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Newsflash! Men (Even Hot, Famous Ones) Can Have Body Image Issues Too

Posted Nov 15 2009 10:00pm

Check out my latest post over at WeAretheRealDeal.com here or after the jump.

seacrest It’s surprising (and sad) to see a totally fit, attractive guy like Ryan Seacrest talking about how he needs to lose weight.

Last Friday ( while home sick, recovering from H1N1 ) I got to watch Ryan on Ellen. I never get to watch her show, so it was the “silver lining” to being sick.

But I was caught off guard by her interview with her good friend Ryan.

One of the first questions she asked Ryan was about what the famous chef Gordon Ramsay had said to him on his show that made him feel like he needed to suddenly lose weight.

Apparently, Ramsay had told Ryan he could see a “roll” on his mid-section!

Um … WTF?! Who says that to someone else, on his own radio show?, no less?!

I first thought, “Ugh, what an ass!” And my second thought was “ROLL? WHERE?!” The guy is fit as a fiddle and definitely easy on the eyes.

But something I didn’t know about Ryan until recently — which explains his self-consciousness at hearing he had “a roll”– was that he’d been a chubby kid who had, like many people, battled his weight during the early years.

Naturally, then, hearing someone else criticize you (publicly!) for your weight (when you feel good about yourself!) has to be a huge ego blow.

And Ryan was clearly hurt by Ramsay’s words. He tried to laugh it off with Ellen as though it’s just part of the business (i.e., being fit) but admitted after the show with Ramsay aired, he got self-conscious and ramped up his sessions with his trainer and has been running harder and training harder … trying to “tone up.”

I love Ellen for a lot of reasons, but mostly because she accepts herself the way she is and says what other people are thinking. Ellen really has the cojones to just lay it out there. Her response was sensitive, thoughtful, and well, genius.

I can’t quote her verbatim because, well, I was admittedly a bit dazed when I watched the show … but basically her messages to her good friend Ryan were words we could ALL benefit from hearing.

  • She told him he’s fit and attractive just the way he is.
  • She reiterated that not everyone is built the same; we might envy a certain body type but it isn’t rational to expect we can have their shape, too.
  • She said she was concerned Ryan might take it “too far” (i.e., over-exercising/restricting–two things formerly-fat people are susceptible to) and wants him to just be comfortable in his own skin.
  • She voiced her concern that he still sees himself as that chubby, pimply, braces-wearing 9-yr old (i.e., body dysmorphia) even though he’s a buff 30-something year old guy with a life many would envy.

Ellen was genuinely worried for her friend; you could see it written all over her face.

And I recognized that concern; it was the same concern I saw expressed by my own boyfriend (now husband), friends and family when, at my slimmest in 2005, I still “felt fat” and wanted to lose more. I didn’t see myself as I was … and now that I’ve gained weight and am coming to terms with my “half-way body” I realize just how ridiculous I was being.

Therein lies the problem with disordered eating/disordered thinking … it’s 100 percent irrational — but you don’t see it til you’re out of that dark place (i.e., now).

Ellen didn’t use the words “disordered eating” or “disordered thinking” but she alluded to it plenty.

To see someone with all the fame, success, good looks, and good fortune as Ryan Seacrest — and to see him vulnerable as a pre-teen girl in a dressing room who realizes her body has changed and she suddenly has hips and needs to shop in the juniors section — was eye-opening.

It’s not every day you hear guys moaning about their bodies. Especially men as toned and fit as Ryan. And it made me really sad. I think what is saddest most of all is that it seems taboo for guys to talk about body image, but I know many of them feel it, too.

For example, my best (male) friend in college, Jason struggled with body dysmorphia after losing a significant amount of weight our sophomore year. As his close friends, we recognized his struggles and would try to talk to him about it, but it wasn’t easy; guys just aren’t as comfortable talking about it as women are.

Sadly, Jason passed away in 2006 at the age of 27 following a long battle with brain cancer, but I’ll always remember my friend for how he truly lived every day like it was his last, especially after we graduated and he’d really come into his own. He didn’t sweat the small stuff, and that included obsessing about his weight.

I can’t speak for my beloved friend who is so dearly missed, but I’m pretty sure in the shadow of cancer, the size of his waist was the furthest thing from his mind.

Between Ellen and Jason, we can all learn something about what is truly important: loving ourselves as we are. I hope Ryan — and all of us — can take that message and run with it.

How about you? Do you know any men that suffer from body dysmorphia?

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