It’s not you, it’s your hormones.

Olivia Rabbitt

In this week’s readings, an interesting historical perspective was applied to the upward trend in the diagnosis of PMS and the use of steroids in men. While men use chemical and hormonal means to achieve a hyper-masculine body, women have one of their most feminine experiences classified as a disease – treatable by hormones like progesterone – all in response to the exponential increase in female independence and feminism since the 1960’s.

As a woman I am familiar with the pervasiveness of body dismorphia and eating disorders now considered common to women thanks to the ride of media portrayal of ultra-skinny women as the ideal. Social media sites even romanticize eating disorders and create and toxic online communities to share ideologies. The topic of girls with body image issues and poor self-esteem can be found in movies, tv shows, and magazines. However men are increasingly becoming concerned with their physical appearance and are left little resources for help. The Pope article represents a dramatic shift in the way our culture recognizes body image issues, and it shows a revolutionary breach of one of our cultural taboos. While women are expected to fret (if disordered behavior can be considered fretting) over their appearance in order to appeal to men, men are expected to simply be masculine. They are not expected to worry about their weight or muscle tone to any great degree. A man who works out consistently is a good thing – a sign of healthy masculinity, but a man who takes steroids or diets in addition is a huge taboo. An interesting term employed by the article “Rise of the Adonis Complex” was “politely ‘roided” a term which allows the viewer and model plausible deniability in the question of whether or not they use steroids.

The other section which focused on hints if someone (some man) you know is secretly taking steroids was very sad. Not only is our culture perpetuating unhealthy/ unachievable ideals, but it is also refusing to acknowledge the existence of a problem and provide help for men suffering from body dismorphia. This NPR article talks about the lack of treatment facilities for men with eating disorders (trigger warning).

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/07/229164585/for-boys-with-eating-disorders-finding-treatment-can-be-hard

The Chrisler article made a very interesting case against a condition most women are taught is natural and normal. The at least partially socially constructed aspect of PMS has created false ideas about how to handle premenstrual changes and sometimes creates a dangerous environment. I know a woman who suffered from “PMS” that was “occasionally debilitating”. She went to her doctor and was eventually put on birth control to handle her “out of control” PMS. While this did help alleviate some of her symptoms, it also did nothing to help with the cyst that had gone unnoticed and untreated on her ovary for the past few years. Turns out not every woman with cramps is just suffering from stereotypical PMS that can be solved by popping a few Midol and calling it a day. This article reinforces the idea that so much of our physiology and psychology are socially constructed by showing that while cyclic changes are reported across cultures, the symptoms are culturally skewed and inherently negative in industrialized nations where we disproportionately value control.

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3 thoughts on “It’s not you, it’s your hormones.

  1. Olivia,

    I agree that this article was very sad. In our culture it is taboo for men to talk about their feelings or to care about their appearance. I know that plenty of research has been done that shows that mental health is much more present in the male population than it appears and that this is often the result of them “bottling their emotions.” In this article we see that men are also experiencing a great deal of anxiety about their appearance. So, are under pressure to control their appearance, similar to women, but unlike women they aren’t “allowed” to talk about it. It sad to think about the combined effect of these two things that are produced by societal norms of masculinity.

  2. Olivia,

    I agree with what you (and Emma) said; this article was proof of just another way that society has hurt men by forcing them to keep their emotions in. Women talking about eating disorders is now okay (as it should be) but people never even think about how men can suffer from the same illnesses. Eating disorders and body dissatisfaction are considered women’s issues which is then damaging to any men who may have them. Men won’t want to admit to feeling unsatisfied with their bodies because they are fear they will then be labeled as feminine. I think articles like Pope’s are so important in pointing out to the public that women are not the only ones struggling in our body image obsessed society.

  3. Luis Ramos:

    I also find it somewhat interesting and appalling to hear how others raise the question of men and eating disorders. Why is it that eating disorders are often associated with women? Learning that men are becoming more cognizant and worried about their body image, is it possible to soon see more eating disorders within the male population? I’m not afraid to admit, I usually have my days where I wake up, look myself in the mirror and feel extremely dissatisfied with my body, but when I tend to mention it to my friends or others, they bring up the fact that I sound like a girl. Is it not okay for me to complain about how I look? Or even when I was growing up, my father always urged me to join a sport, go running, join a gym, etc so that I could become more masculine. That never happened. He hated that I was too focused on my academics rather than playing sports, hanging out with friends, or meeting new people (girls in particular). I feel like that’s one of the main reasons why there’s a huge disconnection between my father and I. Like every father, he hoped I would be the athletic kind and very masculine. Now, he puts all that pressure upon my younger brother, whom is soon joining his high school’s football and wrestling team (keep in mind that they’re two of the most aggressive sports ever).

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