Our Bodies, Ourselves Revisited: Male Body Image and Psychological Well-Being

By Tager, David; Good, Glenn E. et al. | International Journal of Men's Health, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Our Bodies, Ourselves Revisited: Male Body Image and Psychological Well-Being


Tager, David, Good, Glenn E., Morrison, Julie Bauer, International Journal of Men's Health


Given increasing objectification of the male body and rising steroid and supplement use among young men, it is imperative to explore associations between body image, masculine norms, and psychological well-being. This study examines correlations between these constructs in 101 male college students. Results revealed significant associations between participants' physical self-evaluations and two aspects of psychological well-being. Appearance evaluation accounted for approximately 20 percent of variance in participants' psychological self-acceptance. Body image correlated positively with perceived environmental mastery and with the masculine norm of dominance. A negative correlation was observed between childhood victimization and body image. Participants who considered themselves overweight reported lower self-acceptance than participants who considered themselves to be underweight. Results support the hypothesis that body image has become a significant predictor of psychological well-being in young men.

Keywords: male body, body image, masculine norms, psychological well-being, weight

**********

There is substantial literature on the relations of negative body image to self-concept, eating disorders, and psychological distress in females, and on addressing body image issues in counseling (e.g., Fallon, Katzman, & Wooley, 1994; Johnson, Roberts, & Worrel, 1999; Srebnik & Salzberg, 1994; Stice & Shaw, 1994; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn, 1999). The wealth of theory and studies in this field are due, in part, to a strong feminist critique of the impact of female objectification and to the dramatic rise in eating disorder diagnoses among young women. In comparison, male body image has received much less attention as a factor that might contribute in important ways to male self-concept and behavior (Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000).

In recent years, however, more young men seem to be conflicted about their physical appearance. The prevalence of diagnosed male eating disorders appears to be on the rise (Braun, Sunday, Huang, & Halmi, 1999). Steroid and supplement use for the purpose of improving appearance or strength has increased dramatically, and their use appears to be associated with weight preoccupation, body dissatisfaction, poorer health-related attitudes, and higher levels of consumption of men's fitness magazines (Field et al., 2005; Irving, Wall, Neumark-Sztainer, & Story, 2002; Smolak, Murnen, & Thompson, 2005). McCreary and Sasse (2000) note the change toward a more muscular body ideal in general, and several studies document the increasing muscularity of male action figures, Playgirl centerfolds, and male advertising models, whose half-dressed representation in the media has risen sharply since the 1950s (Leit, Pope, & Gray, 2001; Pope, Olivardia, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2001; Pope, Olivardia, Gruber, & Borowieki, 1999).

Much as the predominant images of a singular, objectified, and unattainable female body ideal contribute to psychological distress in women, gender theorists hypothesize that the idealized lean and muscular male body that dominates the covers of men's magazines tends to contribute to low self-esteem and psychological conflict in men. In fact, there is growing evidence for an association between negative body image and psychological distress, physical distress, and aggression in males (e.g., Agliata & Tantleff-Dunn, 2004; Cafri et al., 2005; Furnham & Calnan, 1998; O'Dea & Abraham, 2002; Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2004; Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2004). Also, recent work suggests that higher endorsement of traditional masculine norms is related to higher levels of body dissatisfaction (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2004). In general, there seems to be increasing empirical support for the relation between body dissatisfaction and psychological conflict in young men.

While the increasing fetishization of the male body appears to have initiated men into a struggle with body image similar to what women have long experienced, there are, of course, differences associated with the different constructions of gender.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Our Bodies, Ourselves Revisited: Male Body Image and Psychological Well-Being
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?