Why do Men have Issues with their Body Image

Body image issues affect both men and women, but the fact that men feel a great deal of pressure to conform to a certain ideal tends to get ignored. Perhaps this is because more women than men seek treatment for eating disorders, and more are open about disliking their bodies, whereas men seem to be more embarrassed about having such concerns, and thus their own problems get ignored. When there are news stories and features about the influence of the media on body image, they largely concentrate on the impact on women rather than men.

This doesn’t change the fact that many men have issues with their own bodies, though; it just demonstrates that it may be more difficult for men to air their concerns since they have fewer outlets. There may be a few men’s magazines they can read where they are able to discover other men who have similar worries, but in general they are less likely to talk to other men about their own body image issues, while the media overwhelmingly concentrates on women’s feelings towards their bodies. It seems that men are expected to be confident and laid back about the way they look, even though there is now just as much pressure on men to look after their appearance as there is on women.

Men are just as likely to worry about their weight and physique, their hair and style, as women because they are constantly being judged by their appearance. If they are overweight then they will feel pressure to slim down, as this is a society where thinness is very much valued, but most men not only want to be slim, but also muscular. A muscular physique tends to be regarded as ‘masculine’ and thus in order to be ‘manly’ men want to conform to this. They are just as susceptible to the images of tall, lean, muscular, handsome Hollywood ‘hunks’ as women are to the images of ultra-thin female celebrities.

Men have their own body insecurities, which are usually very similar to those that women have. They might worry that they are too tall or not tall enough; that they have a big nose or that it is crooked; they may feel that they are too thin or too fat; they may also have issues that generally relate to men, such as worries over hair loss and the presence of ‘man boobs’. Men can also find getting older difficult, similarly to women, and though society may be kinder to older men than women, this is still a youth-obsessed world.

It is clear that men have body image issues for pretty much the same reasons that women do – society is preoccupied with people’s looks and this is reflected in the media. Men constantly see images of what the ideal male body supposedly is and so want to look like these tall, muscular, handsome young men, which can end up making them feel bad about their own bodies when they are unable to achieve such ‘perfection’.