by Andrea Watson | December 24, 2020
Women are under constant pressure to fit a certain body type; to be the best possible specimen of woman, one who is desirable for mating. It’s true. It’s evolutionary psychology. This pressure usually is presented through the media or even through other women going through the same struggle. But did you know that men deal with body image issues just as much as women do? Or that eating disorders plague men as well as women? This is true as well. The only thing is, men’s issues aren’t discussed or even presented to the world to the degree that women’s issues are. Why is that? Likely because men are taught to be stoic and silent, and that any problems they have must be kept secret.
If this makes you mad as it does me, then you are in the right place. Men are bound by certain conditions and social norms that are far more restrictive than women may think. They are expected by other men to have a certain level of stability and authority . They are expected to be strong and confident. They are desirable to women only if they fit into this mold (supposedly). Sure there was a time a while back when the “sensitive male” was desirable, but that seems to be a trend that has died out as we move on through time.
The ideal man is portrayed by the media to be lean and muscular, tall and handsome, and capable of defending his woman in all things, and accomplishing anything he wishes to accomplish. Well, I have a secret for you. This is bullshit. A man’s value is in no way tied to his body type or what he looks like. Men are equal, just as women are. Each one is valuable and valid just the same as women. It’s true that men have different traits than women, but we must remember that they have the same emotions . To overlook this is another injustice.
One problem that arises from poor body image in men is eating disorders. This is especially true in men that engage in sports. Since everything is a competition, those men who do not see themselves as ideal may fall prey to things like working out too much, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Huh. Just like women. Interesting, right? But these things go largely untreated in men because of the expectations of society and the pressures men are under at all times.
These are few reasons why self-care for men is so important. But when I try to explain self-care to the men in my life, they get confused and cannot understand what I mean. Maybe I’m just not explaining it right. Self-care is the proactive engagement in activities that are good for you and that protect your mental health and wellness. For men this can look like engaging in favorite hobbies in your down time, making time for more male bonding with friends, meditation, napping, playing video or sports games, or doing anything else that they truly enjoy doing. I have a friend who is passionate about woodworking. Whenever he comes over to my house, we end up watching how-to videos on cabinet making and stuff on youtube. Sure, this is boring for me, but he is my friend and I care about what his passions. So I watch. This is him engaging in self-care, and he doesn’t even realize it.
Depression, eating disorders, and poor body image are reality for men. Just because we don’t see it or hear about it doesn’t mean it’s not there. I say we need to champion our men. Lift them up. Let them know they are valued no matter what their body type or looks are. Because this is true. I want my son to grow up with a healthy sense of value and a good body image. I will lift him up in any way I can, same as my male friends and other family members. Men are very secretly sensitive and they deserve a boost. Just because they don’t talk about it like women do doesn’t mean they don’t truly appreciate it. Til next time,
2 thoughts on “Men and Body Image”
Wow! Never thought that someone will put this issue out there so succinctly. I fully agree with you, as I personally, have lived my entire life being body shamed (I am underweight) and being expected to live up to a standard I could never hope to achieve, one I didn’t want to be either.
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Thank you for the feedback! I think men are often under too much pressure to be “perfect” or “ideal”, especially as far as body type goes. It is unfair and unrealistic. I am glad you can relate to this post, thank you fo reading!
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