guys deal with body image issues, too

People think body image is only about girls and women.

When I say I write about body image, sometimes people say, “Oh, women’s issues.”

And they are right. And they are wrong.

We have imagined these big immigration fences around so many issues, as though no women can get out and no men can get in. A friend of mine who works for a domestic violence prevention organization, discussing Steubenville, pointed out that so often we talk about saving women but we don’t talk about educating men. We talk about ourselves as though we are born into separate camps and then stay there, sometimes harmed for practically inexplicable reasons by the people in the other camp, sometimes simply dealing with issues that don’t affect them, that they can’t really comprehend.

I don’t think we should ever turn a conversation about rape survivors into one that focuses exclusively on boys and men (unless we’re talking exclusively about boys and men who have been raped), and it’s perfectly clear to me that beauty rules are stricter and beauty expectations higher for girls and women. But the story definitely doesn’t stop there, and when we act like it does we perpetuate that notion of separate, fenced-off camps. I’ve always liked to climb, though.

Girls and women are able to talk about body image concerns in louder voices, in more public spaces, and guys are often just not supposed to care, so they keep quiet. Girls and women are actually not supposed to care, too, but when we do, it seems to be more forgivable. But boys and men are also struggling with the way beauty works in our world. Especially, I’ve noticed, with the way fat is demonized. But also with the other specific requirements of physical attractiveness that so many of us learn to believe in as fiercely and automatically as we believe in God or scientific fact. In the Captain America story, we fairly cheer when the slender, delicate hero is transformed into a strapping, muscle-bound fighting machine. He can save the world now, because he’s jacked. Before, there was no chance. He had to switch bodies to succeed.

(before, women just felt sorry for him…now look! source)

 

I could tell you a story about a boy who was always small and thin, and he felt invisible inside his baggy clothes, and he retreated, shoulders hunched protectively forward, making incessant jokes about his own “wimpiness.” There was no magical electrode machine waiting in a shiny lab somewhere to pump him up and set him free.

And what about the boy who was teased for being chubby and how he always wore a shirt when he went swimming, and how he felt that he didn’t look “smart,” because “fat kids are supposed to be dumb”? He later locked himself in the gym every day with such ferocious dedication that everyone was impressed. And when he emerged, after eating nothing except for a can of tuna every day and working out for hours, lightheaded, big-armed, slim-waisted, everyone praised him and praised him for looking so good. For taking charge of his life. For manning up. People are always so happy for someone who loses a lot of weight. But it is more complicated than that. I could tell you about how he looks at his body hatefully, even now, years later. He is embarrassed of what he was—it seems unforgivable that he was so “lazy,” and he is always afraid of slipping. Of sliding backwards into the dark hole of softness, when he was fairly certain that no girl would ever want him, when he felt people’s eyes on him, judging, constantly. When he thought he needed to hide his body.

(source)

I could tell you these stories, but they would only be the beginning. When you listen carefully, the stories appear everywhere, vivid and almost indistinguishable from one another. There are variations and slight deviations of the plot, but for the most part, there is that incessant sense of guilt, of self-loathing, and that addicted desire to improve one’s life by changing the way one looks.

A friend of mine who is in therapy to cope with an eating disorder whispered to me over coffee about her boyfriend, who won’t go to therapy, but he also won’t eat. He exercises for hours every day. If he doesn’t make it to the gym, he feels disgusting, he feels like a failure. He works all day, and he is dizzy, always on his feet, but he says he’s fine, he’s fine, he knows what he’s doing. He’s challenging himself. He’s getting in shape. He explains, he used to be fat. He can never go back there. What is she supposed to do, she asks. She doesn’t know what to do about it.

I know guys who have fainted. I have dated them and not caught on for a surprisingly long time.

I know guys who make constant self-deprecating remarks about their bodies. Manly men, cocky dudes, bros who are obsessing over their waist fat, over their biceps, over whether or not they’re finally OK.

