You usually hear women complain about their bodies, but a new British study finds men are just as unhappy about their own body image.
In a recent online survey, the Centre for Appearance Research at University of West England asked 384 British guys with an average age of 40 about their body image, and the results may come as a surprise: four out of five men confessed to being unhappy with their bodies, with most complaining about having a “beer belly” and a lack of muscle definition in their arms, chests and stomachs.
Another 35 percent of respondents even said they’d trade a year of their lives to achieve their ideal body weight or shape.
The survey also found 80 percent of those polled engaged regularly in conversation about one another’s physiques, something study leader Dr. Philippa Diedrichs described as “body talk.”
“Body talk reinforces the unrealistic beauty ideal which reinforces leanness and muscularity,” she said. “This is traditionally seen as an issue for women but our research shows that men are feeling the pressure to conform too.”
Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA, which commissioned the research, agreed, saying those conversations can have a “damaging effect” and are “symptomatic of a growing obsession with appearance.”
Some doctors are even concerned these negative body issues among men could lead to the development of eating disorders.
Dr. Diedrichs said that while no one is encouraging obesity, it’s important that both men and women stop being so hard on themselves, adding, “We need to take a collaborative approach to promoting an environment that values diversity in appearance and promotes healthy body image.”