We’ve all heard it at one point or another, someone exasperatedly exclaiming: “Ugh, guys are so LUCKY. They don’t have to worry about their weight or their skin or, like, ANYTHING.” Maybe even WE are the one who have spoken those words into the universe at one point or another. And if we did, we were wrong.
Yes, when it comes to appearances, women are scrutinized under the most hardcore of microscopes. But that said, we need to open our eyes and see the reality that men face body image pressures too. Not quite in the same way, but the pressure is definitely there.
Buzzfeed recently produced a short video called “Things Men Are Tired of Hearing About Their Bodies.” In it, men explain the pressure they are put under to be physically perfect and the pain they feel when they fall short.
A wide range of men are featured explaining that they have been given a hard time for being too short, too skinny, too fat, for not being able to grow facial hair, for not having a six pack.
Then they twist the narrative and talk back to the haters that have chipped away at their self esteem with retorts like, “This is just what I’ve been dealt with, this is what I have.”
“This is just the way my physique is, I can’t do anything to change it.” “If we all looked the same, I think that would be really boring.” “My body is a gift.” “My body is cool.” “My body is mine.”
I’m not here to say that men endure the same degree of physical scrutiny as we women do. We all know that’s not true. But I do think sometimes we forget that men feel body pressure and have body insecurities too. Think about the movie men you salivate over, now think about the men you know IRL. The standards are undeniably tough.
There have been many campaigns to bring awareness to the issue of men and body image. Last year, a Change.org petition pled with the editor of Men’s Health UK to include more diverse types of male bodies in his magazine. Outside of the magazine world (which features almost exclusively the chiseled male) images from superheroes, to action figures, to Halloween costumes all prioritize thin, muscular, youthful builds. Certainly characteristics that are not natural for everyone. I mean, just take a look at the before-and-after Calvin Klein images of Justin Bieber to see just the way we like to photoshop our men into enhanced “perfection.” While we’ve become more culturally attuned to the way body image pressure harms girls, it’s still floating under the radar with regards to the way it hits boys.
To put some numbers behind it, in a study conducted by the Today Show last year, 63% of men polled said they always feel like they could lose more weight and a whopping 53% said they don’t like having their picture taken. Those are some heavy stats to consider.
So let’s make sure we consider what our brothers, our boyfriends, our male pals are going through. When it comes to body image issues, all humans deal with them. And what’s going to make us feel better? A little bit of empathy.