Disordered Beauty

Anorexia In the mid-nineteenth century successful Western businessmen and politicians “tummy bulged.” Their relative obesity in societies in which the scourge of potential famine had only relatively recently been overcome was a sign of their high status and social success. Eating disorders were relatively rare then. They have now become much more common and are quite possibly increasing in the developed countries where there is relatively ample food.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Dissatisfaction with how you look is practically the norm. However, when someone becomes intensely preoccupied with what they believe to be a defect in their appearance, then they may be suffering from a mental health condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). While there may be a real basis for the concern, as for example, where acne is present, the sufferer’s preoccupation is intense and excessive.

Trichotillomania This is a condition which involves pulling out body hairs to the point where there is significant hair loss. Hair from any part of the body may be targeted, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic and perirectal areas. People with this condition usually notice that they feel either tension before the hair-pulling, or that they feel tension when they try not to give in to the impulse. Usually trichotillomaniacs feel significant distress about their conditions.

Ken Thompson: Body Image, Body Building, and Cultural Ideas of Muscularity An analysis of the ways in which changing ideas about men’s muscularity are beginning to impact upon men’s body image and ways in which some of the risks of this can be countered.

Buff Enough? by Jonathan Rauch. A review of the The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession, by Pope Jr., Phillips, and Olivardi. From Reason By the time I graduated from high school, I had reached my full height-not quite five feet, eight inches-and I weighed 105 pounds. Much earlier, when I was about 9 or 10, I had begun to notice that I was preoccupied with certain aspects of my appearance. After one of my father’s friends made a good-natured jibe about my “nice little potbelly,” I worried for months about my stomach and tried to keep it covered all the time.

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