How to spot body issues in your boy
The ideal male body image is gaining muscle and losing fat—often to an unrealistic degree.
Not surprisingly, this changing representation of the male
body is having an unhealthy effect on tweens and teens.
Young boys and teens are inundated with advertising and
celebrity images of men who have bulging biceps and six-pack abs. Even toys
like action figures are bulking up. Social media platforms like Facebook,
Instagram and Snapchat can also have a powerful effect on a boy's body image.
Studies have shown that both boys and girls who spend a lot of time on social
media comparing themselves to the photos they see may be more likely to develop
body image disturbances.
Body image issues are common when boys go through puberty,
which tends to occur later in boys than in girls. Puberty is a complex series
of transformations that include physical changes as well as cognitive and
psychosocial changes. These changes don't necessarily all occur at the same
rate. Teens and pre-teens may not be prepared for the changes occurring in
their bodies, and this can lead to misconceptions about body image.
Signs that your son may be developing a poor body image can
being overly focused on perceived physical
imperfections in himself or others comparing his appearance to that of celebrities,
advertising images or friends spending lots more time in front of the mirror
and never being satisfied with his appearance becoming preoccupied with working out and
wanting bigger muscles getting upset because his clothes never feel
right or look right
What can you do if you suspect a problem?
First, talk with your son. Ask questions and
listen without judgment. Because media messages about ideal body image
are so pervasive, it's important to discuss these messages with your son and
help him gain perspective. Help your son become confident in his physical
abilities. If traditional team sports are not his thing, give him opportunities
to explore other athletic pursuits: mountain biking, rock climbing, swimming,
yoga or dance. Teach your son to recognize his own strengths
and unique qualities. What does he do well? Non-athletic skills like playing an
instrument, drawing, or writing computer code are satisfying and can open doors
to new activities and friends. Encourage healthy habits, like getting enough
sleep, eating wisely and getting regular exercise without overdoing it. If your son is frequently upset by how he looks
or worried that he'll never have the "right" physique, talk with his health
care provider about your concerns.