TIME Mental health/Psycholog

4 Signs Your Body Image Isn’t Healthy

woman-holding-shoulder
Getty Images

Last week, Tallulah Willis—daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore—bravely shared her struggles with body dysmorphic disorder in a video for StyleLikeU. “I’m diagnosed [with] body dysmorphia,” Willis, 20, told the fashion blog. “[My biggest insecurity] is my face. That’s where my diagnosis came into play. Because of the position I was born into, I would read these things on the Internet and I was like, well, Why would someone write that if there wasn’t some basis for truth out there?”

“It was something I never wanted to say out loud because it was so painful.” Willis goes on to talk about how hearing mean comments about her face drove her to dress provocatively and lose a lot of weight, thinking she could draw the attention to her body instead. “I started starving myself,” she says. “I got down to 95 pounds.”

Health.com: 10 Signs You May Have OCD

This is exactly why body dysmorphic disorder (or BDD) can be so difficult to diagnose, explains Health contributing psychology editor Gail Saltz, MD. “Disordered eating can be a symptom of it, but there is no surefire sign. What body dysmorphic disorder really means is that you are so preoccupied with either a real (but slight) or imagined imperfection that you become consumed by it.”

Plenty of healthy people have a body hang-up or two that makes very little sense (mine’s my fat ankles, full disclosure), so how do you know when someone you love is really struggling? Here are four ways to recognize body dysmorphia.

They always need reassurance about that one thing

“Most people who have body dysmorphia are not going to talk about it openly because they feel a lot of shame,” Dr. Saltz says. “But sometimes, it’s a friend who keeps asking you repeatedly for reassurance about this one body part.” If supportive comments like “No, your arms aren’t fat, really!” or “No, your nose is beautiful” don’t seem to make them feel even a little better, that could be a red flag.

Health.com: 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

They dress in a way that doesn’t make sense

Obviously, you don’t have to agree with every style choice your friends make, but think twice if she’s dressing in a way that suggests she’s trying to compensate for that one thing. “For example, she’s putting on a tent of a dress and saying it’s to hide her belly that doesn’t exist,” Dr. Saltz says. Or in the case of Tallulah Willis, she mentioned that she would wear short-shorts and push-up bras in a bid to shift attention away from her face.

Health.com: 12 Ways We Sabotage Our Mental Health

They go to extremes

“Dysmorphia fits in with this constellation of anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder,” explains Dr. Saltz. “It’s a compulsion that gets in the way of your life.” So in the same way that no amount of hand washing satisfies a person with OCD, no amount of “fixing” seems to help people with BDD. Some patients may even get plastic surgery, and then still think they need more work done after they’ve healed, while others try a progressively restricted diet to lose, say, an imagined double chin.

Health.com: 7 Strategies to Love the Way You Look

They’re hiding out

“The thing separating a normal insecurity from a problem with body dysmorphia is how much it affects your ability to function,” Dr. Saltz explains. If you notice that that she’s not going out as much, or she doesn’t want to date, or maybe she’s turned down a promotion because she doesn’t want to have to give presentations, those are signs her body issues are getting in the way of her life.

Amelia Harnish is an Associate Editor at Health.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Living

Why Teens Are Turning to Human Growth Hormones for the ‘Perfect’ Body

A generation aware of the risks of eating disorders now has performance-enhancing drugs available at a click--but not much information on their possible side effects.

A new survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that 11% of the 3,705 high-schoolers surveyed reported “having used” synthetic human growth hormones without a prescription. This reflects that use may have more than doubled from when a similar survey was conducted four years ago. One in five teens even reported knowing at least one friend who uses a performance-enhancing drug (PEDs).

As an educator who works with children and teens around the country and a high school senior, we believe that more young people are turning to steroids and other PEDs for one reason: the constant pressure for both boys and girls to have a “perfect” body.

It’s common knowledge that girls are under tremendous pressure to conform to an unhealthy and unrealistically thin body image. It may seem odd that some girls would look to PEDs to achieve this “perfect” body, but a quick internet search reveals thousands of advertisements for steroids promising weight loss specifically for women. This generation of girls has grown up knowing about eating disorders and their potential health dangers. Is it possible that girls today are now seeking out drugs (that they can instantly buy online) because they think it will give them the edge to achieve the ideal body—without knowing their possible side affects?

