Women have been objectified for years now. But we can see a gradual turning of the page. The situation is improving as women try to support each other and demolish the beauty standards haunting them for years. With various body positivity and anti-racial campaigns, we can surely see a difference. Women are embracing each other irrespective of colour, height, weight and flaws. But maybe we are so busy in the process that we ignore the fact that even men are going through the same issue. A 6-feet-tall guy with a lean body. Should be fair but not too much. As a society, we expect men to fall just like that in a certain way. It puts a lot of pressure on them too, and makes them feel insecure about themselves.
Even men are burdened with unrealistic male beauty standards too. But even after having the same problem as women do, the outrage is almost equal to zero. We can surely see the change. You can find plus size models with any skin tone being appreciated in their profession now-a-days. But the problem is that this change has only been restricted to women. It is very difficult to find a plus size male model doing a ramp walk. That’s just a small example of how all these unrealistic male beauty standards can pinch their insecurities without even being noticed. Let us address this problem in this article and let us know your afterthought on it!
“That’s how a man should be”- Beauty standards
Media, especially movies, are setting an ideal male image. Why do all the hero figures are tall and have lean bodies with abs? Media is a trend setter and often under the umbrella of idealization, it makes it toxic for men out there. Here’s how.
Height as part of beauty standards
You must have seen a lot of girls admiring a 6- feet- tall guy. We can see many couple memes on social media terming “tall guy- short girl” bond to be cute and fantasize around this idea. This unrealistic expectation links beauty to height for men. Often men with short height are teased. Even tall men are considered manly and stronger than men with short height. Whereas the reality is far away from this.
Insecurity linked with it
Often it is seen as weird when the girl is taller than the guy in a relationship. Following this unreasonable trend, women like to find a man a bit taller than themselves. This increases insecurity and pulls down self-esteem in men with shorter height. Men with shorter height are teased, patted on their heads and bullied.
Having abs as one of the given beauty standards
Keeping a check on your physical health and keeping your body in shape is not a bad thing. But this obsession with abs, sugarcoated in the name of fitness, contributes to setting unrealistic male beauty standards. Fitness does not necessarily mean having a greek god body with abs. The cinema, especially Bollywood, encouraged the trend of abs so much that now it is counted as a basic body element for men. Though, the reality is that most of the men do not have abs and they are still healthy and fit.
Insecurity linked with it
Usually, the majority of body image issues start during the onset of teenage. Every person of your age group is growing differently and you tend to compare yourself with them. Many young men get conscious about how their body looks. Comparing themselves with the teen guy on Netflix web series gives them a push towards unrealistic body standards. But most of the time, those actors are twice their character’s age. That’s how every young boy wants to hit the gym while growing up. Not because of the fitness it brings, but to compensate for their body image issues.
Beard but no excessive body hair.
Men are expected to have a well-groomed beard but on the other hand excessive body hair is not appreciated.
Body hair is very natural. We all have it. But the insecurities that may come along with it can disturb one’s mental peace and cause serious stress. A lot of men even feel embarrassed about their body hair. Some don’t know if their partner will be okay with it or not.
Insecurity that comes with it
Many men are unsure about how to handle their chest hair. Nowadays, unrealistic films show “heroes” with no chest hair.
Hair loss can negatively affect men’s self-esteem. This is because hair loss is frequently associated with aging, which makes males feel extremely self-conscious. Insecurities manifest in many ways and for various causes. Many young boys might worry about their beards growing quickly. They could feel uneasy around the clean shaven boys. Whereas some teenagers are conscious about not having enough beard hair. On the flip side, no hair can also make a man feel feminine rather than masculine. So it is quite a psychological dilemma for men. as you can see.
Another unnoticed body image issue is men’s penis size. We all have heard “the bigger, the better”. But the fact is far away from this myth. According to these pre-existing notions, women like it bigger is not even backed up by any sort of survey or research. But the reality is that men think about it more than women do. They feel vulnerable and conscious around their partners initially. Prevailing myths tend to link the size of the penis with masculinity and performance in bed.
Insecurity that comes with it
One in every five men are conscious about their penis because they think it is associated with pleasure in bed. They wonder if they could satisfy their partner or not. This thought hurts their ideal masculinity image the most. Though reality is that your performance in bed has nothing to do with your penis size.
What these beauty standards do to a man
Low self-esteem – The continuous doubt on self can increase low self-esteem issues. Men may feel under-confident in public, especially around the people they like. They keep on wondering if they look good enough.
Crosses lines to meet the standards – Some men are fit but hit the gym for an unreasonable and unhealthy amount of time and overexert themselves. They even take various artificial protein supplements, alter their schedule. Some avoid going to the gatherings they love due to self consciousness. Some go for hair transplants to reduce baldness. Whereas, some go through laser treatment to get rid of their body hair growth.
Self-harm – Body image issues can push a person towards depression. A small comparison can make them think that they are not good enough. This turns into a negative block and results in men harming themselves due to bullying and self-doubt.
As we are breaking down the stereotypes about female beauty standards, we are forgetting that this issue is not gender specific. Sometimes, women themselves set unrealistic beauty expectations for men. But how is that justified?.
It’s high time that we start embracing people for who they really are and not by the unrealistic beauty standards we set for them. Male bodies are beautiful naturally and they are not to be put through the harrowing pressure of meeting societal beauty standards. They were never asked about what they feel and how much burden these unrealistic beauty standards carry. Let’s help them by reducing this burden from their heads and just letting them embrace who they really are and finding comfort in that.