As men, we are under a silent attack. An attack which prays on body insecurities and messes with our mental health. It’s time to fight back!
As a teenager, I was heavier than average and owned every inch of the ‘puppy fat’ term. On to university and I saw my body weight drop. I turned from comfort eating bags of crisps to heavy nights out on 99p vodka and coke mixes. I was thinner, yet I still wasn’t how I wanted to look.
Fast forward 12 years and we’re here. I’m a 31-year-old man. I’m confident, successful and relatively attractive, yet I still feel like my body shape and excess fat lets me down. “If I had a better body, I’d be unstoppable,” I think to myself. “Surely, I’d be happier if I was ripped?”
But in reality, my body isn’t bad at all. I’m physically very strong and I exercise daily. I push my body to its limit and enjoy setting myself new physical challenges. So why do I feel so inadequate?
The ‘Perfect’ Man
On social media, online and on TV, we are fed images of the ‘perfect man’. Even without the label, he is touted as being the perfect specimen. He’s handsome, he’s in demand and he has a great body. He is the alpha male.
We’re led to believe that…
- You cannot succeed without having a chiselled jaw;
- You cannot succeed without having abs;
- If you’re larger or less toned than the perfect Insta’model, you should start your Instagram holiday caption with: #DadBod. You should be sorry for not being perfect.
We are taught from a young age that as men, we should be distanced from how we feel and focus more on how we are perceived by others. There is no strength in vulnerability. Strength comes from physical power and prowess.
Apps like ‘Manly – Photo Editor For Men’ use Instagram advertising to target men like us. Their app allows you to gain pecs, washboard abs, broad shoulders and a tan, all just by swiping and sweeping a couple of times.
What’s wrong with just being me?
Women: Building A Community
In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of body positivity advocates and campaigns for women. On the whole, diversity is championed; and women – collectively – feel confident enough to stand against body shaming.
I follow a couple of plus-size models on Instagram and I’m constantly inspired by their positivity and plight to help reshape societal norms. Sure, there’s still a long way to go, but women are further ahead than men in this case.
Where are these male advocates? Do they exist? Should they exist?
Let’s Start A Change
Now, this isn’t something that can be sorted overnight. I’d be naive to think that. But I do think it important to start this conversation. Sharing our own experiences of body image is important and we can help to start a change.
I know that I’m not the only man that feels like this. I know that I’m not the only man that feels attacked. And I know that I’m not the only man that wants this to change.
Being you – all of you, however big or small – will always be enough.