For boys, the common assumption is that steroid use is associated with athletes. But there’s increased cultural pressure for all boys, not just athletes, to fit a hyper masculine body image. It begins early (for example, 6-year-old boys commonly believe they should have a six pack) and then intensifies as the boys get older. Combine that with our collective inability or unwillingness to give boys a language, and therefore permission, to talk about the pressure boys feel to conform to an unrealistic image of masculinity (as we regularly do for girls with cultural messages of femininity) and it’s almost impossible for boys to admit their shame and inadequacy. Consequently, they’re driven to solve the “problem” privately, however they can. In that light, taking PEDs for purely aesthetic reasons becomes a logical decision.

For high school athletes, it’s all about getting bigger and better. Almost every guy wants to gain weight and muscle. Even among non-athletes, many boys get teased for being skinny and small or having “moobs (“man boobs”). But just as constant is boys’ insistence that they can never share these humiliations publicly. In the rare times they do complain, adults hardly give it the serious consideration they do when girls are targeted in the same way.

In the January issue of JAMA Pediatrics, a study (Prospective Associations of Concerns About Physique and the Development of Obesity, Binge Drinking, and Drug Use Among Adolescent Boys and Young Adult Men) reported that 18% of boys are highly concerned about their weight and physique. They’re also at increased risk for a variety of negative outcomes: Boys in the study who were extremely concerned about weight were more likely to be depressed, and more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and drug use. Though 18% might be on the low side, between 28% and 68% of young men at a normal weight perceive themselves to be underweight, according to the .

What’s the cost? The common assumption is that boys don’t care about being teased about body image the way girls do. We challenge that assumption and want to shift the conversation about PEDs and body image so we all believe boys have the right to receive the same empowering messages that girls get. We live in a culture that can undermine your sense of self by giving you one, almost impossible, image of an “acceptable” body. Boys, just like girls, have the right to know that. Boys, just like girls, have the right to acknowledge that it affects your sense of self and you have the right to talk about it without being dismissed or ridiculed. And finally, boys, just like girls, have the right to be educated about these issues so they don’t risk their physical health and emotional well being to chase an impossible ideal.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of Masterminds &Wingmen and Queen Bees & Wannabes. Keo Jamieson is a senior at Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado.

TIME celebrity

From Kim’s Butt to Angelina’s Lips: The Plastic Surgery Procedures Women Want

Valentino : Front Row  - Paris Fashion Week : Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015
Jacopo Raule—WireImage/Getty Images

According to data from a popular online cosmetic surgery community

Remember the woman who spent $30,000 to look like Kim Kardashian? Well, she’s certainly not the only person who has spent serious time and money t0 look like a celebrity — and Kim in particular. In fact, for women seeking cosmetic surgery, Kim’s butt is the most requested celebrity feature, according to data from RealSelf.com, an online community where users come together to discuss plastic surgery procedures.

To determine which celebrity features are most popular, RealSelf scanned all its content pages to see which names users are mentioning the most when inquiring about procedures. So in other words, this data is more anecdotal than scientific, says Alicia Nakamoto, vice president of community at RealSelf.

To get a derrière like Kim’s, most women opt for the the Brazilian Butt Lift, which is a procedure that takes fat from one part of the body (like the abdomen, thighs or arms) and transfers it to the buttocks. The average cost is $6,725.

After Kim, here are the other most popular celebrity mentions of 2014, along with the corresponding body part or procedure:

  • Beyoncé – butt
  • Madonna – face and hands (anti-aging)
  • Angelina Jolie – cheeks, lips
  • Rihanna – skin lightening
  • Jennifer Lawrence – nose
  • Jennifer Lopez – butt
  • Kate Middleton – nose, smile
  • Julia Roberts – lips, smile

Every once in a while, a key moment in pop culture will cause a spike in celebrity requests. When Maleficent hit theaters, for example, more women began inquiring about Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones. When Snooki was popular (remember those days?) and got some work done to her teeth, people began asking about getting theirs as white as hers. And when Krista from The Bachelorette underwent a post-natal “mommy makover,” a surge of women began expressing interest in the procedure as well.

But for the most part, the majority of people discussing plastic surgery on RealSelf don’t reference specific famous people at all.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people do not want to look like a celebrity,” Nakamoto says. “They just want to fix something very personal and go on with their lives feeling more confident with themselves.”

TIME Body Image

Harvard Women’s Rugby Team Wants You to Know Strength Is Beautiful

Lydia Burns and Shelby Lin

"Ripped," "so strong" and "fearless"

Amid movies and advertisements that promote stick-thin women, and even fitness magazines that focus on “lean” and “toned” bodies, the Harvard women’s rugby team has an important message: strength is beautiful.