“Totally manorexic,” I’ve heard guys tease each other. But it’s a joke! It’s totally a joke! That stuff is for girls. Obviously.

Obviously not.

It feels ironic to me, sometimes. Because, you know, I write about this stuff. I write about my own body insecurities, and the ways that women are pressured to look a certain way, and perform a certain look, and the ways that women are censored by beauty. But sometimes it’s the boys and men in my life who seem to need the most encouragement, where body image is concerned. And I think a big part of the reason is because even as they’re experiencing these feelings, they’re not really allowed to talk about them.

I don’t mean to suggest, by the way, that “body image concerns” always means “eating disorders.” Eating disorders are just an unavoidable, painful example of the way  lessons about what matters about the way we look can get applied to our every day. And they get applied this way for boys and men, too. And I wonder sometimes if the unrelenting, cruel logic of eating disordered thinking might appeal especially to the men who struggle with the way their bodies look. I have heard guys talk in such black and white terms about their decisions. Something is wrong. They’re supposed to take charge. If there’s a problem, it needs to be fixed. Weight needs to be lost, muscle needs to be gained, it’s that straightforward. I have listened to women frantically treading water from the vortex of an eating disorder, and they have told me about trying to think their way out, trying to reason, trying to look at it from another angle, trying to find some way to love themselves from the depths of crushing negativity.

(Captain America knows how to take the charge. source)

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” guys have told me. “Either I look good or I look like shit.”

I wonder if boys are educated in so many subtle ways to avoid subtlety, while girls are expected to dive into detail. Not that everyone falls neatly into any category, of course (no camps! Tear the fences down!), but I’ve seen this as a striking difference between the way that men and women address their body image struggles.

And troublingly, the most virulent strains of body-hatred insist, “There is no other way to look at it. You are disgusting.”

It’s critical, in the face of this, that we all learn to talk back. And that might be even harder when you’ve learned not to talk about it at all.

I have also wanted to fix myself. To take a transformative surgical knife and cut away the parts that marred me. I used to imagine a world where people were made of this moldable clay substance and they would all rearrange their bodies and their faces constantly, so that they could look however they wanted to that day. I told myself it was an allegorical short story that I would one day write. At the same time, I fantasized about my own face after my nose had been shaved down to something nonthreatening and acceptable. I used to sometimes shave it down to a tantalizing sliver, using photoshop.

Either you look good or you look like shit.

But it’s not that straightforward. It’s a subtle, long-fingered ghost, that kind of shame and disgust towards your own body, and it reaches into your future and stirs things up and idly plays with your ideas about who you are. Whether you’re worthy. Whether you’re good.

I think we need to stop blithely praising guys for getting ripped when there are signs that more is going on. We need to recognize a wide variety of masculine beauty. I know that I, for one, am and always have been attracted to guys who are softer, heavier than Captain America would ever dream of being. I know that most people are attracted to a lot of different looks and body types. There’s room here for differences, just as there is and always has been for women, even as we fight to whittle ourselves down to a specific model of attractiveness– even as we crave moldable bodies and faces that can be adapted to fit our anxieties. I think we need to somehow let men talk. I honestly don’t know where this starts. I didn’t know what to tell my friend over coffee, when she confided in me about her boyfriend.

I’m not trying to speak for boys and men myself, here. But because there are a few I love a lot, I can’t not say anything.

*  *  *

Do you know boys and men who are dealing with body image issues? Or are you a guy who thinks about this stuff? I’m interested, of course.

Unroast: Today I love the way I look when I wash my hair without shampoo. I just started doing this and I have no idea why I didn’t try it before. I thought my hair would be horribly greasy, and instead it just looks healthy and clean and a little wild. I LOVE IT. Is it possible that I just didn’t need shampoo all this time? Why did I think I was so dependent on it?

