The Male Perspective
June 14, 2021
“I got lucky in terms of height and other stereotypical male characteristics, but, like everyone, still find things that seem inadequate compared to others,” an anonymous Liberty student said.
The issue of body image impacts the lives of men and women alike; the pressure to look a certain way is experienced in all circles and all genders. However, the focus is typically shifted away from the male perspective despite it being no less valid than its counterpart.
“Although it’s less obvious, the pressure for guys to achieve the ‘ideal body’ still exists,” Liberty PE teacher and football coach Brad Anderson said. “The biggest aspect is needing to be muscular with a six-pack. But if a six-pack is your goal, then realistically, you’re going to fail, which can really bring down your self-esteem.”
This pressure to be physically fit–whether it’s having toned abs, arms, and legs or losing weight,–makes many guys feel like their level of fitness isn’t enough; it’s as though they simply aren’t able to keep up. Whether it’s social media, television, or artwork, the media has worsened the pressure to have a perfect body by presenting and advertising unrealistic standards.
“Essentially, the portrayal of men in the media consists of massive, Chris Evans-looking guys: 6′ 4″, heavily muscled, and perfect hair,” an anonymous male Liberty student said. “Becoming muscular is portrayed as an easy, trivial thing, and if you’re not that buff, it’s because you’re lazy.”
Even without the expectations given by celebrities, the body issues faced by men are very real. Sadly, it can be hard to find support due to the stigma of men expressing emotions and fears.
“I’ve noticed that boys at Liberty suffer from body image just as much as girls, but they tend to hold them in more than girls do,” junior Stephen Chen said.
Chen is not alone in recognizing that pattern. The pressure to keep emotions to themselves makes it difficult for guys to speak up about the issues they are dealing with, and Anderson notices that.
“It might not be a popular topic of conversation within guys’ circles, but I know they look at themselves and are not happy with what they see,” Anderson said.
It might not be a popular topic of conversation within guys’ circles, but I know they look at themselves and are not happy with what they see.”
— Brad Anderson
Now, there certainly is a reason why society focuses on the female perspective more. Women are expected to be “emotional” by sharing their feelings with each other. Through this, their struggles with body image are more easily accessible.
Does this mean one side’s battles are any less credible?
Not in the slightest. They’re simply different, and that can make it a little harder for communication across gender-constructed barriers.
“Guys have no shortage of things to worry about,” an anonymous male Liberty student said. “However, when they do worry they don’t feel their entire self-worth is on the line the way girls are pressured to.”