Stress and Pressure to Look Good Can Be Deadly for Men

Stress

Stress that is placed upon women to look a certain way is frequently referred to in the media, however, more and more stories that reveal the same amount of pressure is placed on men are emerging in the news. Apparently, men feel the stress of body image too. This month former child star and UK documentary film producer Tyger Drew-Honey has made the headlines after turning his attention towards understanding and explaining why there is so much stress felt by men due to the pressure to look good. After meeting with the some of the men presented in his most recent BBC3 documentary, Drew-Honey describes how one 18 year old man had a heart attack due to having taken such a large amount of steroids. This story is very similar to the tragic case of Oli Cooney, a 20 year old man who died in September last year after taking a cocktail of “bulking supplements” and steroids. For Cooney, the pressure that he felt to look good turned out to be deadly.

Cooney started working out at the age of 16 and quickly became obsessive according to his friends and family who frequently tried to convince him to decrease the level of steroids that he was taking and workout less. Cooney was open with his family about the amount of performance enhancing drugs that he took and confessed that he was doing so because he wanted to change the way that he looked. Cooney suffered three heart attacks and two stokes but returned to the gym following each hospitalization. After his death last year, coroner Dominic Bell pointed to the young bodybuilders obsession with his body image as a factor that lead to his early death.

In a study at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center (NDARC) that looked at the steroids induced deaths in young men, lead researcher Shane Darke concluded that in using steroids, young men can do major damage to their hearts. Darke warned that in most cases, steroid users are very unaware of the dangers that using performance boosting drugs pose on their long term health.

In a study that looked at the symptoms and correlates of anabolic steroid dependance, the researchers noted that one of the most prevalent reasons that men use steroids was body size dissatisfaction. Although professional American athletes have been using steroids to enhance performance since the 1950s it is much more recently that the usage of steroids in non-professional athletes has risen and therefore been a topic of interest to researchers. A 2008 publication, Getting Huge, Getting Ripped: A Qualitative Exploration of Recreational Steroid Use found that many of the steroid users that were observed in the studies used were motivated to look to drugs out of frustration when natural bodybuilding techniques did not give them the physical appearance that they desired. The study also suggested the pictures and text used in popular bodybuilding magazines and publications should be scrutinized as often the bodies as portrayed in these images are unrealistic and unachievable without the use of steroids or photoshop.

The truth in advertising laws as enforced by the Federal Trade Commission state that an ad must not be misleading. Earlier this year a bill was introduced  named the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 in order to lessen the use of images that have been altered in a way which changes the physical appearance of the models used within them. Advocacy groups such as International Eating Disorder Action (IEDA) have been vocal in their support of the bill and their belief that negative body images are enhanced by media portrayal of a body ideal that is both unachievable and unhealthy.

Groups like IEDA generally advocate against images that could potentially trigger an eating disorder in individuals that are biologically predisposed to conditions such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. However, there is growing concern over the number of people that are negatively effected by the unrealistic images that are often present in the media who do not present with clinical eating disorders and therefore do not receive medical treatment. It is  becoming more evident that  this pressure to look good reveals itself in many different formats and that conditions such as negative body image are more prevalent than the majority of people believe them to be.

According to the eating disorder charity BEAT, up to 25 percent of eating disorder sufferers are male. However,  this is not the only way that negative body image in men reveals itself. Steroid use is one area that is beginning to be considered a growing problem in young men.  As Drew-Honey has examined in his documentary, the underlying stress and pressure to look good affects men as much as it affects women, and the consequences can also be deadly.
Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/stress-and-pressure-to-look-good-can-be-deadly-for-men-video/#yryEdS5R5ORfYuIw.99

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