37 Comments »

Kate on March 25th 2013 in beauty, body

37 Responses to “guys deal with body image issues, too”

  1. teegan responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 11:07 am #

    hooray for no shampoo! i haven’t used it since college.
    my brother-in-law is like the guys you’re taking about. he’ll let everything slide, then say terrible things about himself and pretty much starve himself until he’s where he’d rather be, back and forth. i haven’t noticed it, but mark said it was way more common before he met his now-wife. i think she keeps him more moderately in line with healthy eating.
    mark is (thank goodness) not like this. he’s like his step-dad. when he sees that he has a little belly, he amps up with more sit-ups and push-ups throughout his day and he’ll have tea a few nights a week when he would have had a beer. bingo. problem solved. the man is the king of moderation and being kind to himself.

  2. Caitlin responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    I think we look at the median experience for men and women and say “women have it worse”. I know I often said that to one of my male friends.

    In reality, it’s more like 2 overlapping bell curves. Yes, women as a group tend to be subjected to more body crap than men, but there will be overlap, and so some men will experience more body crap than some women will.

    I’m having a hard time describing this without a graph…

  3. RitaMarie responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I have gained a little weight since I got married (only 3 months ago). My husband has also gained weight and he is so super self-conscious about it. He laughs it off, but I know how it makes him feel. It’s not a ton of weight- but when it’s your issue, any amount of weight can feel like a ton. Thank you for writing this post. Gives me a little more insight into what he may be experiencing.

  4. Steff responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    It’s really too bad that guys rarely speak up about this, because ladies fighting body image pressures can definitely use some allies! During some of my half-assed diet/work out periods, I’ve stumbled onto male targeted forums about body building, and each time my mind is *blown* by the kinds of drastic measures some of these guys go to for chiseled physiques (lifting ridiculous amounts of weight for ridiculous amounts of time while eating ridiculously little). However there is almost no dialogue about the emotional toll of these regimens, just a lot of bro speak about sucking it up and being a man. I think the experience of dealing with these pressures must be incredibly different for men and women, so it’d be great to hear more from a male perspective. Thanks for exploring this Kate.

  5. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    While I don’t dismiss the media as “source of angst” when it comes to body image (especially where women are concerned), I am closer to understanding that it is the psychological makeup of an individual that affects their body image MORE. My long time husband (we are now divorced) had several surgeries to change the appearance of his nipples…seriously. He was so self-conscious about it. And years ago I dated a fabulous chef who had lost a significant amount of weight, although he still had a nice round belly to cuddle…long story short, one evening I was feeling frisky :) and he said he couldn’t that night because he just felt fat and disgusting. I was nonplussed…he was adorable, cuddly and sexy as far as I was concerned. Confidence begins on the inside, male or female.

  6. Melanie responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    I have quite a few male friends who have just as many body insecurities as I do. And it’s nice in that they aren’t embarrassed to talk and be vocal about it. We just all try and realize we should eat healthy and exercise, and if our body doesn’t look the way it’s “supposed to” that’s okay. That doesn’t always work, but we try.

  7. morgaine responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    “I am closer to understanding that it is the psychological makeup of an individual that affects their body image MORE.”

    Kimmy Sue, I absolutely agree. I subscribe to the “heredity loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger” philosophy. We’re all subjected to the same media, yet relatively few of us develop full-blown eating disorders. There has to be something more going on, something more personal that informs the way we relate to ourselves, to those around us, and (most of all, I think) to stress.

    I had bulimia. (For the record, I am female.) It’s been seven months since my last purge, and I’ve felt no significant pulls back to my old disordered state, something of which I am very, very proud. To me, it never felt like an issue of body image. Yes, I hated my body, but I also hated almost everything. I was severely depressed and my OCD was flaring up. The purging was OCD incarnate: a compulsive behavior that made me feel sedated and calm afterward. While body image is undeniably important to address, I believe it should be presented more as one of the many factors that can influence disordered eating rather than as the be-all-end-all.

