What is Bigorexia or Muscle Dysmorphia?
You’ve heard about Anorexia, the eating disorder that is often associated with female supermodels and insecure teen girls and/or women. It’s basically girls(and women) trying to live up to the beauty standards of super skinny and super photoshopped supermodels, actresses and other famous female personalities that could be looked up to as idols or role models. Anorexia sucks, it can lead to severe mental issues that can potentially never be fully cured and could even lead to death.
However, there’s a flip side to this coin. It’s the dark and ugly truth 90% of the guys you see pumping iron in the gym deep down inside know but are scared to say out loud. Yes, we are talking about having small calves. Just kidding, I’m talking about “Bigorexia” or Muscle Dysmorphia if you want to be all science-y.
Bigorexia is much more widespread than it people tend to think. I would say that not only does every professional bodybuilder have muscle dysmorphia, but at least half the guys at every gym suffer from it. If you are never satisfied with your body no matter how big or strong you are. Chances are, it’s because of muscle dysmorphia. Every time you shifted your fitness goal because of someone else looked better or was stronger than you, I can tell you with 100% certainty it is because of muscle dysmorphia.
Muscle dysmorphia has been on medical physicians radars since the late 90’s or 1997, to be exact, which interestingly enough, is when the “mass monsters” started appearing on the bodybuilding scene. Just for curiosity sake, I googled 1996 Mr. Olympia and well…take a look at this picture.
I am sure that there are plenty of other factors that contributed to the birth of bigorexia, but the way professional bodybuilders started growing in the late 90’s without an end in sight really didn’t do the mental disorder any favors.
Even though it may seem like a no-brainer that bodybuilders like Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman led to guys being even more sensitive about their bodies and taking it to the next extreme level, the science and facts about muscle dysmorphia are still very fresh. There are some studies that support the thesis above but there’s still a lot of work to be done here. This disorder is so young that it only got classified as a mental disorder in 2013! That’s 5 years ago, which is just two Fast and Furious movies a go…and they churn out like 5 of those yearly.
Regardless, you can’t tell me that the steady influx of huge ass dudes in the fitness industry didn’t have a direct effect on the young minds of insecure men who saw(and still see) living Gods in these individuals. Ronnie Coleman is arguably the world’s most famous bodybuilder, right behind Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s famous worldwide and adored and looked up by millions of men around the world. Imagine the impact he has on other people’s lives?
What it all comes down too is not being satisfied with the way you look no matter how good you look, and that my fellow readers, leads to depression, substance abuse, and an early grave. Take for example The Man, The Myth, The Eternal Legend- Rich Piana. Rich openly talked about his obsession(which turned into his lifestyle) of never being satisfied and never being at peace with his looks. In a 2015 video covering bigorexia, he flat out said he started suffering from it at just six years old! His obsession with the He-Man action figure and having a mother that competed in fitness lead to him starting a career in bodybuilding at a very young age. A long career that led him to sever body dysmorphia, severe substance abuse and premature death at the age of 46. All in the name of getting big and staying big. Rich Piana is not an isolated case, bodybuilding and early deaths have a long and sad history. It’s happened before and it will happen again and again and again.
Remember, how I said Ronnie Coleman is one the most popular bodybuilders ever? Well, he can barely walk these days and there’s a big “if” on will he ever be able to walk at all! That’s the price he paid for all those years of extreme eating, dieting, and heavy lifting.
So..how do we stop this disorder from spreading? The first thing you have to do is accept your body as it is. You are beautiful no matter what they say, words can’t bring you down. Yes, I just quoted Christina Aguilera. Seriously though, you need to be happy with your own body. Yeah, that dude in your gym is squatting reps with your max, but he’s also on some serious roids and is a total douchebag.
If chasing women is your fitness goal as it is with most guys, you might have noticed something. Your biceps are not literal women magnets. If you want to get her attention, don’t just wear a size “s” shirt because your arms look sweet in them and hope women will rush towards you asking you how much you bench. Put on an “xs” shirt, too make your arms look even more jacked, then man up and go tell that girl you’ve been stalking about your bench press pr. It all comes down to acceptance and happiness. Everything else gets solved by proper angles and lighting.