Muscle dysmorphia is an all-consuming need to become bigger and more muscular, regardless of the personal, emotional or financial cost.
The disorder is most common among men, and about 30 percent of those afflicted are also likely dealing with an eating disorder, like bulimia, The Guardian reported. These men rarely seek treatment, so it’s difficult for experts to estimate how many have the disease, but it is believed that nearly 12 percent of all men in professional weightlifting fit the mold.
There’s some concern that the disease on the rise. A study published last month found that 22 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 24 said that they had eating disorders that were directly linked to a desire to bulk up, according to The Guardian.
“The drive for a bigger, more muscular body is becoming very prevalent,” the study’s lead researcher, Jason Nagata, told the newspaper. He added that a telltale sign of the disease is how it affects all aspects of a person’s day-to-day life. “Their entire day is spent at the gym trying to bulk up,” he added. “They may also be taking illicit supplements like steroids.”
One of the perceived forces behind muscle dysmorphia is that “the idealized male body image [has gotten] bigger and bulkier” over the years, according to Nagata.
Superhero actors like Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans or Jason Momoa and every-day champs like Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron are in every movie, TV commercial, bus stop ad and billboard that bombard men every day of their lives, shoving those unrealistic body expectations in their faces. But research also shows that trauma in childhood, like bullying, or even our genes may be at fault, too.
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