    Anyway, Kate, I’m sorry to stray from the subject at hand. This is a great piece, and I commend you for writing it. I especially appreciate your acknowledgement that boys and men can be raped, which seems glaringly absent from the cultural perception of sexual assault. However, I take issue with your notion that ” it’s perfectly clear to me that beauty rules are stricter and beauty expectations higher for girls and women”. You are a woman, and that’s your only frame of reference. Perhaps some men experience beauty expectations just as intensely as you do. There’s really no way to know, because you can’t quantitatively measure subjective experience.

  8. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Morgaine…I hope you continue to conquer that beast. My youngest daughter has struggled with “body image,” but it is a side effect of much deeper issues. Good luck to you!

  9. Kate responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    @Morgaine
    My point that you took issue with is not about who I am and how I experience the world compared with men, more that the world places more emphasis on women’s appearances. I don’t think this is really a perspective thing. You have only to turn on the TV to see a male anchor sitting next to a female one. The female one is almost always young and stereotypically sexy. Not so for the guys! You know what I mean.

    So true what you and Kimmy are saying about who individuals are. Also true that society gives girls and boys different messages about what is important.

  10. Piper Alexander responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    This is an interesting topic and one I think about only occasionally. Sometimes it strikes me that while I’m self-conscious about my body, thinking it should be smaller, my boyfriend might be thinking he should be more muscular.

    I do agree that “beauty rules are stricter and beauty expectations higher for girls and women” only because there’s so much self-worth wrapped up into it. The message to men isn’t that they only need to be big & ripped, because if they aren’t, they can be funny or smart or successful in business, etc., whereas for women, it’s the be all and end all. The message is that it’s the only thing we have to offer.

  11. Claire Allison responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    I’ve noticed grooming is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for men too. My best friend once confided in me that he plucks the hairs that rise up above his collar bone because they make him so self conscious and he wants to wear V’s. What struck me was how he literally whispered about it, and asked for my advice on whether or not he should switch to waxing, and what that would mean for his identity if he did. For him, plucking was a secret shameful activity, and waxing would mean crossing over into a totally different realm of masculine grooming, one more public, that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a part of. As an Italian man, he is rather furry, and in a different time that would have been highly praised, but now he has to deal with the fact that his hairyness is not only less appealing to women, works less with fashion trends and that if he pays to change his appearance that somehow changes how he identifies as a male. I notice that the older we get the more I see the men in my life stressing about the way their bodies do or do not reflect dominant cultural ideas about masculinity. As a woman, I have a lot more cultural resources built to help me reject the cultural norms of fashion, and that can help me cope with my choices, but men have fewer resources to help them say “no, I just want to look the way I look and be happy with it”.

  12. jen responded on 25 Mar 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I agree with the comment above, it would be wonderful to have men speaking out on these issues – allies in a common fight! My oldest brother is definitely one that struggles to stay trim and gives himself just as much guilt-tripping and near obsessive workouts to maintain what he feels is the body ideal. It has gotten better lately, I think fatherhood has chilled him out for the moment.

    As for not shampooing – I quit daily shampooing this summer and it’s awesome. I wash my hair now only once a week and it looks so much better than it ever did being daily washed and styled.

  13. camelshoes responded on 26 Mar 2013 at 1:03 am #

    My husband, who is 30 with a receding hairline (but very self-confident and plans to shave his head once it’s mostly gone), often remarks about how he hates the advertisements for those ‘hair regrowth’ clinics or medications and the negative messages on baldness from the media/society’s expectations.

    Other male body image things he’s mentioned are:
    that being fit is supposed to = muscles/6-pack;
    that having back hair, older man eyebrow, nostril and ear hairs is considered unacceptable/unattractive;
    and that moisturisers are now targeting males as well as females (only they have signs of fatigue as opposed to our signs of aging!)

    As and aside, he also gets annoyed at the typical husbands in commercials – they are usually portrayed as incompetent morons who can’t take care of themselves, their kids, the house etc.

