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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Masculinity and femininity in the divergence of male body image concerns

Stuart B Murray1*, Elizabeth Rieger2, Lisa Karlov3 and Stephen W Touyz3

Author Affiliations

1 The Redleaf Practice, 5 Redleaf Ave, Wahroonga, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

2 Research School of Psychology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia

3 School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia

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Journal of Eating Disorders 2013, 1:11  doi:10.1186/2050-2974-1-11

Published: 28 March 2013



Given recent assertions suggesting that gender role endorsement may be relevant in the divergence of male body image concerns, this study examined the self-reported gender role endorsement in opposing dimensional extremes of male body image disorders, namely, muscle dysmorphia and anorexia nervosa. This study further examined the relationship between gender role endorsement and eating disordered and muscle dysmorphia disorder pathology.


Participants were 21 male muscle dysmorphia patients, 24 male anorexia nervosa patients, and 30 male gym-using controls from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All participants completed multidimensional measures of masculinity and femininity, and measures of eating disorder and muscle dysmorphia symptomatology.


Patients with muscle dysmorphia reported significantly elevated adherence to masculine (but not feminine) norms relative to control gym-using men and men with anorexia nervosa, whereas patients with anorexia nervosa exhibited elevated feminine (but not masculine) gender role endorsement relative to control gym-using men and men with muscle dysmorphia.


Masculine and feminine gender role endorsement appear to be associated with the divergence of body image concerns towards muscularity and thinness-oriented ideals respectively.

Male eating disorders; Gender role endorsement; Muscle dysmorphia; Anorexia nervosa