By Shannon Cahill
hen you think about body image issues you usually think about girls. This is because boys tend to be more private when it comes to voicing their concerns, especially when it is about themselves. Having negative feelings and keeping them in can cause low self-esteem. During puberty, a boy’s body image becomes front and center. There are a lot of changes that occur including hair growing on different parts of their bodies and changes in their voice. Being self-conscious about going through puberty can also occur when a boy is not experiencing these changes and his friends are. He may feel embarrassed that he still looks and sounds like a little boy while his friends are turning into men. Just as many young girls wish to be thinner, many young boys wish to be more muscular. Pop culture has made it seem as though you must fit a certain body image in order to be deemed attractive and manly. Every health magazine you see for men has a built model or actor on the cover with their shirt off and muscles showing. The problem here is that these photos are heavily photo shopped and airbrushed which means the look the young boys are trying to copy is unrealistic. The ramifications of body image issues in young boys can be dangerous. It can lead to depression, anxiety and even drug use. Boys can also develop something called “muscle dysmorphia” which is like a reverse anorexia. They will become obsessed with “bulking” which is not healthy at a young age. Bones and muscles are still trying to grow natu-
18 | May 2018
rally, so taking products that will alter your physical appearance, such as steroids, can negatively affect that natural process. As a parent, be sure to look for the problem so you can be aware right away. Pay attention to any drastic changes in behavior. Take notice of significant weight gain or loss, changes in eating habits such as cutting out all carbs and sugar or an obsession with fitness magazines. If you think there may be a body image issue occurring, ASK! If his reasoning seems irrational, consult his doctor and help him see his positive attributes that are not related to his physical appearance. Help him gain a positive body image by recognizing his strengths whether it be intellectual or athletic. Teach him to respect his body by eating healthy and exercising. Most of all, remind him that his body is just ONE part of him. Shannon is the mom of a sassy two-year-old named Isabella. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Writing Arts and will be marrying the love of her life in May 2018.
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