| Super-thin models and actresses are everywhere
– in magazines, on television, in movies. They set up an ideal
body image that young girls worry about living up to. Boys are
lucky they do not have to deal with that — or do they?
17-year-old Blake Fechtel has a hard time looking at the
images of ‘perfection’ in magazines.
“They have perfectly angular chins with these chin bones
that just come out and make you feel ugly,” he says.
For years, rail-thin supermodels have set outrageous expectations
for girls. But these days, boys are faced a similar message.
“These hard body, six pack stomach, Adonis type bodies
that are airbrushed, unrealistic, hard to achieve,” says
psychologist Dr. Dina Zeckhausen.
In fact, researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Green
Bay, found boys are just as insecure about their bodies as
Dr. Zeckhausen explains why: “The boys are comparing
themselves to these images and of course coming up short.”
And that is why some boys take dangerous drugs like steroids
or creatine to get bigger. That is one problem. The other
is the endless hours they spend lifting weights.
Dr. Zeckhausen says it is not a problem if boys want to get
in shape and be healthy.
“Where it may be getting in the way of studying or socializing,
if it seems to be taking up too much of their time and energy,
then it’s probably a problem,” Zeckhausen says.
Blake now understands that the issue is balance.
“I had to make the choice between going to work out
and going to back-work and getting my homework done, or getting
a project turned in on time, or getting sleep or making practice
on time,” he says.
Experts say parents can help kids make the right choice by
setting a healthy example, explaining the world of modeling
is make-believe. And then remind them that how you look does
not define who you are.
“It’s important to help a child feel good about who
they are on the inside and remind them that these images are
unrealistic. They’re unattainable. They’re not what’s going
to make them happy,” says Dr. Zeckhausen.
Blake agrees: “Life exists beyond your body or beyond
how you look. That is not the most important thing in your