Much is spoken about the issues faced by women in today’s modern society regarding the way they look and how they’re perceived by others.

In a world where we are under constant bombardment from the media, with this celebrity culture and celeb news being available 24/7 at our fingertips, is it any wonder that they are having an impact, especially on impressionable teenage women? We walk the streets of this country and everywhere we go, we have pictures of beautiful women looking down on us on posters and advertising boards.

Many women feel the need to compare themselves to these airbrushed and photoshopped models and some often diet or carry out more drastic measures; some might even resort to surgery to reach these often unattainable goals. But men also feel the pressure.

Bigorexia refers to a body image problem and is a form of body image dysmorphia. Anorexia, in which an individual deliberately loses a lot of weight due to their body image concerns is widely spoken about, however not many people are aware of bigorexia. Bigorexia can essentially be described as the opposite of anorexia. People who have this disorder, mainly men looking to gain muscle, have a constant desire to get bigger, gain more muscle and put on more mass. In much the same way as anorexia, people with bigorexia are never content with their body image.

The majority of bigorexic sufferers lift weights, eat a lot of food and in some cases take anabolic steroids as they feel compelled to gain more mass. Many of these individuals are already very big and hold more mass then the average person walking down the street. But such is this disorder, that when an affected person looks in the mirror, they don’t see someone who is big and built, they see a skinny individual, which in some cases will make the individual do whatever it takes to get bigger.

The problem with bigorexia, and other body image disorders for that matter, is that the sufferers have it in their mentality that there is no end point, and nor will there ever be until something drastic happens to make them stop. With anorexia patients, the end point may be when the individual begins getting health problems, fainting etc. But with Bigorexic suffers, is there really an end point?

A bodybuilder’s diet is usually very healthy, so eating a huge amount of food whilst exercising intensely isn’t going to do much harm. There are also a number of other factors that can determine how much muscle a person can build, such as genetics for example. A  person can only build as much muscle as his or her genetics will allow, so after a certain point, a bigorexia sufferer, not content with this, will often do whatever it takes to gain more, and this often means taking drugs such as anabolic steroids. But even when steroids are involved, unless a person is taking enormous dosages of the drugs, health problems often don’t become apparent until 20 -30 years down the line, so  the risks are rarely a consideration for someone who wants to look bigger and more muscular within a few months.

Just like many women feel the need to look like models on magazine covers, men also face a similar kind of pressure. The big tough guys in movies who seem to get all the accolades do influence the way men think of themselves, making some of them feel slightly inadequate about the way they look. Now going to the gym and getting fit and healthy is never a bad thing, but there are many individuals out there that lift weights as a means to an end and will do whatever it takes to increase their size.

Bigorexia can also impact a person’s social life. There are many sufferers that do nothing but lift weights and eat, and don’t think about anything else. There have been reported incidences where fathers have not played with their children because they felt that it would cut into their muscle recovery time. Many sufferers avoid doing any social activities that don’t involve going to the gym, because they feel self-conscious and worry about their size and the way others may perceive them.

Bigorexia is a serious issue and one disorder affecting many men in the UK and in Western countries. It needs to be recognised as a serious form of body dysmorphia and it needs to be given the same recognition and attention as other serious disorders.

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