The Two Sides Of A Coin: Men’s Body Image Considerations

For a long time the debate on women looking in the mirror and being looked at has been a very focused-on subject in discussions, the media and women’s personal thoughts. But what about men? We know that the standard of women’s bodies has changed, in the Renaissance bigger, curvy women were the norm, while today 90-60-90 is the standard worldwide. The obsession with thinness sadly leads to many problems such as eating disorders and body image issues.

It must be good being Ben Cohen Today

It must be good being Ben Cohen today

But, again, what about men? What is the ideal image of a man? One might be tempted to answer: “none”, as men are accepted and free to be and look like whatever they want. However, we can say that one would be missing the forest for the trees. It might be true that men aren’t the subject of critique as much as women, but they still are. The answer is that there is one standard of the male body image.

We live in a society where the male body image is often charged with sexuality. It’s kind of like air: we live in it all the time, but don’t take the time to notice. Sexually charged images of men are seen everywhere: in the media, on TV, on the Internet, etc. These create a standard that men feel they need to achieve, even though they don’t talk about it or show it. Although the palette of imagery is really big, the main concept is always the same: young, usually white and particularly muscular men are the standard. The men we are surrounded by in the media are strong-jawed, healthy, virile, successful, and sexy. And this has always been the case. The only difference between men’s body image today and in ancient times is that in ancient Greece for example, older men were looked at as they also valued wisdom, which they believed came with age. Of course, “old age” for them meant their 40s or 50s.

The problem with this is not that it’s wrong or bad to be young, muscular and to have big arms and shoulders; we are not slamming people who are strong, virile and powerful; the issue is that men who don’t fit this norm are too often not taken seriously.

 

There are two versions of this imagery: the power-look and the casual look.  Of course, these two are in no need to be described: the power-look is the look of men who work in business and the casual look is for the more informal, sporty man. But still, these are two sides of the same coin; as power-look men wear suits that accentuate their v-shape more and more and casual-look men usually look like they are ready to get out of their leather jackets and white working t-shirts. It is a waste of time to try to analyze this as a class distinction or something else, as the power man becomes the casual man in his free time. And also another problem of the common imagery of men is that they always have expensive cars and expensive clothes. Even though some images present thin men, they present thin but still muscular men. This is a paradox: all the images we see of men around us present this type, yet the reality is completely different. And we want to live in reality.

Searching the web today, we can find tons of sites dedicated to men becoming big and macho.

Maybe you haven’t hear of the Adonis complex, which refers to various manifestations of men’s body image issues. Many men for example feel that they will be perceived as effeminate or weak. There are more and more men who suffer from BDD, or Body dysmorphic disorder, which means that they perceive a part of their body as being ugly. One variation of BDD is muscle dysmorphia, which means that a man, even though he is big and muscular still perceives himself as being too weak. These people often take illegal or weird supplements which lead not only to physical problems such as hardening of the arteries, but also to psychological ones such as maniac or violet behavior.

 

It might seem weird that we write an article about body image and how it isn’t so important while working on a blog about style and fashion. But what we want is for everyone; muscular, thin, large, wide, narrow etc to feel and look their best. You need to learn how to use the tools style provides to feel and look your best and this is what we are interested in. It’s not about your body, it’s about your attitude and what you put in the clothes!

It’s interesting how this has an equivalent for women too. Large women are seen in society as not deserving to voice an opinion or be loved. And that’s bad.

There was a joke on “30 Rock”, where Jack was cataloging “lesser beings: men with curly hair or people who need glasses”.

Of course, this is a joke and we can laugh at it, but it’s also a critique of society. Society actually does treat people who do not fit the standard as “lesser beings”.

 

The problem with men’s body image is that, besides not having alternatives, that it is not something that is talked about and moreover, there are no people militating for the democratization of men’s images. Women have celebrity spokespeople who talk about women’s body issues such as Portia de Rossi, Margaret Cho, but men don’t. It’s a silent battle for men.

Of course, there are people who prefer non-norm people, but it’s too little to be brought to the level of importance where we can speak of it as a general norm.

With this article, we just want to put in our two cents and raise a little more awareness and enlarge the group of people who care about what you do with your appearance and what your attitude and skills are, not what features you were born with and how much time you dedicate to working out and spending money.

 

Fraquoh and Franchomme

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. What do you think about the male body image today? Do you agree with what we wrote or do you feel men are under less pressure than women? Share your thoughts below!

