Hate your love handles?

Feel ashamed to pull off the shirt at the pool because you look more like John Goodman than Brad Pitt? You're in good company.

It was generally assumed that women were the ones who felt gloomy because Hollywood told them they had to have the dimensions of Elle McPherson. Not so. Blokes are just as likely to be sent into the doldrums by their love handles, says this week’s British Medical Journal.

The BMJ says as much as one percent of the population may suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, a severe form of body image dissatisfaction. The report suggests that the condition is also being under-diagnosed because embarrassment often makes boys and men reluctant to seek help.

The condition goes further than just making you wear comfort-fit chinos and untucked shirts, though. Sufferers may be driven to attempt suicide or become reclusive. The skin is a major source of concern, because of problems such as acne, acne scarring or hair loss.

The illusion of a puny torso
The size or shape of the nose and genitals is also a recurrent source of anxiety. The trend for men to become more muscular has also resulted in some problems. It’s even led to a condition called bigorexia, the opposite of anorexia. Men see themselves as scrawny and puny, when in fact they’re ever more muscle-bound.

Signs of bigorexia include a fixation with some apparently minor body defect, excessive grooming and an obsession with working out that may lead to the use of steroids. They may also resort to the knife: more than 100 000 American men had liposuction last year, and nearly 30 000 had their breasts reduced. BY 1997, men in the US were spending about R640 million on hair transplants, and another R320 million on hairpieces. (William Smook)

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