It’s about Image

Remember Andre Agassi’s commercial?

Here’s proof:

10:24AM EST November 19. 2012 – When it comes to body image, large, lean and muscular is in, and it’s “extremely common” for teenagers to turn to diet, exercise, protein powders or steroids in hopes of bulking up and enhancing muscle development, a study finds.

Although these techniques are most often seen among boys, in some cases they are nearly as widespread among girls, says the study published Monday inPediatrics.

Asked about methods they have used to increase their muscle size or tone, 2,793 middle school and high school students (average age 14) in Minneapolis/St. Paul said they:

• Changed eating: 68% boys; 62% of girls

• Exercised more: 91% boys; 81% of girls

• Used protein powders or shakes: 35% boys; 21% girls

• Used steroids: 6% boys; 5% girls

• Used other muscle-enhancing substances such as creatine, amino acids, hydroxyl methylbutyrate (HMB), DHEA, or growth hormones: 11% boys; 6% girls

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  • I was at a seminar once where body image was being discussed. To illustrate a point, the presenter showed photographs of the Ken and Barbie doll from the 1950’s and then contrasted these with today’s figurines (pun intended). The modern Barbie’s breasts have tripled in cup size and her waist is predominately more hour-glass shaped while Ken has morphed into the physical equivalent of Rambo. Both have become pretty “pumped up” compared to their counter-parts.

    As for the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances, this is sometimes a symptom of an eating disorder in males (of course there would have to be other symptoms as well). Contrary to the myth that eating disorders only occur in females, they are not gender exclusive.

  • It would be interesting to know how much these same young people care about their thought patterns and spiritual well-being. Caring about the body is caring about something that is essentially superficial. And the way they care is not exactly health-giving – it’s all about appearance.

    I suspect the same applies to our minds and hearts when we are young. (Obviously I’m generalising here, there will be plenty of exceptions.)

    Of course, attitudes change as we grow older and, hopefully, more comfortable with ourselves. Growing in maturity should at least move some of the focus from the superficial to the deeper aspects of life. I wonder if there are any studies that follow groups of individuals for significant lengths of time (several decades) to record and analyse changes in their efforts to control appearance, self-esteem and behaviour?