Body image harm­ing men

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - Matt Slaugh­ter

Vaughan McGill wanted the big mus­cu­lar body so badly he was harm­ing him­self. ‘‘No mat­ter how big I got, there were still mo­ments when I looked in the mir­ror and felt tiny,’’ McGill said. He was suf­fer­ing from body dys­mor­phic dis­or­der – a dis­abling pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with per­ceived de­fects or flaws in ap­pear­ance. It can af­fect men and women. In pur­suit of the ideal body, McGill would go to the gym six days a week – dead­lift­ing 240kg, squat­ting 180kg and leg­press­ing 360kg – and eat ob­ses­sively. He never took steroids, de­spite other gym­go­ers sug­gest­ing he try. ‘‘There was a pe­riod there where it would have been es­sen­tially an eat­ing dis­or­der. I was eat­ing eight eggs every morn­ing, adding canola oil to my pro­tein shakes to add ex­tra calo­ries, and I just be­came ob­sessed with how much food I was eat­ing to gain weight,’’ the 22-year-old said. McGill, who is 181cm tall, got to 87kg at the height of his mus­cle fix­a­tion. He started get­ting mi­graines to the point where he was tested for a brain bleed. It’s been a year since he re­alised some­thing had to change. Then an elec­tri­cian, now a uni stu­dent, he found he couldn’t move his legs when work­ing in a roof space. McGill ad­mit­ted he was still on the re­cov­ery path. He still goes to the gym most days, but has re­placed the pro­tein shakes with berry smooth­ies and changed his ex­er­cise rou­tine. He now weighs 78kg. Uni­ver­sity of Otago se­nior lec­turer and clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Jenny Jor­dan said males were in­creas­ingly sub­ject to ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion of their bod­ies. ‘‘Most treat­ments have been fe­male-cen­tric un­til re­cently so we need to de­velop and mod­ify treat­ments for males to en­hance the chances of them com­ing for­ward for treat­ment.’’

DAVID WALKER / STUFF

Vaughan McGill is a re­formed gym ob­ses­sive, work­ing out reg­u­larly to bulk up, un­til he re­alised it was hav­ing neg­a­tive ef­fects on his health.

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