The Beauty Industry: Men’s body positivity


Graphic courtesy of Shraddha Sriram

According to a survey of over 2000 men conducted by the Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom and the Nation Eating Disorder Association States, approximately 0.1% of men will have anorexia nervosa at any given time. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes the person to have a distorted image of their body weight, men are at a higher risk of dying from the condition. On top of that, a 2021 survey by the Campaign Against Living Miserably from the UK found that 58% of males claimed the epidemic had badly impacted how they felt about their bodies, and 48% of men had suffered with body image. Social media influences men’s body image through depictions of the ideal guy. They suffer the consequences of having a negative body image, such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety. 

It is no surprise that specific body types are preferred in the media and in everyday life. FHS school-based therapist Sharon Dariano states that she deals with young men who come to her having issues about having a negative body image almost daily. 

“They see the magazines ,the kind of guys that girls like on TV, and they see it’s not them,” Dariano said.

The lack of men’s body representation in the media causes large amounts of anxiety. As many boys are portrayed as being strong and taught to hold in their emotions, this connects to fragile masculinity, making men think they have to be a certain way to meet those standards. It is crucial to understand that men, like women, have many sides that go far beyond the typical duties of their gender rather than categorizing them as good or bad, tough or weak, etc. It causes them to hide their emotions and makes them hesitant to ask for help. The media lacks words of encouragement for men who feel insecure about themselves, making them feel as if they do not have anyone to talk to. This can often feed into unhealthy eating habits such as under-eating — making yourself think by skipping a couple meals some days, you will have a better physical regimen. These habits go so far that many cannot differentiate healthy and unhealthy eating. 

It is expected that many of us will experience body image issues at some point in our lives, but there are actions we can take at a young age to ensure otherwise. We must keep in mind that body image problems can affect all genders, even though women’s body issues are most commonly discussed. Adults should teach children to love their body for what it is, and inform them about the changes their body will go through as they grow up. Remember, not everything you see in the media portrays what is really going on in real life  and to focus on valuable characteristics other than appearances, 

“So a lot of times, when you are looking at body image, you are looking at these images on TV,” Dariano said. “But if you actually look around your own classroom, or look around your own environment, you see a lot of diversity. They all have friends. They all have families that love them, they all are being accepted.”