even toys contribute to the distorted messages boys receive about the ideal male form. In the last decade or two, action figures have lost a tremendous proportion of fat and added a substantial proportion of muscle. “Only 1 or 2 percent of [males] actually have that body type,” says Dr. Raymond Lemberg, a clinical psychologist and expert on male eating disorders. “We’re presenting men in a way that is unnatural.”

4. Muscle dysmorphia – a pathological preoccupation with muscularity – appears to be a form of body dysmorphic disorder with a focus on muscularity (bodybuilders sometimes refer to this condition as “bigorexia”). One study found that those with muscle dysmorphia were more likely to have attempted suicide, had poorer quality of life, and had a higher frequency of any substance use disorder and anabolic steroid abuse.

5. A national study of adolescent boys published in JAMA Pediatrics found that males with high concerns about thinness but not muscularity were more likely to develop high depressive symptoms. Males with high concerns about muscularity and thinness were more likely than their peers to use drugs, and males with high concerns about muscularity who used supplements and other products to enhance physique were more likely to start binge drinking frequently and using drugs

6. Nationwide, about 4 percent of male high school students have taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription. The prevalence of having ever taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription was higher among Hispanic (4.2 percent) than white (2.8 percent) and black (2.3 percent) students.

7. A survey in the U.K. found that four out of five men confess to being unhappy about their body. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would trade a year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight or shape.

8. Research studies have found that approximately 4 percent of male college undergraduates are at risk for an eating disorder. The proportion of the male population estimated to have a condition at some point in their lifetime is 0.3 percent for anorexia nervosa, 0.5 percent bulimia nervosa, and 2.0 percent for binge eating disorder.

9. The only complete way to overcome the problem is to have our beliefs about body image transformed by the Holy Spirit. As Heather Davis Nelson says in the Journal of Biblical Counseling:

In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God’s image, we conform to the world’s image. We are hopelessly stuck in a lifeless cycle, exchanging God for the creature as our object of worship. But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin’s power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God’s image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, (sisters) in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FEMALE BODY IMAGE ISSUES

SOURCE:  The Gospel Coalition/Joe Carter

Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like; it may or may not bear a close relation to how others actually see us. Here are nine things you should know about female body image issues:

1. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired a criminal sketch artist to draw women as they see themselves and as others see them. The social experiment revealed that women’s perceptions of themselves were very different than how others view them.

2. According to the CDC, for women ages 20 years old and older, the average height for women in America is 5’3″ and weight is 166.2 pounds. For fashion models the average is 5’10” and 120 pounds.

3. By age 6, girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.

4. The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction. The median ages for onset of an eating disorder in adolescents is 12- to 13-years-old. In the United States, 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

5. Only four percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.*

6. A global survey found that two thirds of women strongly agree that “the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.”

7. Researchers have found that “fat talk”—a phenomena in which a person makes negative claims about their weight to others—is an expected norm among women and a way for them to appear more modest.

8. A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that while “fat talk” tended to decrease with age, “old talk” often came in to replace it, and that both were reported by women who appeared to have a negative body image.

9. The only complete way to overcome the problem is to have our beliefs about body image transformed by the Holy Spirit. As Heather Davis Nelson says in the Journal of Biblical Counseling:

In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God’s image, we conform to the world’s image. We are hopelessly stuck in a lifeless cycle, exchanging God for the creature as our object of worship. But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin’s power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God’s image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, (sisters) in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

*Update: The post originally quoted the 2004 study that found only two percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful. A follow-on study in 2010 found the percentage had increased to four percent.

Family Dysfunction: The “Rageaholic” Family

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Living Free

“Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not [indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and] set yourself to his ruin.” 

Proverbs 19:18 AMP

[There are] five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that can lead to the development of eating disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some potentially harmful characteristic that needs to be addressed in your family.

In the “Rageaholic Family” only the parents (one or both) are allowed to express feelings. The predominant feeling is rage or anger. Unfortunately, the children are taught to believe that they are responsible for that anger. Mothers in rageaholic families may have anger and rage from their family of origin, and in some cases the daughter becomes an “emotional receptacle” for that rage. Although the mother is in actuality angry with herself and her parents, she pushes that anger onto her daughter.