The team staged a photo shoot in which they all wore matching sports bras and spandex and wrote empowering messages on each other’s bodies. “Powerful,” reads one girl’s knuckles. “Ripped,” says another’s bicep, and “Beautiful & Fierce!” announces another girl’s stomach.

“I think the notion of strength being beautiful is so overlooked in our society because strength is historically associated with masculinity, and women are taught that they must be strictly feminine to be beautiful,” player Helen Clark told TODAY.com.

The photos were published in June along with an essay in the Harvard Political Review, and have gone viral in recent weeks.

“We hope seeing our photos will encourage women to go out and find a space like rugby where their bodies are celebrated for their inherent strength and power,” Clark said, “Rather than just for how they look in a bikini.”

TIME health

Study: Even Elementary School Kids Are Unhappy With Their Bodies

About half of Australian kids of average and below average weight are dissatisfied with their bodies

A study released Tuesday by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that children as young as 8 were unhappy with their body size and that the majority of 10-and-11-year-olds tried to manage their weight in the past year.

The longitudinal study surveyed over 4,000 children between the ages of 8 and 9 and then again between the ages of 10 and 11. The results showed that children were more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies at a younger age, between 8 and 9.

“There are some concerns there, that at that age, children are already feeling bad about their bodies,” AIFS Executive Manager Dr. Ben Edwards said. “What we are seeing is that kids are starting to think about this far earlier than people had realised and the implications of that on psycho-social development also seem to be occurring much earlier.”

Edwards and his team also found a connection between a satisfied body image and the child’s physical and emotional health. Fortunately a higher proportion of children were happy with their body size by the time they reached 10 or 11, but this increase only occurred among normal and underweight children while satisfaction continued to decrease among overweight children.

The research also applied to both sexes and showed a higher prevalence of body weight management among young boys than young girls. “While there were no differences [in the percentages of] boys and girls trying to lose weight, more boys tried to gain weight and less did nothing to control their weight compared to girls of the same age,” said AIFS researcher Galina Daraganova.

Similar studies on children’s body image in the United States have focused exclusively on young girls, such as Girl Scouts of America’s 2010 “Beauty Redefined” study that surveyed 1,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Their results found that 31% of girls had starved themselves or refused to eat in order to lose weight.

But, for some specialists, the early onset of these issues should be of the highest concern. “I find it really disturbing that we are finding these statistics at such a young age,” said Eve Reed, a pediatric dietician. “I think it is important to communicate the very strong message that children are loved, whatever shape and size they are, and that everybody is different.”

 

TIME Body Image

‘Bigorexia’ and the Male Quest For More Muscle

man-working-out
Man working out. Vetta/Getty Images

Much has been made of the decreased effect of gravity on female movie stars in recent decades, and how this sets an impossible standard for girls, leading to body image issues.

But a similar effect has taken place with men, with the scale moving in the opposite direction.

Charlton Heston spent most of the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes shirtless, but such a torso would never suffice for today’s action hero. That’s why the 2001 reboot had former underwear model Mark Wahlberg as the lead.

The James Bond body stayed pretty static across multiple actors, until the perfectly ripped Daniel Craig added 007 to his tagline. When Casino Royale premiered hearts went aflutter when his license to thrill physique sauntered out of the ocean blue.

There has been a shift in what gets seen while shirtless on the silver screen, and men have noticed. Schwarzenegger was one of the first, followed quickly by Jean Claude Van Damme, as guys who fit the description of, “Well, they can’t act, and their English isn’t so good, but damn, they look pretty from the neck down, so … roll camera!”

But such hyper-muscled warriors were anomalies in the 80s. Christopher Reeve may have looked good as Superman, but he was positively puny compared to Henry Cavill’s 2013 version of the man of steel.

An entire industry has sprung up around the desire to achieve the latest male movie star musculature. Stories of regular actors being transformed for specific roles have permeated the media and lead to training tales a-plenty in magazines sporting the word “muscle” in the title.

In the year following the 2006 film 300, Google Trends shows a 300% increase in searches for the term “six pack abs.” Many magazines promise to relay the secrets of the “Superman workout” or the “Thor workout” or the “300 workout” or the “Insert-name-of-pumped-up-movie-hero-here workout.” What is often left out is the explanation of how these physical transformations become tightly controlled labor camps for the actors, and how the muscle gains and rippling midsections are fleeting.

