Majority of men in Britain show signs of body dysmorphia, study says

Low body confidence had negatively impacted the social and love lives, mental health and even career progression of both men and women

Kate Ng
Friday 19 November 2021 10:13 GMT

A significant proportion of both men and women in Britain display signs of body dysmorphia and say that low body confidence has had a negative impact on different aspects of their lives, a new study has found.

According to a survey by social enterprise Better, the majority of men (54 per cent) and nearly half of women (49 per cent) show signs of body dysmorphia.

A survey of 2,000 respondents, both men and women, found that about a third of both think “often” about making their body “muscular or lean enough”, while more men (34 per cent) have exercised despite being sick or injured than women (27 per cent).

Around the same proportion of men and women said they have felt anxious about missing a workout (26 per cent and 23 per cent respectively), but a higher number of men (24 per cent) have forgone work obligations or social activities in order to maintain a workout schedule or diet compared to women (15 per cent).

Young people were more likely to experience symptoms of body dysmorphia, with 81 per cent admitting they have felt this way. More than half of 18 to 24-year-olds (51 per cent) said they have given up work obligations or social activities to maintain a workout schedule.

A lack of confidence affects both men and women, but more women (42 per cent) say they rarely or never feel body confidence compared to men (23 per cent), according to the survey.

Of those who reported having low body confidence, a quarter of male respondents said it has negatively affected their social and love life, while a third of female respondents said the same.

In nearly all areas, women said low body confidence negatively affected them more than men. These included social and love life (35 per cent of women compared to 25 per cent of men), and mental health (36 per cent of women compared to 17 per cent of men).

However, more men (11 per cent) said low body confidence negatively affected their career progression compared to women (seven per cent).

The survey also revealed differences between how men and women celebrate body positivity or engage with it online.

After conducting a social media analysis of Instagram posts that used the #bodypositivity hashtag, Better found that 83 per cent of all posts were made by or featured women, compared to 10 per cent of posts made by or featuring men.

The results of the survey reflected these social media findings, with significantly more women (57 per cent) feeling comfortable discussing their body image with a friend than men (39 per cent).

It also found that men are more likely to have received or know someone who has received online abuse directed at the way their body looks. Men were also far more likely to have left a negative comment about someone else’s physical appearance (21 per cent) than women (eight per cent).

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