Children in rageaholic families learn to repress their anger completely. This repressed anger can cause stress, bitterness and depression, leading to many types of inappropriate behavior.

Although there are appropriate times to discipline our children—always in love—we are not to be controlled by anger. And sometimes anger vented on children does not even relate to their behavior—it comes from a parent struggling with rage or bitterness caused by something else altogether. [The above] Scripture makes it clear that angry resentments and undue chastisements can lead to our child’s ruin.

Father, forgive me for sometimes taking out my anger on my children. Help me to admit when I’ve been wrong and allow my children to see that they are not at fault for my unfair words and actions. Help me to be sensitive to my children’s honest feelings and to allow them to feel safe in expressing them. In Jesus’ name …

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–


These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC.

EATING DISORDERS: ACTION STEPS


Identify a Target Weight

  • It is important to identify an ideal weight and target weight. Ideal weight refers to the best weight for the person when the person’s height and body type are taken into account. The body mass index (oft en abbreviated as BMI) is the most accurate measure of ideal weight, but few persons can easily work with this index.
  • A target weight is the lowest safe weight; it is the bare minimum you want someone with an eating disorder to be at. Target weight is calculated as 90 percent of midpoint of the ideal weight. It is best to have agreement on a target weight with a doctor or dietician because persons with eating disorders oft en try to negotiate this number.

Focus on Relationships

  • You will want to build a positive relationship with the person. Those with eating disorders tend to have a very hard time being open and accepting help. You will need much patience and you will need to be willing to speak the truth. Let the young woman know that she must be willing to hear the truth.
  • Encourage family members to show unconditional love to the eating disordered person. Do not criticize or compare or ask questions in a manner that causes the person to feel condemned.
  • Healing relationships with people and with God are essential to the recovery process.

Take the Focus Off of Food

  • Unless the girl is in immediate danger from starvation or electrolyte problems, examine what weight loss means to this person, what eating stands for, and what she most fears about eating.
  • Help the family to take the focus off food at home. They need to see that focusing on food is part of the disease, not the solution.

Watch for Triggers

  • Help her to see what triggers her bingeing behaviors and try to identify situations that aggravate it.
  • Help her to see what is behind her actions. Chances are, some kind of anxiety and stress is driving these actions.

Change Thinking Patterns

  • Gently question the girl’s thinking. Help her begin to see the lies behind the behaviors that are trapping her.

Examine Perfectionism

  • Examine her perfectionism. Chances are she holds herself to standards to which she does not hold her loved ones.
  • Help her to examine these standards and how they square with God’s truth revealed in Scripture.

Keep a Journal

  • Encourage the person to write in a journal about her feelings and the events of each day. She may have difficulty identifying feelings. Help her to view her feelings as normal and acceptable.

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6

Preoccupation with food can indicate an eating disorder. When people become overly focused on food, their dependence on God suffers.

The Israelites, while not having an eating disorder, did experience a “perspective disorder” because of their focus on food. Their preoccupation with foods they did not have caused them to lose sight of God’s miraculous and loving provision of manna.

When people become preoccupied with anything other than God, they can lose their perspective of God’s care for them. People with eating disorders need to refocus on their worth in God’s eyes and be thankful for God’s provision.

Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.Proverbs 23:2

Some people attempt to fill the emptiness in their lives with drugs, alcohol, sex, money, or even hard work. Others use food, and such people find themselves trapped in emotional eating—leading to such problems as obesity and bulimia.

There is nothing wrong with food. There must be a balance, however, between enjoying what God has provided, and using food to meet emotional needs and thus allowing it to control one’s life.

The fruit of the Spirit called self-control applies to many areas of life, including eating. God desires to fill any emptiness, helping us to lead balanced, healthy lives.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

Some who face a difficult eating disorder—whether it be an addiction to food, or an addiction to going without food—understand the power of that addiction. God provided food for the animals and people He created in order to sustain them. Food is meant for sustenance—”foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.”

A food addiction takes the focus off God and puts it on one’s food or stomach— both of which will eventually no longer be needed.

People who struggle with eating disorders should seek Christian professional guidance to gain a proper perspective and pattern for eating.


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