Let’s start by being brutally honest; have you ever seen a group of men sit together and talk about their body insecurities? I highly doubt it.
The media’s ideal body image judging by adverts in newspapers and online is any man over 6’2 with a 6-pack. I don’t let images as such bother me because I’m aware they don’t represent the majority of men in society. My issue is the contradiction of the media forcing men to speak up about their mental health but happily accept cheques from companies to promote unrealistic expectations of men on their platform.
I’ve always been conscious of my looks ever since I suffered acne as a teenager. I experienced a traumatizing few years at high school as I was repeatedly mocked for my severe outbreak of spots. As much as I was teased, I didn’t let insults break me because going through those tough years would lead me to being the strong person I am today.
I don’t need any factual evidence to back up my next point. I know what we experience in school can affect most of us going into adulthood. You never forget the abuse and each time you look into any mirror is a sorrow reminder. You begin to compare your flaws to someone’s beauty.
I joined the gym during my college years and actively started natural bodybuilding. My impressions from people who didn’t know me might have judged me as a cocky looking athlete, but my personality didn’t change. I was still the shy kid behind my new muscle and treated everyone the same.
What I noticed during my first couple of years of training was the admiration and praise from others. I would get questions from men asking how I got so big and other curiosities. They would start comparing their failures to the success of my body and put me on a pedestal when in reality I wasn’t any better of a man than the one standing next to me.
The Root of Men’s Body Image Issues
Social media has forced men’s perceptions of body image to such extremes that we have lost common identity. For example; how many times on Instagram do we see topless male wannabe celebrities soaked in baby oil promoting cheap fake tan or some hideous clothing brand with fabric so tight the veins on their biceps are close to bursting? It’s constantly in our face and damages the confidence in others.
I know these types of products target a specific audience (mainly lad culture) and I respect any model just trying to make a living. My issue is the misrepresentation of how men’s body images is portrayed in the media and the growing rise of mental health disorders. You can’t go through a week without reading the latest victim to overdose on steroids or some other dodgy supplement they bought online after seeing it endorsed by men whom they inspire to be for all the wrong reasons.
The real question is where do we go from here and how we do force changes in society to ensure men can feel happy under any layer of skin?
Education is crucial to any form of progression. We need more support networks to encourage men to speak about their insecurities, and it starts with the curriculum system. I also would like to see a more realistic representation of men when it comes to social media influencers because there’s no real balance. It’s the same issue with both genders – stick thin women or beach sculpted men. The average body gets pushed aside and alienates the majority of us.
I know a few readers will misconstrue my words as blaming men with healthier bodies as the culprits even though it was not my underlying message. It’s the comparison to such a small minority which is the problem. The system rewards beauty over the greater good. It would rather smell scent of profits than help men who are struggling in society. An overweight man who suffers from anxiety is equally as important in this world as the one who lives in the gym for most of his life.
We should embrace men to be happy in whatever makes us comfortable because we’re all built in different shapes and sizes. Don’t beat yourself up over the reflection in the mirror; it’s irrelevant. Be happy in your skin, accept your flaws, become the king of the house and a positive role model to society.
About the Author
Hi all. My name is Joey. I’m the owner of http://concealedvoices.com – a men’s blog to motivate, inspire and educate. My blogging journey started during one of the darkest periods of my life. I openly talk about my battles with mental health along with other aspects of life such as lifestyle and fitness. I encourage you to join me on my journey and I look forward to getting to know more of you. If you’re interested in my work then head over to my blog and follow me on social media. The following post is a discussion about men’s body image. I believe there’s a systematic issue that needs to be changed because many of us are sick and tired with how specific industries in society expect men to look.