The “Adonis Complex” is a new phrase being used to describe “a variety of body image concerns which have been plaguing boys and men especially through the last decade,” according to

The term comes from Greek mythology. Adonis was half man and half god and the prime example of masculinity, according to
Shakespeare even wrote a poem entitled “Venus and Adonis.”

In the past 10 years, the Adonis Complex has been growing in boys and men “who have become fixated on achieving a perfect, Adonis-like body,” reported.

A new book, The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crises of Male Body Obsession, describes men with this complex as “obsessed with imagined physical shortcomings, which they often internalize because they’re embarrassed to reveal their discomfort.”

Women have long battled body images in the media, and now more than ever men are in a fight of their own.

Body dysmorphic disorder, the scientific term for the Adonis Complex, is a “psychological illness in which people are obsessed with that they think is a flaw in their appearance, and this obsession becomes so severe as to interfere with daily life,” according to a review of the book on the BlueCross BlueShield Web site.

Men and boys with the disorder obsessively overdiet and overexercise.
The authors of The Adonis Complex argue that the “influx of women into previously ‘male’ positions within the workplace within in the last 30 years has led to a ‘threatened masculinity’ syndrome.”

With women holding top positions in business, law enforcement, education, medicine and many other fields, some men see achieving “manliness” through their bodies as their only option, according to the book.

Add to that a “burgeoning trend of steroid use, an increase in advertising images of barely dressed male models with washboard abs, and a boom in men’s fitness magazines during the same time frame” and men are faced daily with an unrealistic and unattainable male body ideal, read the review. offers some warning signs to look for in young men and boys:

·  Excessive exercise that isn’t required for athletic training at school or infringes on other important activities
· Engaging in sports for the sole purpose of improving appearance rather than enjoying the game
· Preoccupation with a model appearance
· Using large amounts of dietary supplements like Creatine or protein powder, or the use of steroids such as ephedrine or androstenedione
· Rapid fluctuations in weight
· Dangerous weight-loss techniques like fasting, extreme diets, laxatives and diuretics
·  Allowing appearance concerns to limit social activities or negatively affect school or job performance
· Avoidance of having all or part of his body seen by others (for example, in the locker room at school)

Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.

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