Men and Body Image Issues: What No One Is Talking About
June 23, 2015
Does this image look familiar to you? It probably does. The Dove Campaign for Real beauty which was launched in 2004 is meant to challenge limited notions of what beauty means and empower women of all ages, colours and sizes. Sure, this social movement for women is important for discussion on body image and perceptions—but what about men? Do they even have body image issues? Do they even get plastic surgery?
Of course they do. We just don’t talk about it very much.
By focusing on female bodies so intensely, men and body image issues are easily overlooked. There’s insane pressure for women to look a certain way, and some men feel this pressure to a certain degree as well. The standard created by society for men is to be at least six feet tall and muscular but lean—which pretty much describes Ryan Gosling. As a woman, even I know that’s unfair. However, not all women would agree with this ideal.
|The study below reveals that men think women like a muscular body when they actually prefer an ordinary body.|
Men and Women Don’t Agree on the Ideal Physique of a Man
According to the study “Body Image Perception Among Men in Three Countries”, the authors found that men in their 20s in Europe and the U.S desired a body that was about 28 pounds more muscular than themselves. They also assumed women preferred a male body about 30 pounds more muscular than themselves.
Fascinated by these results, the authors presented images of male bodies to 43 college women in Austria. They asked them to choose which body they preferred. Instead of picking a muscular body, they chose average-looking bodies. As noted by the authors, the men think women like a certain body type when they actually prefer an ordinary body.
Men and Body Image Disorders
Men aren’t immune to body image disorders. Muscle dysmorphia is a disorder in which a person worries about looking too frail or weak. Even if they are already muscular, they constantly fear they look too weak and compulsively exercise. This disorder can interfere with a person’s job, studies, friendships and relationships as they obsessively worry about what others think of their “small” bodies.
In another study, 24 men with muscle dysmorphia answered questions related to their habits and behaviour. Half of them said they spent more than three hours a day thinking about their muscularity. One man said he missed his high school reunion because he was afraid people would mock his “smallness.”
Men Demand Cosmetic Procedures Now More Than Ever
More men are willing to change their looks through cosmetic procedures now. For the longest time, it was generally assumed that men don’t feel compelled to get plastic surgery like women do. That’s not the case now. Since 2010, there have been dramatic increases in these procedures for men: blepharoplasty, male breast reduction and facelifts. Since ASAPS started collecting statistical data in 1997, they’ve seen a 273% increase in the number of procedures performed on men.
While we don’t talk about men and body image as often as we should, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. The lack of attention on this topic indicates that we as a society don’t see this problem significant—yet. Who knows, maybe there will be a campaign for men and masculinity in the future? It may be a stretch but it would certainly be refreshing to see.