Male medical students more worried about looks than females
Karachi, April 28, 2008: Female medical students are less concerned with their appearance than
males, and while females are more concerned with being fat, males are more
concerned with skinniness and head hair, revealed a study conducted at the Aga
Khan University Hospital.
The study was carried out by Ather M. Taqui1,
Mehrine Shaikh, Saqib A. Gowani, Fatima Shahid, Asmatullah Khan, Syed M. Tayyeb,
Minahil Satti, Talha Vaqar, Saman Shahid, Afreen Shamsi, Hammad A. Ganatra and
Haider A. Naqvi for the Section of Psychiatry, Department of Medicine,
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychiatric disorder
characterized by a preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect that causes
significant distress or impairment in functioning. Out of the 156 students, 57.1
percent were female. A total of 78.8 percent of the students reported
dissatisfaction with some aspect of their appearance, and 5.8 percent were
diagnosed with BDD.
As for gender differences in body areas of concern,
the top three reported in male students were head hair (34.3 percent), being fat
(32.8 percent), skin (14.9 percent) and nose (14.9 percent), whereas in females,
they were being fat (40.4 percent), skin (24.7 percent) and teeth (18 percent).
Some degree of concern over physical appearance is quite normal.
However, when these concerns with physical appearance reach an intensity where
it causes significant subjective distress to the individual and impairment in
social and occupational functioning, and when the perceived appearance flaw is
actually nonexistent or slight, it constitutes the disorder.
marked by time-consuming repetitive compulsive behaviors (mirror checking,
excessive grooming behaviours, measuring or comparing the perceived defect), and
avoidance (of social situations, mirrors, posing for photographs, bright lights,
It is important to discern whether doctors have any element of
body image disturbance, because this may have some impact on their practice and,
specifically, their perception of a patient's physical defects.
the chronic nature of BDD and the early age of onset (adolescence), it is highly
likely that medical students with body image disturbance will retain it when
they start their professional career.
It is well-recognized that, in some
communities, being physically unattractive is considered more of a social
liability for women than for men. Women's bodies are more likely to be regarded
in an evaluative manner. In the Pakistani culture, physical appearance is a
major determinant of the manner in which a female is judged in society. When
physical attractiveness affects the value attributed to an individual, the
desire to be physically attractive increases and the risk of an individual
developing body image concerns becomes more likely.
This phenomenon has
been exemplified in cross-cultural studies which show that Americans, who
consign greater value to physical attractiveness, are more likely to develop
body image concerns than Asians and Germans. "In light of this background, we
hypothesized that the prevalence of BDD would be higher in females and they
would report different areas of concern as compared to males. Given the fact
that society has high expectations from doctors in terms of grooming and
appearance, we hypothesized that the prevalence of BDD would be higher in our
medical student population than other student samples," said the
All medical students studying in the five years of the medical
college were eligible for participation, except for those who submitted
incomplete forms or reported a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia
The prevalence of BDD in the sample (5.8 percent) was higher
than in three other college student samples - German students (5.3 percent),
American students (four percent) and Turkish students (4.8
Medical students might be more conscious about their physical
appearance than students in most other fields of study, because of society's
high expectations from a doctor in terms of grooming and appearance.
Alternatively, the higher prevalence of BDD could also reflect cross-cultural
differences in the value placed on physical attractiveness and the resulting
"This might overshadow the other factor that
physical appearance is a means for evaluation of females in the Pakistani
society. It is also interesting to note that, although more females reported
body image dissatisfaction than males (88.8 percent vs. 76.1 percent), the
prevalence of BDD was lower in females," the report explained. Daily Times Monitor
"yes this is true to some extent"
Name: S.qasim Ali
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan
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