Body shaming and women I understand. Of course I do, I’m a woman.
Body shaming re: men is a foreign concept to me. While I understand what is being marketed to boys and men today as the “perfect” body includes six-pack abs, chiseled chest, and arms full of muscle, what I don’t fully grasp is the impact it is having on them.
So this week, I’ll attempt to discuss body image and how it affects men.
We do a disservice to men when we treat body image as solely an issue that affects women. Increasingly, men have been found to be dissatisfied with their bodies. And men and boys who read fitness magazines are often more dissatisfied with their bodies.
Additionally, in today’s world, men’s bodies in media are appearing more muscular (re: today’s superheroes and magazines). According to this TIME article, “A study last year found that American men are just as likely as women to feel unsatisfied with their physiques, while another study found adolescent boys who are dissatisfied with their body shape may be more likely than girls to self-criticize and feel distress.”
Another survey showed that “men worry about their appearance more than they worry about their health, their family, their relationships or professional success.”
And in my own survey on body image, 2 male respondents said that they feel “6 pack abs” and “6 packs, biceps bigger than a normal person’s head” have been marketed to them as the perfect body.
It seems that masculinity is becoming associated with how muscular you are. We forget or ignore the fact that it’s not easy to gain pounds of muscle. Not to mention the fact that men’s bodies are not “one size fits all” because men’s bodies are just as diverse as women’s bodies.
It’s important to start having these conversations with our sons (and daughters) at a young age.
As I said, I’m not a man, but I do understand body image and the effect that negative body image can have on us. I believe that it is important to discuss body image as a human issue.
Perhaps the best way to end this post comes from this quote from Tyler Kingkade’s article, “I’m A Man, And I’ve Spent My Life Ashamed of My Body”:
“Contemporary masculinity does not permit a man to admit his physique is less than ideal. But if men could be more open about their own insecurities, without fear of violating the unspoken rules of masculinity, we’d do better at accepting our flaws in our bodies.“
This week’s featured song is “Superheroes” by The Script: