We all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin regardless of size, gender, or colour. Sadly, with societal expectations of how men should behave, it can be difficult for us to find that love in our bodies.
In fact, the Campaign Against Living Miserably found in a study that only 26% of men between 16 to 40 were happy with how their bodies looked, but we’re on the road to changing that for the better.
Now more than ever, men need the reassurance of knowing that they and their bodies are enough. We’re seeing an uptick in male body positivity influencers who focus less on hitting the weights and more on accepting who we are. In this article, we look at some of the many reasons why men should feel assurance from seeing positive reassurance about their bodies.
Film, TV, and wider media have had an enormous contribution to how men view themselves. Men have been conditioned to look at the heroes and love interests on-screen, and in every shot we see how they’re perfectly lean with straight teeth and gapless smiles.
One increasingly common theme with body expectations among men is the superhero body transformation. Actors who haven’t traditionally be connected with properties like Marvel or DC regularly go through huge physical changes to fit the aesthetic we associate with superheroes.
Media is a large part of popular culture and can absolutely link to the wider audience of men feeling inadequate. What these transformations don’t show is the intense amount of work and upkeep that goes into producing the body, and is frankly unattainable by everyday standards and resources, such as personal trainers and dieticians.
From a very young age, men are taught that displaying emotions isn’t masculine. In a study from Michigan State University, it was determined that men who conform to outdated ideas of masculinity become socially isolated as they get older. This, in turn, affects their physical and mental health.
By conforming to this worn-out idea of what it takes to be “masculine”, it gives men less of an opportunity to not only express themselves, but also limits what they’re willing to experiment with when it comes to styles of dress.
Breaking The Stigma
While it’s clear that a staggering number of men feel this way, for things to get better men need figureheads and people willing to start the conversation. A fantastic example is Jonah Hill, who made a public statement on Instagram asking people and news publications to not comment on his body, which prompted a massive positive response from the online community. Harry Styles is another public figure who decided to push back against the traditional by wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue.
Now this doesn’t mean we need a large following or a cover feature on a fashion magazine to start breaking the stigma around talking about male body image issues. Starting small is still a start, whether that’s talking to a friend or loved one about how we’re feeling or making fashion choices that you feel more confident in.
In fact, a study showed that even though 78% of men aged between 20 and 59 said it’s okay to admit you’re struggling, 25% said they felt their problems weren’t serious enough to ask for help. For the stigma to truly be broken, an emphasis must be placed on encouraging men to speak out when they’re struggling and giving them a safe space to heal from these feelings.
Male Beauty On The Rise
We’ve recently seen a positive change in how men approach beauty products. Whether this is a desire to break away from the norms forced upon men or an effect of ‘Love Island’, we’re seeing a statistical rise in male beauty products.
It’s brilliant to see more men embracing the new culture of painted nails or simply trying out self tan drops for a confidence-boosting glow, there’s no wrong way to begin the process of self-love. Just go with the vibes of what your body wants and needs to meet its goals. Plus, with 34% of males at the start of 2020 saying they felt more confident about their looks than in the previous year, there is definitely a positive change on the horizon.
Every Body Is A Good Body
In the end, we only get one body and we deserve to feel the comfort of knowing it’s uniquely ours. And despite the unrealistic expectations and values that men are taught from childhood, the work of influencers is beginning to make real social change. More and more men are learning it is okay to feel good about themselves and their bodies.
As a result of the want to break from this pattern of conformity, a number of male body positivity influencers have emerged and begun teaching men that loving the body you’re in is not a shameful practice, as well as celebrities cracking the mould of what it means to accept yourself.
And though statistics show that we still have a long way to go before these issues become something that can be freely discussed among friends, we can hope that in the not-so distant future it becomes commonplace to assure the men we care about that they look good and deserve to feel good too.