‘Lure of the Body Image’ by Susan Mcclelland

The article focuses on the sudden increase of anabolic steroid use, cosmetic surgery visits and rises in eating disorders amongst the prevalent human male species. This sudden change she argues is due to a body-image crisis amongst men, because of various societal pressures through the aesthetic, the media and the pop culture.

She postulates her assumption based on the controversial advertisements, images and films aimed to help enhance the muscularity of the male figure. Thus, the media forces a viewpoint based on prejudice, and forces people to abuse and damage their bodies to obtain these stereotypical images.

The stereotyped body image, idealizing a brawny and muscled body, to get an edge on the competition of attracting the human females, is an early warning to an obsessive devotion, which will engulf the entire culture soon. This leads us to posit, male gender heading towards an epidemic where a fitness club will stand on every street corner, men doing lunges at their office desks and consuming heavy dosage of steroids, in the utmost desires of identifying wit the societal portrayal of a masculine physique and pursuing the ‘fairer’ sex aggressively than their competitors.

Culture of Steroids

Steroids are classified as natural and, in some cases, synthetic hormones that are used for the purpose of promoting cell growth and division. Steroids generally have two effects. The first is androgenic, that is the development of the male characteristic such as deepening of the voice and development of body hairs. The anabolic element affects the development and growth of muscle tissues. The first person to be awarded for his work on steroids was Adolph Winhaus in 1927; he got the award for work and eventual isolation of testosterone in 1935 (Fitness-world; Steroids 8).

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Benefits of Steroid Usage

Testosterone is originally counted as the responsible agent for fetal development of the male genitalia (Bernhard 3). Once the child is born, testosterone also enhances the development of bone muscle and sexual organ development. Some of the synthetic steroids are taken orally or injected for the improved performance of athletes. The obvious advantages include the enhancement of muscle growth and hasten the repair on straining that occurs on muscle tissue. For many decades, the medical community has acknowledged a very real link between the effectiveness of steroid in-take and the improvement of the body tone and athletic performance.

Effects of Steroid Use

Like most drugs, the continued use of steroids has side effects which depend on the amount taken as well as the duration of use. These side effects are what makes steroids dangerous, especially when some of them are from the black market and are also unregulated. Some of the initial side effects include acne, hair growth, and increased aggression. The heavy side effects start when the user stops taking the regular dosage. In some cases, they are liable to experience withdrawal symptoms that include depression, nausea, and irritability. The muscles tend to shrink, and the strength also declines from immediate withdrawal over the period of 6 to 12 weeks.
The scary thing about steroids is that while the studies have been done regarding the short-term effects of steroids, there is little known about the long-term effects.

Physical Effects

Even if it is only for a short time, steroids can produce all sorts of undesirable and dangerous physical ills. The muscles may increase along with the body fat; however, as one continues to use more steroids over time, there are increasing occurrences of muscle cramps and aching joints and nosebleeds. Similarly, the muscles might also swell to Herculean extents. The psychological effects include increased aggression in users, where their levels of irritability become twice higher than normal.

Steroids in Professional Sports & High School Athletics

Apparently, young people are quite susceptible to the fit and healthy images that they see on TV. However, by using steroids, they are, in fact, opposite to achieving overall wellbeing as well the fitness goals. Recent surveys have shown mixed reactions of people asked if they would take steroids to improve their performance to win an award such as the gold medal. This is quite alarming considering that people know most of the negative effects entailed in steroid use.

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Recent reports of steroid use in major league baseball and the football league as well as the Olympics have initiated concern on a global level. This includes plans to provide legislation for new drug testing policies (Robert 1).

Eating Disorders

Bulimia nervosa, as an eating disorder, is mainly characterized by purging and binge eating. Purging can include self-induce vomiting, excessive exercises, as well as the usage of diuretics, laxatives and enemas. Bulimia nervosa is a related disorder which affects two to three percent of young American women. This disease is most commonly described as the cycle of eating huge quantities of food, as to say thousands of calories in one sitting, and then ridding the body of this food through some form of self-purging. Many of these methods are often incorporated simultaneously. The bulimic patients usually think that this practice of bingeing and purging is disgusting and does so in private. This makes bulimia nervosa difficult to detect and treat.

By definition, body image does not necessarily refer to what a person actually looks like, but rather to the way a person feels about her/his body and their physical appearance. There are factors that can negatively influence a person’s body image. They range from the unrealistic expectations about appearance coming from peers, parents and/or friends to simply being repeatedly exposed to images of “perfect” bodies via the media. Most often, persons with an eating disorder have a distorted body image, but they cannot see themselves as other people see them. Therefore, a distorted body image is a sign of an eating disorder. People with eating disorders experience serious disturbances in their eating patterns, including extreme concern about body shape or weight, as well as severe and unhealthy reduction in their food intake or overeating. Usually eating disorders develop during adolescence or early adulthood stages of life. Despite the common notion that eating disorders may begin with pre-occupations with food and weight, often they are about much more than food since they arise from a variety of emotional, physical, as well as social issues.

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Therefore, all of these issues need to be addressed for effective prevention and treatment. The most important question that could be lingering in the minds of eating disorder patients is whether these disorders are treatable. The answer to this question is positive, because eating disorders are treatable. Moreover, better outcomes are most likely to be achieved when these disorders are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Thus, people with eating disorders who are treated early and appropriately can achieve a full and long-term recovery. These eating disorders require comprehensive, as well as long-term, treatment plans that usually involve an individual or family therapy or that may include medication and even immediate hospitalization. This means that support from family and friends is vital to successful treatment and recovery.

The number of men chasing the “ideal body image” has increased, yet individuals must be evaluated on their personal merits. The discovery of steroids and the initial work done on them was for beneficial attributes aimed at developing human beings on a physical level. However, the inclusion of competition as a possible opportunity has made its use to be looked upon with scorn, because it represents cheaters and frauds who want to win at an unfair advantage.

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