Cameron is overweight for his age and has become extremely self-conscious of the fact. In the eighth grade, Cameron feels picked on constantly for being fat. Every day, Cameron is envious of other boys who are skinny and never seem to gain weight. Earlier in the month, there was a series on the causes, factors and negative results of childhood obesity and being bullied for it. However, there is another side to the issue of body image in young boys: being too skinny and scrawny.
The pressure to be a man
Every group of friends has that one or several individuals who have a unique and the incredible super power of being able to eat any kind or amount of food, but gain no weight. The problem is that they may not be healthy on the inside and struggle with being unable to gain weight in fat or muscle.
Boys struggle with body image issues similar to girls, just towards different goals. Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., Writes about the body image issues many boys face in the pressure to be strong, muscular and in between fat and skinny. “The pressure on boys to be ‘toned and muscular’ represents a return to a traditional notion of masculinity and what it means to be a man,” Drexler explains.
Boys also face a dilemma in suppressing insecurities about looking good. Drexler adds, “Boy’s, more than girls, want to look good, but they don’t want to admit it.” Boys who may appear as if they do not care about their image, may fall into this category of concealing their emotions and subconsciously causing more harm than good. Boys may also spend more time working out and attempting to build muscles toward unrealistic standards for their body type, or anyone’s if they are comparing to model and advertising images.
The struggle can be endless
A study by Aaron J. Bashill, Ph.D., and Sabine Wilhelm, Ph.D., explores the connection of distorted body image and depression in boys. The study followed boys from adolescence to adulthood. Participants in both categories held a distorted image of being very underweight and being overweight, were at risk for depression and displayed depressive symptoms well into adulthood.
One reason a boy may hold a negative view of his body image is during puberty. As kidshealth.org details, “During the teen years, and especially during puberty, it can be easy for a guy’s whole self-image to be based on how his body looks.” Boys continue to see celebrities and athletes as the image of perfection they need to be, but as Kidshealth.org explains, “That ‘as-advertised’ body is just not attainable.” The truth is that regardless of size, shape or gender, almost everyone has body image issues.
What is important is for children and teenagers to build a positive understanding of weight and body image instead of harboring a negative view through adulthood.
White River Academy provides treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.