How Men can be Affected by Body Image Issues

It seems that most of the time a great deal of attention is paid to how images in the media affect women’s self-esteem and body issues without considering the fact that men are also influenced by the images they see. There has always been a lot of pressure on women to look after their appearance; to remain slim, to wear flattering clothing, and to apply make-up, since an idea persists that women have to be conventionally attractive in order to obtain a mate. Men have not traditionally faced this kind of pressure, since they have always been told that power, humour, and wealth are more significant determinants of attraction. Yet, more men are starting to feel that their appearance is extremely important and so are going to great lengths to ‘improve’ their bodies.

Men are routinely confronted with tall, muscular men who wear stylish clothing and have perfectly coiffed hair. They see images of the ‘perfect man’ when they watch movies and television shows, and read magazines. Whereas in the past it was always women who were supposed to spend hours in the bathroom beautifying themselves for a night out, men are now expected to put a bit of time and effort into their appearance. This usually means styling their hair, applying various products to it, putting on moisturiser and other creams to their skin. They now put more thought into their body hair, with some men opting to wax any hair that is on their body. The ‘metrosexual’ male has made it acceptable for men to care about their appearance, which may not be such a bad thing except men are now feeling pressured into looking a certain way.

Styling their hair and wearing flattering clothes may only be minor things, but men have also started to become more preoccupied with their overall appearance, so that they convince themselves that they need to be slimmer and more muscular in order to be considered attractive. These men can end up spending hours in the gym, working out, in order to try to obtain the ‘perfect’ body, and being dissatisfied with anything less than their conception of perfection. Consequently, they end up feeling rather negative about themselves and their bodies, and can never quite be happy with the way they look. They feel that they are either too skinny or too fat, and that nothing they do will change this, though they continue trying to alter their body shape anyway.

It is therefore evident that men are just as likely to be affected by body image issues as women, though they may be more reluctant to talk about these issues, since it is not regarded as particularly ‘manly’ to do so.