Men and boys also suffer from body image issues

Men and boys also suffer from body image issues

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We all know that girls can suffer from body image issues and eating disorders, but parents listen up. Your son could very well face some of the same problems without you ever knowing.

From the time we are born, we come across millions of messages throughout society. Some are very obvious, while others we may not even realize we're taking in.

For instance, take a look at some Halloween costumes for boys. On the surface, they may appear to just be a fun outfit for kids to trick or treat in.

However, if you take a closer look, there is one thing many of the superheroes have in common. All of them have what most would consider a perfect physique, a thin build with big muscles. It is an image young boys see constantly as they mature.

It is that constant exposure from media and other messages throughout childhood that experts say can cause many boys to experience a whole host of issues relating to body image that can lead to unhealthy and dangers behavior including eating disorders, just like girls.

Some studies estimate as high as 43% of men are unsatisfied with some part of their body.

"I really saw that maybe I could help others, use my pain and my experiences to bring others out," said author Brian Cuban.

Cuban is the author of Shattered Image: My Triumph over Body Dysmorphic Disorder is living proof that anyone from any background can be affected.

"My mom used to say things like, ‘hey you're a dumb bunny, you eat too much' and so I saw myself as this fat stupid kid," Cuban recalled.

Cuban is the brother of billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. After an incident in college involving a girl, he developed anorexia.

"She goes ‘Ugly! Ugly!' referencing me, and I'm like wow."

More than 30 years later, while he has made great strides, Cuban still struggles with his own body image. He suffered many years before anyone found out what he was going through.

"You're so immersed in shame, you think you're the only one," Cuban said.

When it comes to treating eating disorders and body dysmorphia, the biggest difference between boys and girls is the resources available for help. While there are fewer alternatives for boys, there are some here in Austin, including Cedar Springs Austin on Bee Caves Road.

"Unfortunately there are a number of facilities that do not treat men, and what that does is it really reinforces the stigma that this is a female only problem," said Brad Kennington of Cedar Springs Austin.

It is a trend Kennington, Executive Director and COO of Cedar Springs Austin, is trying to change.

"The feelings that we're allowed to show are anger or rage, but any of the softer feelings they're off limits, including the shame and the embarrassment," said Kennington.

When males enter the state-of-the art facility treatment targets their self-esteem and how they look at food. There is a private kitchen with a chef and group sessions so that the thousands of boys and men see they are not alone.

"We have to be really sensitive to some of the issues and some of the symptoms that we may not see as a problem that actually are a problem."

Kennington says those most vulnerable to eating disorders include:

-someone who constantly is checking themselves in the mirror or weighing themselves

-one who counts calories or over exercises

-athletes

-and gay or bi-sexual male teens are more likely to develop eating disorders.

While it is a topic most guys want to avoid, we were able to find a few on the UT campus who would admit they probably know someone going struggling with body dysmorphia,

Both Kennington and Cuban say more guys must come out and share their stories if society is going to change its attitude on men with body dysmorphia.

"If I can do it, there's some hope," Cuban said.

Cedar Springs Austin treats both males and females. If you have a child you believe is struggling with body dysmorphia, experts say the best thing to do is talk to your children and your doctor about what treatment might be best for them.

LINK: Cedar Springs Austin

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