22 Comments

  • I nominated you for the One Lovely Blogger award! Check out here.
    http://blogthebutterfly.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/a-big-thank-you-for-two-awards/

    • Reply May 15, 2013

      attireclub

      Thank you very much, we’re glad to receive your nomination!

      Best wishes!

    • Reply May 30, 2013

      Lennie

      You know i kinda thought that this was rather interesting really and can be debatable really and some of the things that you have mentioned are things that i have seen and i’m from St. Lucia so

  • Reply May 15, 2013

    Kajsa Josephine

    I find it quite fascinating that women tend to strive for an ideal shaped by women. When in fact men have other ideals.

    • Reply May 15, 2013

      attireclub

      You notice something very important. In a future article we will also address the relationship between the viewee and viewer. Who is looking at who and what do they need to see?

  • Reply May 16, 2013

    lovemonniibee

    Male body image is something the def needs to be talked about more in the media. I’ll admit that I never really though it an issues until I started living with guys.

    Oh BTW, I got the email you had send a few weeks ago. I’ve been having issues with the client and my FTP but it’s fixed now and your site is listed on Lovemonniibee.com =]

    • Reply May 16, 2013

      attireclub

      Hy!

      Thank you for sharing your comment. How did you notice the issues the guys you lived with had, since it’s such a “hidden” topic?

      And thank you very much for listing us on your blog!

      Best wishes!

  • […] Attire Club: The Two Sides Of A Coin: Men’s Body Image Considerations […]

  • Reply May 23, 2013

    anaopp

    This is very true, although I do feel there is a much bigger pressure on women to stay thin, young and pretty, men deal with body issues, too. And there’s no one to proudly declare that “curvy” men are beautiful (there isn’t even a euphemism for fat men yet!), or plus-size male models anywhere. Great post.

    • Reply May 23, 2013

      attireclub

      Thank you, it’s great that you get it! And it’s not only about “curvy men” is also about thin men who are also not taken as serious. We don’t want to get into a “what’s worse: being big or being thin as a man” thing, but that’s kind of it.

  • […] The Two Sides Of A Coin: Male Body Image Considerations […]

  • […] Attire Club: The Two Sides Of A Coin: Men’s Body Image Considerations […]

  • […] Attire Club: The Two Sides Of A Coin: Men’s Body Image Considerations […]

  • […] they are the ones we should aspire to be like. We recommend that you read our articles on Male Body Image Considerations for more info on visual requirements in […]

  • […] Attire Club: The Two Sides Of A Coin: Men’s Body Image Considerations […]

  • […] The Two Sides Of A Coin: Male Body Image Considerations […]

  • Reply June 19, 2013

    AJ

    in the gay world this is all to familiar….as a gay man who is in pretty good shape(sans the 6-pack) its quite sad being part of a community that always belittles the lesser acknowledged or the “lesser beings.” This is a great post and i commend it for being so forward in thinking about male body issues.

    • Reply June 19, 2013

      attireclub

      Thank you, it’s wonderful that you appreciate our post and see the issues we point out!

  • […] There are many reasons for which people today consider getting plastic surgery. Some claim that men (and women) who appeal to cosmetic surgeries are vain and insecure. Let’s break it down. Vanity is defined as the “Excessive pride in one’s appearance or accomplishments”, so it’s weird to accuse someone who wants to change their body of being too proud in the way they look. If they were so proud, then why would they change it? Maybe we can “accuse” (although we don’t like to accuse anyone of anything) them of wanting to be vain. Insecurity is probably a better explanation for why people get plastic surgery, but it’s not 100% satisfying either. Insecurity is seen as a fault, but it’s actually not such a big fault. We live in a culture in which the way we look matters so much, that people who do not fit the time’s beauty standards are not being taken seriously and looked down on. We wonder how can you not be insecure when people treat you badly before you even get to open your mouth? Also the, let’s call it hypocrisy of our time is something that hurts people really bad. The fact that we judge people by the way they look when claiming all we care about is intellect and talent is common. It’s like pulling a something on both ends, it’s exhausting and senseless. People who feel that way want to clear something out, they want to pull on just one end and give their existence a direction. There are really clear standards of what men and women are supposed to look like, so convincing someone that weak is beautiful for a man is not a battle that needs to picked on now. To read more on the issue, you can read our article “Two Sides Of A Coin: Male Body Image Considerations“. […]

  • […] Men’s Body Image Considerations […]

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