A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on body positivity and self image (which if you haven't read you can read here) and though I made no mention of gender, I did not specify that this occurs in both men and women. Men share these feelings as much, if not as frequently, as women do yet there appears to be a stereotype/stigma upon poor body image among men. Men are looked at as the buff, macho role that shows no fear nor sadness. If mentioned that they are unhappy about their appearance, it's pretty much laughed at and/or ignored. This week I'm introducing my second guest writer, Thomas, who was more than happy to discuss his story and views on stigma among men dealing with poor body and self image. Thomas is a husband and father to young children who discusses topics ranging from parenting and kids to monthly and personal goals such as keeping active while parenting. You can check out more of Thomas' blog here.
Thank you to Aislinn for offering me the chance to write a guest post about body image – it’s something I find hard to put into words sometimes because in all honesty I don’t know if the way I feel is felt by many others! Here’s an honest and open account of how I feel about body image amongst men in my post titled “My Body & Me”. I don’t think there’s a single day that goes by without me looking in the mirror at some point. Whether I catch a glance as I walk past or I’m getting ready to go somewhere, the result is pretty much the same… I can’t stand the way I look. I can only really speak from my own experience, which as a blogger and as a person is what I tend to do best. I look at myself and just feel a bit…incomplete? Inferior? Different? I don’t like my stomach. I don’t like how hairy my arms are. I don’t like my hair line. I don’t like my teeth. I don’t like my big toe on my right foot. I don’t like that I’m not tanned above the middle of my arms. I don’t like that tattoos don’t suit me. I don’t like that I’m not muscly enough. But most of all, I don’t like how all of the above matters to me. I have never been somebody who has been overly fussy with the way I look. I’m fully aware that, like a lot of men, I inherited certain features from my Mum and certain ones from my Dad and that’s kind of the hand I’ve been dealt. As well as this, historically there has never really been much a man can do to change his appearance; it’s kind of a “what you see is what you get” scenario. So why can’t I shake the feeling of inferiority I get when I look in the mirror? Now in reality, I probably look relatively “normal” and that there’s nothing wrong with the way I look at all. However, judging by the portrayal of other men in the media, it’s safe to say that the majority of people have a slightly different view on the way the most desirable men look. Let me tell you a little bit about the world I think we live in. It is one where the majority of good-looking men on TV have the same physical traits; massive muscles, dreamy eyes, tattoo sleeves and a subscription to Herbalife. Now I wouldn’t think much of this, except for the reaction that these people get on social media. Nowadays, an attractive male is deemed to be the one with the confidence to take selfies with his shirt off and post them onto his socials. So what happened to the scrawny man who busts his backside to try and stay in shape but ultimately finds it easier to sit on the sofa and eat crisps after a long day at work? We’re sexy too, right? Probably not. I know that I’m attractive to the right person and as far as wanting to be desired, that’s more than good enough for me. However, what’s stopping me from being attractive to myself? Why do I continue to compare myself to some of the muscle men on TV, some of whom can barely string a sentence together? It’s not a look I’m going to achieve for myself any time soon so why do I feel the need to put myself through it? I know why; it’s because a man has never been “supposed” to have had these feelings and if he has, he’s been ridiculed for voicing them. In a world where there is such a focus on mental health, men’s body image is still something seldom spoken about. I do not have a lot of male friends. In fact, I could probably count them on one hand and even that’s pushing it. Would we necessarily ever get together and talk about our insecurities? Absolutely not. Would I like to? Absolutely. Is it something we’d ever do? Probably not. Those who have followed my blog etc. will hopefully agree that I come across as pretty honest; so, when I tell you about all the physical things I don’t like about myself, you’ll know that I truly mean them. In truth, there’s probably not an awful lot wrong with my arms and you’ll tell me I look relatively healthy and some people might find me mildly attractive, but with self-esteem as low as mine I probably won’t believe you’re being genuine. We’ve still got a long, long way to go in having open and honest conversations with other men about our bodies and about the impact body image has on our mental health. We’ve come a long way but we’ve still got so far to travel. I would like to thank Aislinn again for giving me the chance to write about something which is so personal and I hope I’ve been able to echo other men who might be feeling something similar. Let’s get better at talking about our image and the way we feel about body image across men as a whole. Thanks!
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