This media pressure can lead to muscle dysmorphia (colloquially known as “bigorexia”), which is an obsession with not being muscular enough. Listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it strikes primarily among men who are already lean and muscular, compelling them to quest for even more muscle mass and ever lower levels of body fat. It can lead to compulsive exercise regimens that decrease quality of life, as well as disordered eating. Sometimes, anabolic steroids are sought out to quench one’s desire to be huge. The supplement industry sure has cashed in on all of this. It’s worth noting that many of those muscle mags are owned by supplement companies and used as vehicles to hawk their mass gaining wares.

Recently I interviewed Hugh Jackman about his Wolverine transformation, and instead of dwelling on the details of his workout, I asked him about the extremes taken to prepare him for shirtless scenes. “… everything changes the month before, and I’m timed down to the day,” Jackman told me. “There is water dehydration for 36 hours before. It’s quite a scientific process to looking your best.” He also told me of how his motivation to train so hard comes from knowing he’s going to be on a big screen in 3-D, and that he doesn’t keep that shape for long.

I also interviewed the stars of 300: Rise of an Empire and learned about how training and diet takes over the actors’ lives. And in a recent interview with actor and Old Spice pitchman Terry Crews he told me about taking diuretics to lean out for shirtless scenes.

Overall, I like seeing these powerful physiques on action stars, but I also understand what it takes to achieve them. I just wish more men realized what a near-impossible standard is being set, and instead of fretting over their own lack of visual “perfection,” would just sit back and enjoy the show.

Fell is a syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He blogs at www.SixPackAbs.com. You can follow him @BodyForWife.

 

 

TIME Body Image

Will Being Skinny Solve All My Problems?

87142025Still life of white iconic scale
Still life of white iconic scale Tooga—Getty Images

No one will ever have a perfect life, skinny or not

Growing up as a plus-size girl, the last day of school was always the first day of my master plan to lose weight. The plan, of course, was to get skinny over the summer break so that I could wow everyone with my new body on the first day of school. I had wonderful fantasies of my triumphant return as skinny CeCe.

In junior high, the fantasy was simple: I would come back to school skinny, my crush would fall in love with me, and my life would be perfect. In the high school fantasy, I would come back to school skinny, my crush would fall in love with me, I’d get the lead part in the school play, and then my life would be perfect.

Through college, the fantasy changed, but the template remained the same: get skinny, blah blah blah, and my life would be perfect. The idea that skinny meant having a perfect life was a silent mantra that I would affirm as I watched my more slender friends experience major (and, sometimes very minor) milestones that seemed to allude me. If I were skinny, he would have bought me a drink. If I were skinny, I could shop there, too. If I were skinny, I would have gotten that job.

(MORE: Is There Such A Thing As Being Fat And Fit?)

Then, a random night out changed everything. I was invited to a BBW club in NYC. A BBW club is bar-slash-night club specifically for big girls and the men who are attracted to them. Walking into the club, my weight was a non-factor because all of the women were plus-size. I began to see myself in a completely different light: Instead of standing on the wall silently apologizing for being a big girl, I was confidently dancing, talking to people, and generally having a great time. It might seem ridiculous, but I felt like the night had endless possibilities — this was the perfect life I’d been imagining.

That’s when it hit me: The only variable that had changed was my issue with my weight. When I stopped acting like a perfect life was only accessible to the non-existent Skinny CeCe, my perfect life began to open up.

(MORE: 3 New Kale Recipes For A Summer Detox)

I always say you shouldn’t wait on your weight, because for a long time, I fell into the habit of believing life would open up to me if only I’d lost a few dozen pounds. There were so many things that I was saving for my “perfect life,” and so many things that I thought that only Skinny CeCe could do — and feeling confident was definitely one of them.

But, I had been waiting on Skinny CeCe to show up since I was a pre-teen. And frankly, she was late, and I had things to do, so I began to do them. I forced myself to address why I hid behind my extra pounds (read: It was an easy excuse for why things weren’t working out for me). and I started a plus-size dating blog. I experiment with my style on my YouTube channel, and I go on travel excursions. Even better? I’ve since given myself permission to live a healthy lifestyle without the pressure of being thin (which, coincidentally enough, actually lead to me losing 55 pounds).

(MORE: Introducing The Anti-Diet Project: It’s On)

No one will ever have a perfect life, skinny or not. I had to realize that outside of my weight, I had too much to be thankful for to keep myself boxed in. Letting go of the idea that my life couldn’t begin until I lost weight got me closer to perfection than I’ve ever been.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME Culture

Pretty Little Liars Star Talks GQ Photoshop Controversy

ELLEN VON UNWERTH for GQ

ABC Family’s cult hit Pretty Little Liars attracts troves of viewers for plenty of reasons: an addictive, confusing and sometimes nonsensical plot, five pretty little stars and a massive digital footprint that helps the show regularly trend on social media.