  14. Sheryl responded on 26 Mar 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I think men are probably given less leeway to talk about how they feel about their bodies and have opinions on it. If I want to complain about my size, as a women, most of the other women in my life will sympathize with me and validate my feelings. If my husband wants to complain about his size to his friends? He’ll pretty much be told to “man up” or otherwise that this line of thought isn’t worth discussing.

  15. Marylou responded on 26 Mar 2013 at 10:00 am #

    I’ve actually been shampoo-free for a couple years now. It’s the best thing I ever did for my hair. It’s healthier, and I learned I actually have quite a bit of natural curl. Turns out most people do, but all the chemicals in shampoo strip out all the natural oils in your hair. Plus shampoos can get so expensive.

    If it ever does get greasy, make a paste out of baking soda and scrub your scalp with it. If your hair ever feels like it needs conditioner, do 50/50 water and apple cider vinegar (or just use lemon juice).

    You’ll never go back. :)

  16. Marylou responded on 26 Mar 2013 at 10:02 am #

    OH also, your post was wonderful. It’s a real eye-opener. I appreciate it, and now will be able to recognize any signs if I see them.

    Your blog has really helped me appreciate the fact that _everyone_ is beautiful.

  17. Hudson responded on 26 Mar 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for a long time, I have been on inpatient eating disorder units with all sorts of people who are not “supposed to” worry about their weight: 7-year-olds, 70-year-olds, minorities, and, of course, boys and men. Unfortunately, body hatred knows no bounds.

  18. Rapunzel responded on 26 Mar 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    I’m a yo-yo dieter. Always have since elementary or middle school. Probably always will be. My grandmother has always been one, so it’s like it’s in my veins.
    My weight is currently at the high end of the yo-yoing. I feel the “crushing negativity” towards my body every day, and that’s a great way to describe it in so few words. It’s awful. I blame myself a lot. I blame my job, too. I truly hate my job. I gained 30 pounds with reckless abandon in three months because of that place, but I can’t quit because you just can’t quit a paying job in this economy, even if it is at minimum wage with no raises.
    I’ve never felt so unhealthy and also so depressed in my life. I’ve also never felt so…stuck. I’ve been going to therapy for about a month an a half now and it hasn’t helped one iota. I feel pretty beyond help.
    Anyway, I feel guilty a lot because of my body image issues and pure hatred of my body when I’m married to a cancer survivor who literally lives with those battle scars plain on his face every day. He says he got over it a long time ago, but sometimes I wonder. I’m afraid sometimes that I have no right to hate my body or my face, no matter how fat or imperfect, because at least mine is whole. Like I should just be grateful and shut up (same with the job I guess).

  19. Claire Allison responded on 27 Mar 2013 at 3:05 am #

    Rapunzel, you have the right to hate your body. But you also have the right to love it. And you have the right to hate your job or your life, no matter how good it might appear in the plight of others, because you have the right to want more for yourself. But beyond that, you have the right to see that and change it, or to learn to accept it for what it is.

    If you’ve been seeing a therapist for a month and it isn’t helping, isn’t even giving you hope that it could start to help, perhaps you should consider changing therapists? Or tell your therapist that what is happening isn’t helping. I saw a therapist for five months, and it took time for me to see what she saw in me and believe it.

    A stranger on the internet like me isn’t going to give you anything that can change the way you feel about yourself, but I do hope, even as a stranger on the internet, that you can see the value in yourself and what you want and what you think you deserve. There is no sense in believing the idea that you shouldn’t want what you want just because other people have it worse.

  20. Elizabeth responded on 27 Mar 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Rapunzel — I hear you. I’ve had depression and anxiety disorder, and I’ve hated my body. Therapy helped me get better. What helped me a lot was Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), but of course I can’t say what will or won’t work for you.

    I guess I’m just trying to say – I can hear your pain through your words, and even though we’re both anonymous people on the internet, I care about you, and I want the best for you.

    And Kate, thank you SO MUCH for providing such excellent posts and a supportive, caring environment for your fans.

