The Truth Behind Bigorexia

Konnor Woodburn, Sports Editor

Most people have heard of the disorder called anorexia. But according to BBC News,
many may not be aware of new studies have been published about a disorder that is being
referred to as a kind of “reverse anorexia”. This disorder, known as bigorexia, affects primarily
men, because media makes it seem as if they need have a certain amount of muscle, as opposed
to women.

According to Time Magazine, the amount of men seen on television with large muscles
originally was an anomaly, but in recent years has increased to the point that being on television
as an action hero without a decent musculature is now the oddity in this world. This pressure can
be the cause of bigorexia, when the urge to have the body seen on television can cause men to
make unhealthy choices.

Just as with anorexia, bigorexia makes men with the disorder see their bodies in the
opposite way from how they wish to appear. Unlike anorexia, however, bigorexia makes it so
that a person with the disorder seems themselves as too small, as opposed to too big. ‘Guys with
muscle dysmorphia are not trying to be skinny: their ideal physique is lean, cut, and very big, so
the type of dieting and exercise they do is different to people with anorexia,’ Says Scott Griffiths,
a psychologist from the University of Sydney whose research focuses on muscle dysmorphia and
eating disorders in men. ‘But it’s just as aggressive, so they too can look you in the eye and tell
you that they’re small, even though they’re huge.’

According to BBC News, the cause of bigorexia is unclear at this time. It is possibly a
genetic disorder or a combination of chemical balances in the brain. However, some health
professionals are looking at this as an addiction towards working out, and not just as a health
disorder. Sheri Jacobson, clinical director at Harley Therapy, said, “Exercise releases endorphin’s
which make us feel good and can become an addiction… However, I would say that as a society we
don’t judge exercise addiction as much as we would say addiction to alcohol… it can have
equally destructive consequences”
Bigorexia sounds like it might only affect serious bodybuilders, but data has shown that
there are a good portion of men that are affected by body image. And since teenagers are already
very susceptible to influences on the body, bigorexia poses a risk to those teen boys who see
themselves as too small.