Have you ever heard of the stereotype that wrinkles, body weight, and increasing age, affect women more than men? Or should we say that women are more expressive about the impact they have after such conversations than men? Body talks are very casual and normalized, especially in brown households. We tend to even use this topic as a way to initiate the conversation. “Oh, have you lost some weight?”, “I guess you should lose some weight” and whatnot. Body shaming creeps up on us in our everyday conversations without notice.
When one searches for terms like “body positivity” or “body image” online, the majority of content is focused on women, with very little attention given to men. Male body shaming is frequently avoided in discussions. Men and women have more or less comparable attitudes toward their bodies, despite the fact that body shame is typically discussed in the context of women.
Despite receiving less attention, research shows that men can experience body image issues just like women. The persistent differences between the sexes include the fact that men are often less expressive and request assistance less frequently than women. Men frequently struggle to recognize or even address their concerns since they receive less social validation from their peers.
Men are frequently seen worrying about not having the “perfect body,” which might mean being either too skinny or too fat. Shaming, however, goes far deeper and is diverse and complex. It is not just limited to the size of the muscle. Male body image is affected by things including age, height, genital size, skin tone, and hair.
Men are frequently taught to believe that in order to be accepted and loved by others, they must change. The words “too fat,” “too skinny,” “too hairy,” “too smooth,” “too short,” “too tall,” “man boobs,” “dad bod,” “baby carrot,” and “small pecker” drag them down. Men are expected to “be strong” and not complain about their troubles, which makes them unwilling to speak up. Men who talk about their mental health are told to “get a pair of balls” instead of being seen as “man enough” or “tough enough.”
Men who struggle with unrealistic physique ideals can develop eating problems, muscle dysmorphia, and unhappy lifestyles. As a result, boys and men experience insecurity, loss of self-esteem and confidence, social anxiety, and sadness. The mind can become focused, fixated, and distressed as a result of dissatisfaction. Anorexia and bulimia, which result in nutrition restriction, excessive exercise, and purging, may develop. Even excessive steroid and supplement use can lead to death. People frequently fall for the promises made by cosmetic procedures and goods.
How body shaming affects men
The desire for a bigger, more muscular upper body is the first thing that comes to mind when most guys think about body shaming. Building upper body strength or a bigger butt is perfectly acceptable for feeling good about one’s body. However, if the objective is to achieve an unrealistic body image, it can be problematic.
Guys’ body shaming goes beyond just wanting more muscular bodies. Here is a list of typical physical flaws in men that they frequently feel ashamed of:
Not Enough height
Not enough muscle
Insufficiently defined muscles
Less/more body hair
Wrinkles and the effects of aging on the skin
The list continues. The window for overcoming body shame is really small, and that window is even getting smaller by the day.
According to some studies, men who have experienced body shaming are more likely to engage in violence. When compared to their less body-shamed counterparts, men who experience high levels of body shame feel that their social standing is jeopardised. Men who experience body shame also report having low feelings of self-worth.
What exactly does that mean? Body shaming men, unlike body shaming women, increases the risk of violence. This is an important distinction in how guys treat their bodies.
While not every body-shamed male will engage in violent behavior, many do. Perhaps even unconsciously. This is why it is critical to seek help if you are being body shamed. Of course, a culture that encourages men to use violence as a defense mechanism against body shaming is also unacceptable.
Men who believe they need to bulk up their muscles may also take performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). PEDs can have negative effects on health. On the other end of the scale, those who believe they must lose weight may start to experience eating disorders.
Here are some examples which will prove the point better. I’m sure most of you will relate to this.
Guys are guardians.
You’ll be a greater protector if you have larger muscles.
This notion is outdated in today’s society and has roots in toxic masculinity.
Guys with large muscles attract attention.
Guys will be more attractive when they have large muscles, particularly large arms.
At least one study shows that many women find big muscles to be unattractive, instead some guys might find them more attractive.
It is a sign of weakness to be ashamed of one’s physique.
Obsessive exercise habits; keeping your struggles to yourself
There is nothing to be ashamed about because no body is flawless.
It’s not difficult to talk about your body or your sentiments.
keeping emotions to oneself out of concern about appearing too feminine.
Since everyone experiences these things, it is healthy to discuss them with others.
There is no such thing as a flawless or ideal body, therefore you shouldn’t feel bad about the one you have. Instead of focusing on idealized body pictures, concentrate on developing healthy attitudes and behavior, and have the basic physical health and fitness required to lead the life you desire.
Books on Body Image in Men