I recently heard someone talking about bigorexia. Being unfamiliar with the term I did a little research. It turns out that bigorexia is the colloquial name for muscle dysmorphia. As you may have guessed, this is a condition where someone becomes obsessed with their muscle mass. People who are bigorexic are obsessive about their bodies and tend to see themselves as skinny or weak even though they are actually quite strong and muscular.
Essentially, muscle dysmorphia is the opposite of anorexia nervosa (a condition where people eat very little food for fear of gaining weight) the difference is that bigorexia is more likely to affect men than women.
Although we have been conditioned to think that body image issues are a problem only women face, (especially rail thin high school girls who think they’re obese,) most men struggle with similar issues. The truth is that just about everyone struggles with their body image from time to time. Everyone has some part of their body that they don’t like or are ashamed of—that’s just the way life is.
As a society we have become obsessed with comparing ourselves to others and setting unrealistic standards for ourselves. It is important for us to understand that reality is not what we see on T.V. or in magazines. The average person cannot live up to the media’s artificial standards.
Yet there is a deeper issue. We often focus on things that do not have the ability to make us happy. True happiness cannot come from attaining a perfect body. Just as a millionaire realizes he needs another million, people can always find something new to gripe about with their body. True happiness doesn’t come from material things; it comes from being content with yourself and resting in that.
While it is important to take care of our bodies and to look and feel good, it should not consume our lives. Focusing too much on yourself (or on your body) can easily hurt your relationships with other people. In contrast, putting your focus on others will not only improve your relationships with them, but it will also help take your mind off of your problems.
Life is multidimensional, there are so many things for us to learn and do. There is more to life than big muscles or petite figures. Just as there is more to life than money or possessions—these things won’t last forever. The Bible says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19)
Think about it this way: At the end of your life, the time you spent building your relationship with God, spending time with loved ones, and helping those in need will count for far more than the great body you once had.
Those who still feel the emotional hurt of not ‘measuring up’ physically need to recognize that they are beautiful in the eyes of God and loved by the people close to them. Understanding this can be the greatest help a person can get.
Note: there are many psychological disorders (such as anorexia or muscle dysmorphia) that can be very severe and require professional help. Thankfully, many different treatments have been developed to address the specific issues an individual may have. If you have questions, please contact your healthcare provider.