The Concern for Body Dysmorphia

The reality about how girls struggle with their body image is largely well-known thanks to social media and advertising. Without belittling the problem, it’s important to see the perspective of how and when boys also struggle with body image. Social media and other forms of entertainment advertise a perfect masculine body. Discouraged, some bodybuilders and weightlifters can make poor decisions with what they do with their bodies regarding muscle building. Regardless of its faults, weightlifting is still healthy.

At Bingham, the weightlifting culture definitely exists with dozens of young men and women committing to some kind of a lifting program. Nothing too drastic is happening, but it’s important to note where some issues may stem from. When asked why he started weightlifting, Hunter Olschewski, a Bingham senior, explained, “I was insecure about the way I looked. I wanted to put on some mass after being super skinny and seeing these really muscular guys and wanting to be like them.” Another senior at Bingham, Hayden Hill expressed, “I initially wanted to cut back on some weight but when I did that, people started calling me skinny as an insult. So, I wanted to gain back weight in muscle to be a better version of myself. It turned into a hobby from there.” Hill continued by saying, “I guess you could say that I kind of have a problem with always seeing ways to improve how I look, which I think a lot of people will go through once they see that they have the ability to change their body from how it looks. I’ve learned to trust and be patient with the process.”

Hunter Olschewski (Photo by Hunter Olschewski)
Hayden Hill (Photo by Hayden Hill)















Both of these healthy perspectives include feelings of inadequacy about body image. They have both expressed that they have grown out of a lot of insecurities and have found joy in who they are. While these two students do approach their weightlifting with a healthy perspective, some weightlifters take their workout to an extreme outlook that could lead to an unhealthy body image problem or even body dysmorphia.

“Body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance—a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious that you may avoid many social situations,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Body image problems have a range of severity levels. Instagram and other social media influencers such as Chris Bumstead, Noel Deyzel, and David Laid present their muscled bodies online to inspire a community to grow and take pride in their accomplishments. Thousands of youth are beginning muscle-building training schedules because of them. Millions are becoming healthier because of influencers’ inspiration. However, there comes a time when young men are working out and feel like they aren’t making enough progress quickly enough. They see people with huge muscles, but they hardly see the long, arduous process. This can lead to body dysmorphia which has caused many to fall onto dangerous paths.

An example of dangerous practices that arise out of body image problems is a fifteen-year-old, with the screen-name BigNattyDaddy, who is an aspiring influencer that uses steroids to boost his muscle growth. He claims he knows what he’s doing, but the sad truth is that he’s addicted. His addiction is a direct result of his desire to change his appearance. Men’s Health wrote an article on him and said, “The answer’s simple: steroids don’t work. Sure, you might see short-term gains, but they’re unsustainable—as soon as you come off steroids you’re vulnerable to anabolic steroid-induced hypogonadism. And yes, it is as scary as it sounds. ASIH means muscle and strength loss, fat gain, bone loss, poor sleep, sexual dysfunction, depression, irritability, and fatigue.”

Steroids aren’t the only dangerous path for those struggling with body dysmorphia. Some men, more commonly in developing countries, are known to inject Synthol into their muscles which causes them to expand. While Synthol may make muscles look bigger, it’s an oil solution that eats at tissue and damages muscles, crippling them. Their addictive properties lead to death in many cases. These detrimental behaviors often stem from body dysmorphia and negative body image views.

Individuals need to know that what people think of them isn’t as important as how they feel about themselves. “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today,” says weightlifting influencer Noel Deyzel. Comparing yourself to others can lead to body dysmorphia. Male weightlifters and athletes struggle with body image. The severity of this issue causes many unhealthy problems like steroids and cosmetic oil injections. It’s completely preventable.

“Keep chasing the impossible and realize that you’ll end up better than what you thought was possible. It’s about growth, not necessarily results,” explained Hunter Alba, another Bingham senior. What’s needed is for everyone to find happiness in their achievements and realize that the only opinions that matter are those of people they respect and who respect them.