And while the plot might be considered stupid by some, the 20-something actresses who star on the show are far from it. The show’s main cast — Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, Shay Mitchell and Lucy Hale — command millions of followers on Twitter and Instgram and often draw attention to various real-world issues, particularly body image.

Recently, Bellisario, whose character on the show struggles with an addiction to performance-enhancing drugs, took to Instagram to get real about a recent GQ photo shoot of the Pretty Little Liars cast that blogs called out for being overly touched up. “My hips and thighs are a part of me (even though they magically weren’t in some shots!” she wrote, posting untouched photos from the day of the shoot. Bellisario also made a point of acknowledging the necessity of Photoshop for glossy magazine photos, while still pointing out the double standard: “This industry seems to invest more in perfection than in flaw.”

Bellisario and co-star Hale have both spoken about body image and eating disorder struggles while Benson, who’s also known for her racy role in Spring Breakers, bashed an ABC Family poster for the show on her Instagram for being overly re-touched. “Way too much photoshop,” she wrote. “We all have flaws. No one looks like this. It’s not attractive.”

 

 

TIME beauty

Lingerie Store Under Fire for Mannequins So Skinny Their Ribs Poke Out

Mobile Photography At The 2013 Milan Design Week
A creation by La Perla is displayed on April 13, 2013 in Milan, Italy. Vittorio Zunino Celotto—Getty Images

The lingerie store has removed the too-skinny mannequins and apologized

The high-end lingerie store La Perla has removed mannequins from its SoHo-neighborhood boutique in New York City, following complaints that the dummies were too skinny. While skinny models are the norm in most stores, customers complained that La Perla’s mannequins looked unhealthily thin.

The outcry began Monday when passersby Michael Rodoy took to Twitter to complain about the emaciated figures, whose ribs were clearly visible. Other customers reportedly complained to the store about the figures, too.

The picture began to circulate around the Internet, prompting La Perla to remove the models and issue a statement:

The mannequin photographed has been removed from the store and will not be used again by any La Perla boutique.

La Perla isn’t the first store to get flak for anorexic-looking mannequins. In 2011, customers criticized Gap for using impossibly thin mannequins in its “always skinny” jeans display. In fact, most mannequins in the U.S. are still between a svelte size 2 and a still-small size 6, and often if you peak behind the figures, you’ll find clips pulling the clothes so that they are more form-fitting. As my TIME colleague Laura Stampler has pointed out, many mannequins are six inches taller and six sizes smaller than the average woman. “Clothes look better on tall, thin, abnormal bodies,” Bloomingdale’s visual director Roya Sullivan told the Chicago Tribune.

Such thinspiration-gone-wrong incidents have inspired some stores to display more voluptuous figures to model their clothes. Swedish chain Ahlens has been using full-figured mannequins for years. British department store Debenhams began displaying size-16 mannequins last year. And a trend of mannequins with enhanced breasts and buttocks is sweeping Venezuela. Managers at these department stores have said they hope the more realistically shaped women will help customers feel comfortable in their own bodies and also get a more realistic sense of what the clothes will look like when they try them on.

TIME health

Here’s What Happens When Young Girls Are Called Fat

71554754
Terry Vine—Getty Images/Blend Images

If a girl is told she is fat at age 10, she's more likely to be obese at 19

When you call a young girl fat, the effects could actually show up on the scale.

Girls who are told they are fat by a parent, siblings, friend, classmate or teacher when they are 10 years old are at a higher risk of being obese by the time they turn 19, according to a new study.

UCLA researchers looked at 1,213 African-American girls and 1,166 white girls in Northern California, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. Fifty-eight percent of them had been told they were too fat by the time they were 10. The girls were weighed at the start of the study and again at the end. Those who were told they were chubby were 1.66 times more likely to be obese when they were 19, and the more people who told the girls they were fat, the more that likelihood increased.

The trend still stood even after the study authors accounted for contributing factors like race, puberty and income. “Simply being labeled as too fat has a measurable effect almost a decade later. We nearly fell off our chairs when we discovered this,” study author A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science, said in a statement.

The findings, which still need to be replicated, show that not only does calling girls fat not help them lose weight, it actually may encourage them to pack on the pounds. The researchers speculate that the stress of being told they’re fat may actually spur weight-gaining behaviors like overeating. For some, though, a bit of tough love actually works. TIME reporter Charlotte Alter wrote that her mom once told her she had put on a couple pounds, and she appreciated the honesty. Different strokes.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,152 other followers