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Are girls the only ones who worry about their body image?

No. Although there’s a lot more information for girls about body image, boys also experience similar pressures and worries about their bodies. The messages given to girls and boys (based on stereotypes about what males and females “should” look like) are different, too.

Girls get the message that they should be super thin. Guys get the message that they should be big with bulging muscles. That often leads guys to start lifting weights at a young age. When you start lifting weights before age 14 or 15 (as a general rule), the heavy exercise can damage muscles, tendons and bones that are still growing. That can lead to permanent damage.

Guys sometimes even take steroids, drugs that can make them larger and stronger. But these drugs are harmful and illegal. Even steroid-type supplements sold in health food stores can cause health problems.

Guys also worry about their hair, skin, penis size and the way they look in general, but they may feel discouraged from talking about their feelings.

Those who feel insecure about their bodies should talk to a parent or other trusted adult, like a teacher, relative, doctor or clergy person, for example. They can connect you with counselors or support groups that can help.

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