Bigorexia, Muscle Dysmorphia And Male Eating Disorders

When it comes to news about eating disorders or body dysmorphia, women are often the focus of such topics. Those reports usually include the pressure some women feel to adopt unhealthy habits in order to lose weight. As reported by the Inquisitr, there are secret societies on Instagram that use “pro-Ana” or anorexia-related hashtags to promote their beliefs. There are also those who use the eating disorder hashtags on social media in order to help one another overcome binging and purging and other forms of anorexic behaviors.

However, a new report points to how the fitness craze has also helped turn some men into so-called reverse anorexics, or ones who also suffer from eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia and “Bigorexia,” which is defined as the need to grow bigger and bigger muscles — and to sometimes go to shocking lengths to do so.

As reported by Yahoo! Beauty, a new study from the International OCD Foundation about men and body dysmorphia concluded that men can suffer from “Bigorexia” but not even know it, since the disorder usually is not diagnosed in men. However, the term can mean that certain men adapt body-dysmorphic behaviors that can seem downright normal in an average gym in America.

Some of those dysmorphic habits in men might include them constantly looking in the mirror to see if they have gotten any new gains in their muscles before, during or after working out. It can also mean pinching the skin on their bodies to try and ascertain their body fat percentages on a continual basis.

On Instagram, the #bigorexia hashtag has swelled to more than 2,100 posts — with some of them viewing being big and wanting to get bigger as a very normal masculine trait. Some of those photos reflect the fact that “bigorexia” can be a skewed way of viewing one’s body, with some men not realizing just how big their muscles already are in the constant search for larger muscles.

Yhä useammalla miehellä on "bigorexia" —>> linkki profiilissa #fitnessasenteella #bigorexia #kehonrakennus

A photo posted by Fitness Asenteella (@fitnessasenteella) on

The #muscledysmorphia hashtag on Instagram has grown to nearly 300 posts, with many of them representing photos and renderings of how the disorder feels. Often it is displayed by showing a muscular man looking in the mirror but seeing himself as small, thin and with fewer muscles than he actually has.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, muscle dysmorphia is akin to the same sort of obsessive-compulsive disorders that find certain people checking to ensure their doors are locked over and over again, or counting their movements. Such OCD actions fit right into the fitness industry and the practice of weightlifting, which often involves lots of repetitive movements and rewards competitive and faithful habits.

Those habits can also breed eating disorder in men who examine every morsel of food that enters their mouths for the “correct” fit of their macros.

The government’s website describes it as follows.

“Muscle dysmorphia is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that is more specifically subcategorized as body dysmorphic disorder. When they hear the term obsessive-compulsive, many people conjure images of excessive hand washing or bizarre daily rituals. When applied to the framework of body image, the obsession becomes the body or, more specifically, the level of muscularity and leanness. The compulsion is to achieve the desired levels of muscularity and leanness.”

“Muscle dysmorphia” was a term that first emerged in the 1990s. By 2016, the hashtag #gainz has grown to contain more than 4.6 million posts on Instagram.

[Image via Shutterstock]
As detailed on the Health Chemist Blog, one man details his struggle with body issues in the article, titled “Muscle Dysmorphia — My Story & Struggle.”

“So how did I really come to realize I have this weird view of myself? One day I heard the term in a podcast and decided to look it up. One site had a headline asking, ‘Do you suffer from muscle dysmorphia?‘ So out of curiosity I clicked the link to the site and filled out a questionnaire. To my surprise majority of my answers pointed a confirmation that I have muscle dysmorphia.”

[Image via Shutterstock]
[Image via Shutterstock]