It is arguable that when most of us hear the phrases ‘body image’ or ‘self-esteem’, our minds typically wander in the direction of fathoming women, or a woman. We associate issues with confidence and how we perceive our bodies predominately with the female sex because we have been socially conditioned to affiliate these problems with a woman’s body.
I’d like to challenge this notion and argue that these issues target men just as much as they do women, and we desperately need to stop ignoring these problems among males.
It makes sense that we normally reference women when we are talking about body image and lacking confidence because society, for far too long, has perpetuated an ideology that these matters are exclusive to women. Women need to be thin and beautiful in order to be accepted and acknowledged, according to the media, whereas men are intended to be bigger and more masculine-looking, therefore a lack of confidence or even eating disorders cannot impact men. And, if these problems do affect men, then said man is a failure in terms of exemplifying his masculinity.
It is a truly toxic and vicious cycle.
For anyone unaware, self-esteem and body image issues do, in fact, affect men. They do so rather powerfully, if I’m honest, but a lot of men are reluctant to come forward and openly express these issues out of fear of being chastised for experiencing problems that are intended to impact women. Women absolutely do face a lot of pressure and expectations in terms of appearance and physicality, but men do as well, and it isn’t okay that we continue to narrow our gaze and minds and assume these issues aren’t relevant to men.
Men, please consider being more open about any body or appearance-related issues you may have. The conversation will continue to be shunned unless it is normalized, and we have a lot of work to do.