  21. Rapunzel responded on 27 Mar 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    @Claire Allison @Elizabeth

    <3

  22. Laura responded on 27 Mar 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    There’s a guy in my life who I care deeply about definitely has body image issues and has, in my opinion, toed the line with an eating disorder. He was overweight a decade ago, but got serious about diet and exercise and lost a few dozen pounds and has kept almost all of it off for years. He looks great, feels great, and has perfectly cholestrol and blood pressure numbers when he’s in the at the weight he’s at today, but thinks he ten or twenty pounds lighter because of the BMI chart. He’s constantly getting all kinds of tests done (he’s making the people who draw blood for diagnostics rich!), and feels that he’s falling off the wagon if he doesn’t do two kinds of exercise every day.

    I think he worries in part because his father developed high blood pressure in his forties. His mother and sisters were also dieting constantly when he was growing up, and I suspect this has some role in his obsession, too. Eating disorders are often passed from mother to daughter, so why not mother to son? I have nothing against trying to live healthfully, well, and long, but spending decades of your life with such worry and self-oppression doesn’t sound quite worth it enough to me. My one year with anorexia was more than enough for me. Today I eat healthy, but I try to make myself make room for the cake (or ice cream or french fries) sometimes, too. I wish this guy could, too.

    *****

    Isn’t no shampoo amazing? I stopped using it last year and switched over to baking soda to wash with and a homemade conditioner of honey, apple cider vinegar, and water. It took a couple of months for my hair to adjust, but today it’s so much shinier and less frizzy than it has been in years. It’s lovely to get the toxins in shampoo out of my life. Honestly, though, I’ve struggled not to hate my hair for years, and loving the way my hair looks now is the greater benefit.

  23. Jo B responded on 28 Mar 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    This post really resonated with me. My older sister got me into feminism and I was reading body acceptance blogs all through my teens. Perhaps due to this I’ve almost always felt confident both in terms of personality and body image. My boyfriend is very shy about his body and struggles with low self esteem, although I’m pretty sure he’s never talked about it to anyone else. He was a very short kid and got stuck with the nickname ‘Midget’ which (although he is now more small-to-average) our friends still use to refer to him sometimes.

  24. Joe responded on 30 Mar 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Kate – this an admirable piece, I think you did a nice job of showing how men struggle with self-worth and body image too.

    I have a lot of thoughts about this sort of thing, but I’ll try to keep it brief and would love to hear yours or any of the commenters’ perspectives in response.

    Here are a couple things this piece made me think of:

    1. Men are often trapped when it comes to talking about body image. Silence is dangerous, and most men I know don’t get to talk about their bodies and their hearts in a real, direct, and thoughtful way. This is troubling for men, women, trans, questioning, and everyone in between, because cruelty, simple stereotypes, and thoughtlessness all thrive on silence.

    2. What to do about it? I think telling men to be more open and thoughtful is great, but the reality is that modeling is the most powerful tool that we all have. For women, specifically, thinking carefully about how to be direct, honest, and fair when communicating and connecting with the men in their lives.

    I’ll give you a popular example for straight men and women, the “I’m thinner/prettier than her, right?” trope, which comes up frequently. That is a moment that straight men dread because if we say yes we are reinforcing a hurtful putdown culture and most men I know really don’t want to do that. If we say no then it translates to “I don’t think you are the most beautiful woman on earth” and while that is invariably true it’s generally not received well.

    Now, I know that’s a tired and obvious example, and I’m not at all criticizing women for that kind of moment. It’s a stupid culture and women especially are under unimaginable amounts of pressure. But as an example, what could happen that would be more constructive in that moment would be “Hey, she’s really beautiful, I just caught myself thinking ‘am I prettier than her,’ do you ever get frustrated with being compared or comparing yourself to other guys?”

    That’s the sort of moment that emphasizes that what we should really be doing is being curious, thoughtful, and compassionate to ourselves and others. Men, just like women, will respond to that. Maybe not at first, and maybe not always, but it’ll challenge/give them the opportunity to speak up in a culture that generally encourages their silence. I’m a man and even I have hard time getting other men to open up. But the reward, when we are persistent in our healthy modeling, is immense. And it’s good for men and women!

