Inside men's muscle culture
Psychology student Lewis Jones has started digging into the murky world of young men, gyms and feelings of inadequacy.
It's a world where men's muscles are never big enough, where Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt has them reaching for the nearest dumbbell, and of the potentially dangerous issue of body dissatisfaction in young Kiwi men.
An extreme example is called muscle dysmorphia.
"Even though they're very muscly they don't see themselves that way and become quite distressed and do things like overtrain, or become depressed or take steroids," the University of Waikato student said.
With the help of a $15,000 Rose Hellaby scholarship, Mr Lewis has embarked on a two-year masters' thesis delving into body dissatisfaction in young Kiwi men who weight train, while he grapples with a post-graduate clinical psychology diploma.
The Ngati Maniapoto man lifts weights himself, and about a year ago he noticed a surge in the number of young blokes stepping into the gym.
"I know there are lots of positive reasons for weight training, but I also thought it would be interesting to look at some negative consequences of being influenced by muscular figures and wanting to maintain a muscular physique."
Mr Lewis wanted to gain strength for sport but also to look good.
The literature suggests media images and, more so, the internet are to blame.
Social forums have sprouted where men post images of themselves online as they train and become more muscular.
Watching the Olympics could have a similar effect, he said.
Most of the studies in the area have been on women. Something has changed in our society, he said, and men are falling into the same traps.
He's on the hunt for 15 men aged 18 to 30 to take part in his work.
"I'm wanting participants who have already experienced body dissatisfaction so they can explain their experiences of this," he said.
"Also their perceptions around the types of things that influence this such as media, comparison to other people in the gym lifting weights, the olympics or rugby culture."
Email email@example.com to take part.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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