Our thanks to Brian Cuban, television and radio personality, for participating in this interview.
What are the unique struggles that males face with body image?
In your own recovery journey, what made it difficult to maintain a positive body image?
How can an individual stay positively focused on their recovery when having poor body image issues?
What hope could you share with a person who has chronically struggled with body image?
From your own experience, what factors help males overcome poor body image, especially in light of the pressures they face in our society/culture today?
Males face a unique struggle because society has evolved to tell us that to have body image issues is a sign of weakness. We therefore keep it to ourselves and are much less likely to seek treatment than females. I have had male tell me they are afraid their wives will leave them, they will lose their jobs, and that their sexuality will be questioned if they reveal their eating disorder.
For many of the same reasons other males in my situation do. My body image revolved around wanting acceptance and projecting what I thought people were thinking when they looked at me. Much of it stemmed from childhood bullying over my weight and fat shaming at home.
I became my negative body image thoughts. Of course rationally the mind knows that people are worried about their own issues whether it be body, work, relationships etc. I had to retrain my mind through lots of therapy to not project those crazy thoughts.
Everyone is different so I don’t like to generalize but for me, the key has been to take each day, one at a time and when those negative body image thoughts or projected thoughts arise when I am out in public, stop, reset, take a deep breath and focus on the positive affirmation techniques I have learned.
This of course does not prevent the thoughts but it prevents them from taking me down a road I’ve already been down and dismiss them more quickly.
I get emails every week from struggling men and woman. I tell them all that no matter what sex, what age(I did not -start recovery until my mid 40’s), to drop that brick wall of shame they have built to protect themselves for just one split second and trust someone. Reach out to someone who loves you. Let that wall fall. Realize in that second that no one shamed them and there is love and support.
Enjoy that moment. Look around and smell the sweet smell of recovery. You have taken the first small step, work the problem on that step. Then take another. That is recovery. It’s a wonderful thing.
Knowing that they are not alone. Media is not going to change any time soon. Pressures will always be there. Focus on what we can control. Reaching out for help and realizing that there are many in the same situation, who want to help and need your support.