Perfectionism, Societal Messages, Gender and Race as Correlates of Male Body Image
Many men experience psychological distress as they try to obtain the ideal body as constructed by society (Pope, Phillips, and Olivardia, 2000). The number of articles focusing on men and muscularity has greatly increased since the year 2000 (Thompson & Cafri, 2007). Research indicates that body dissatisfaction is increasing in males and even young boys are experiencing body image dissatisfaction (Pope et al., 2000). Men with body image concerns are at risk for low self esteem, eating disorders, use of steroids, anxiety and depression (McCreary & Sasse, 2000; Cafri, Strauss, & Thompson, 2002; Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2004).
Examining the predictors of body image distress is critical. Perfectionism and gender role socialization have been related to a drive for muscularity in men (Davis, Karvinen & McCreary, 2005; McCreary, Saucier, & Courtenary, 2005). In addition, viewing images of muscular men and reading fitness magazines have been linked to body dissatisfaction in men (Lorensen, Grieve, & Thompson, 2004; Morry & Staska, 2001). While the relationships between perfectionism, internalization of ideal standards transmitted by the media, and gender role conflict have been examined with body image dissatisfaction in men, no studies have linked these variables together in a single model. Investigating how these variables interact may lead to a greater understanding of the distress that men experience due to the socialization process of masculinity. The lack of racial diversity has been a limit of several research studies. The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between: 1) perfectionism and male body image dissatisfaction,
and 2) internalization of societal messages and male body image, and to determine what role gender role conflict plays, if any in the hypothesized correlation.
Data was collected from an ethnically diverse sample of 331 college men from a university in the southwestern United States. Hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses were conducted. Results indicated that identifying as an Asian American, socially prescribed perfectionism, and internalization of societal messages were significant positive predictors of muscle dissatisfaction. Higher levels of socially prescribed perfectionism and internalization of societal messages were related to higher levels of dissatisfaction with the amount of one’s body fat. None of the variables examined served as a predictor for height dissatisfaction. Gender role conflict did not serve as a moderator in the relationship between the variables and male body image dissatisfaction.