  25. Alicia Cumming responded on 03 Apr 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    You may have gotten my post on how this Asian couple were looking for ways for the husband to healthfully gain weight, because you know, he just can’t be slight. He just can’t. Poor men. Still, we take the cake. My brother went somewhere important with an unshaven face (stubble) and his excuse was that he didn’t have a vagina so he was exempt from all that body grooming.

  26. Joseph Chancey responded on 09 Apr 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Would you please share this with your followers. Dawn Dalili is offering a FREE interview series on Body Image. I have worked with Dawn over the past year and have lost over 70 lbs and have never felt better in my 55 years.

    I am very excited about this series and wish to share it with your followers.

    Thanks!
    Jody

    http://www.thebodyimagesummit.com/

  27. Guys Deal With Body Image Issues Too responded on 16 Apr 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    [...] originally appeared on Eat The Damn Cake. Republished here with [...]

  28. 3 people! Oh and body image issues. « dancingthroughsilence responded on 30 May 2013 at 7:49 am #

    [...] Body issues are VERY common in both women and men (READ THIS ARTICLE… it’s for MEN! http://www.eatthedamncake.com/2013/03/25/guys-deal-with-body-image-issues-too/) [...]

  29. Just a Guy responded on 30 Sep 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    I found this page while searching for info on male body acceptance. Because I am a male who is seriously struggling with this. I’ve managed to avoid anorexia and bulimia, but oddly enough I think it’s because I’ve given up hope that there is a solution.

    After a lot of thinking about the topic, I think that not only are men “supposed to” look ripped and chiseled to be attractive to women, but BECAUSE women are less likely to be visually stimulated by men than men are by women, many of us men go through life assuming that we have to look PERFECT before women will notice us.

    I’m happily married, but I don’t believe that my wife finds me attractive.

    In fact, I don’t believe that anyone finds me attractive.

    I’m an average-looking guy. Slightly overweight but I don’t look it with a shirt on (which is key, I guess). But I absolutely believe that there is not a woman on the planet who would look at me and be sexually aroused by my appearance.

    And I don’t believe that I can change that. I know that I COULD massively abuse my body until I was muscular and looked okay without a shirt on, but I’m terrified that if I did that, women STILL wouldn’t find me attractive, and I would have wasted everything to accomplish that goal.

    It makes me feel sick and ashamed whenever I think about how I look.

    Ironically, it also makes me less patient with WOMEN’S body acceptance issues, because while men can be shallow and attracted to a particular type, most of us really do want to see pretty much any woman naked. Even the homeliest woman could offer to show herself to men and they’d want to see it… but I’m pretty positive that there aren’t women who would be interested in my naked body.

    So yeah. We deal with it, too. But because no one will talk about it, we deal with it alone.

  30. Sean responded on 21 Oct 2013 at 12:58 am #

    Sketching photos of naked chubby guys is sometimes helpful for me. Not in the sense of comparing how fat I am to them, but in seeing something in them that goes beyond my stereotype of fat guys. Seeing something worthwhile and unique about them that overcomes that stereotype.

    Also annotating and responding to American Psycho, which portrays a quintessential American male ideal.

    When I jog I’ve been trying to focus on the increased energy and connection to my limbs it will give me. But still in the back of my mind the thought of it helping me losing weight is there.

