Body Image: problematic beauty standards, not just an issue for girls and women

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Body Image: problematic beauty standards, not just an issue for girls and women

Bryan Banuelos, Spanish Editor

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Many simply don’t mention it. Do boys have issues with their body image? Maybe, if you are a girl, you might be wondering if this is a thing that affects boys. If you are a guy, you most likely could be realizing just now you are not the only boy at school that may struggle with how his body looks.

Body image has experienced a strange evolution from a taboo to society becoming more open about intimate issues and personal conceptions. A negative body image itself promotes similar consequences for both males and females. But body image in women has, in some ways, taken the spotlight from men who experience this issue with their bodies as well.

“If you think about the changes over the last 30 to 45 years in how men are depicted in Hollywood, cartoons, magazines and action toys, you’ll see that men’s bodies [today] appear much more muscular,” says Dr. Harrison Pope, director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts.

According to a survey done in 2016 among males from eight to 18 years old, 68% feel that friends are the biggest source of pressure to look good. 23% believe there is such thing as a perfect male body.

When you tell a boy he is “overweight”, or point out to the fact that a guy does not have defined abdominal muscles, many opt to ignore these comments or laugh them off. It is very common among male groups to point out at certain physical features in another male, and expect him to not take it personal.  Many males often question themselves because of this underrepresented issues.

Even when females are over and constantly sexualized in public, male body image is sometimes left out of this equation. Chase Chesley, a senior at Taylorsville High, said: “I think females are a lot more sexualized and publicized. It’s a lot more prominent in our media”. Mr. Negley, English teacher at Taylorsville High, said: “I think that women are objectified [by males] way more often”. Males, however, are also constantly presented with an “ideal” body type for their own gender. A slim-muscular physique, attractive skin tone, typically tall, and with facial features aiming at blue eyes, well-groomed beard and square face are the characteristics that are thought to appeal the most.

According to different studies, however, men tend to be more confident about their physique and looks. “The biggest difference between males and females is that males have more confidence and don’t look at others to determine what their body image should be. They just look at themselves one day and ask themselves ‘Is this where I want to be?’ instead of basing themselves off of others,” said Chesley.

Nonetheless, even when body weight may be the most commonly overthought component of the physique when it comes to body image, there is still a wide range of characteristics with which many males may not feel completely comfortable. “There’s a sense that one wants to be attractive to whom one is attracted to”, said Mr. Negley.

“I think the typical misconception [they have] is that males are looking for just a muscular body type with abs when it can be anything from facial features to different parts and aspects of the body. It doesn’t just come down to muscularity,” said Chase Chesley.

A change in body image can be as simple as weight loss, muscle mass gain, a new haircut or even switching to contact lenses. It is always good to adventure into something new, even more when it involves rediscovering one’s body. It is important, however, to realize that starting a new change in your own body image should only be influenced by your own desire, motivations and limits. Not every boy will have the same metabolism, the time to go the gym, the same blue eyes, or skin tone. Whether you have a charming smile or are already prone to a muscular body, take advantage of those characteristics and give them a twist of singularity. Make that stunning new haircut only yours, and use it to feel complete and in synchrony with your own body image.

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