Discusses the growing numbers of men who are taking the quest for perfect muscles, skin, and hair too far, crossing the line from normal interest to pathological obsession
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You see them everywhere. With their bulging arms and deltoids and pecs, not to mention their rippling abdominal muscles, they appear on magazine covers, in underwear ads, in action movies. And American men have noticed them; after a generation of being bombarded by images of idealized male physiques, men are growing increasingly insecure about their own appearance.
The authors have studied everything from bodybuilders to Playgirl centerfolds and concluded that the images presented to men and women have gotten steadily more muscular. As a result of this bombardment of pumped-up male imagery, American men have been developing eating disorders, working out to the point of obsession, and taking steroids. None of this is for health or sports performance but rather to develop a physique that matches those seen on the cover of Muscle & Fitness or in the next squat rack over.
Another consequence is a condition the authors call "muscle dysmorphia," also known as "reverse anorexia" or just "bigorexia." In this, men who are large and muscular look in the mirror and see someone who is puny and frail. So they pump iron and eat and take steroids and swell to ever-larger proportions, while being too ashamed of their bodies to take off their sweatshirts at the beach.
The authors postulate that all this has to do with the rising power of women in society. To back this up, they produce timelines showing how women's-rights milestones correlate with increasing images of men as sex objects.
What's the solution? The authors list some Web sites to help men suffering from the Adonis Complex to find therapists familiar with the problem. Sometimes antidepressants can work. But for most people, the answer is to understand that the images of perfect male physiques they see are unattainable, and that no one really expects them to look like that anyway. --Lou SchulerFrom the Inside Flap:
Praise for The Adonis Complex:
"Ten years after the Beauty Myth we finally understand the relationship between society's expectations of boys and men and how they think about their bodies. The Adonis Complex sounds the alarm about the newest and least understood threat to their physical, social, and emotional development. Everyone who cares about men, young and old, should read this indispensable book." --William Pollack, Ph.D., author of Real Boys: Rescuing our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood
"A great many men suffer in silence with body image obsession. This innovative book describes in vivid detail how and why this develops and offers wise and practical solutions. From models to mirrors, from steroids to sexuality, this book covers ground as no other." --Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., Director, Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, Yale University
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