  31. Alcione responded on 05 Dec 2013 at 1:10 am #

    @Just a Guy
    You can always lose weight if you want, and that can definitely be worth it, what we want to look like and being confortable about ourselves is the priority. On the other han, you can always accept yourself the way you are know, independently of how you will look tomorrow (if you will lose weight or not).
    And men don’t have to look “perfect” (whatever that means) for me to feel visually attracted to them. Know that’s a sociocultural talk. I’m not North American, and where I’m from women WILL talk about men’s looks and physical attractiveness a lot. We are also “proved” to be as visually attracted to males as our males are to females (a lot indigenous won’t feel attracted to each toher visually, as bodies aren’t perceived as sensual, so it changes from culture to culture). So for me to say something to you about this would be difficult, as I’m not the typical woman you have in your Country.
    Being honest, I’m more attracted to skinny and fit males. But I also find slightly overweight guys attractive, as much as I find more muscular ones attractive – not my favorite, but some are indeed handsome. Now we have to also remember the style, sensualitty (the way he talks, walks, moves, facial/corporal expressions…). And the emotional part of the attraction also plays a big role – I won’t want to have a relationship with a handsome but stupid or rude guy. And the guy I fall in love with usually becomes the most sexy man in the world to me, seriously. I won’t become blind, I still find other men attractive, but he is my number 1.
    You see, body issues are more personal than anything. It doesn’t matter how many people would enjoy seeing you naked, if you can’t enjoy the way you look you will still feel bad.
    Have you ever asked your wife about what does she like about your body?

  32. Rhiannon responded on 20 Jan 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    If any males that are quite insecure about their own body image and are interested in participating in a survey, please click the link below. All answers are anonymous and you must be more than 13 years old. It wont take long! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/S39KSQ3

  33. Lisa responded on 25 Jan 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    Apparently, the media makes men look visually perfect for women to be visually attracted to them, especially in North America, where women talk about how men look all the time and how they want to leave their average man for for some handsome hunk with a nice, fit body. Of course, even men will compare their looks to other men, saying they’re more handsome than that other guy, etc.

  34. Eat the Damn Cake » the wound responded on 26 Feb 2014 at 11:23 am #

    [...] *Boys and men deal with body image struggles as well! I’m not addressing that so much here, although a lot of this applies to everyone. [...]

  35. Body By Me | Recovery Miles responded on 02 Mar 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    [...] news articles or stories about dealing with male body image issues. I personally identify with this one the most and reading the comments helped a [...]

  36. Male Person responded on 07 Mar 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Guys don’t talk about insecurities because like mentioned above, you’re told to “man up” and don’t be a “woman”. But here’s a list of a lot of the things a guy will be worried about but never say…

    1) face is too ugly, acne, wrinkles, can’t use any facial products to help either because that’s “feminine/gay”

    2)too fat or too skinny, need to be muscular. So many guys at the gym use steroids it’s ridiculous.

    3) hair is receding, now a girl is going to think im going to be bald and ugly

    4) I don’t get the privilege to be a wall flower, i have to be the life of the party otherwise no girl will want to be with me

    5) my penis isn’t big enough, nothing i can do to fix it, guess i better accept being a hermit forever.

    6) can’t last more than 40 seconds during sex, never going to be able to maintain a relationship.

    just a few that i can think of off the top of my head.

  37. Darrell responded on 05 Apr 2014 at 5:44 am #

    I stumbled across your page while doing some reading on how to deal with body image issues in men and have found some of the things you said very refreshing and understanding.

    I have been struggling with body image issues for years. As a kid i was always the chubby kid, teased for not being as physically gifted as my “friends” as a teen and young adult I dealt with it by immersing myself into sport (rugby union in Australia) and excelling at it. I was still the fat kid, but it was helpful being the fat kid in the position i played and i laughed along with the jokes and made out that it didn’t hurt. As an adult i go through regular cycles of self hate. I spend months starving myself and belting myself crazy in the gym to lose weight (and i always do) only for some life event (new job, kids, moving town) would interrupt me and i would gradually creep back up to my “fat self”. This has happened 3-4 times now and it has only been the last time that I have come to the realisation that it is not my weight or body issues i need to fix, it is my mental issues. I now feel confident that if i can get on top of these issues then i will be able to get on top of my emotional responses to food. I now realise that I don’t have to fit the ideal image of what a male is supposed to look like, i just have to feel comfortable with myself, whatever i decide that is! thanks for your article!