Men and Body Image

Posted on October 16, 2018

Over the years, body-positive campaigns have been on the rise, it is becoming more commonly discussed around the world. Body-positive movements as such aim to encourage respect for all body types, regardless of shape, size, age, weight, sexual orientation, race, gender or physical capabilities. Negative body image is perceived to be more common among the female population, while society naturally places heavier emphasis on physical appearance standards on women than men. Hence there is often a higher emphasis placed on showing respect and appreciation for the female body image as compared to that of men’s.

However, we should not forget that it is also possible for men to feel insecure about their body image, even though it might only be a handful of them. there are still certain appearance standards in our society today reflected on various media platforms displaying the ‘ideal body image’ of men as muscular and fit, affecting men’s confidence about their bodies. Hence, there should also be efforts made to encourage positive body image in men and more research done on men’s body image.

A research done on men’s perception towards their body image shows that men with a more positive perception about their body image, possess better well-being as compared to men with less positive perception about their bodies. Men with a more positive outlook towards their body image were found to be more physically active, lower tendencies of developing eating disorders and being less likely to compare their appearances with that of other men. Comparing appearances is a major influence on having a negative perception towards one’s body image and the development of eating disorders.

In terms of sexual orientation, heterosexual men tend to have a more positive outlook on their body image in general as compared to men in the minority sexual orientation. The link between sexual orientation and positive body image was supported by appearance comparisons and how much men conform to society’s standards of the ‘ideal body image’ of a man. Men under the minority sexual orientation tend to compare their appearances and strive to achieve the social construct of the ‘ideal male body image’ more than heterosexual men, hence having a more negative outlook of their body image.

Feeling good about one’s own body is associated with having better well-being. One of the reasons to men under the sexual minority feeling less positively about their body image, is due to them living in a culture where the importance of appearance is more highly emphasized. For example, gay male media more frequently portrays unrealistically muscular and fit-looking men, while male partners often value their partner’s appearances much more highly. These factors lead to men’s tendencies to compare their appearances to other men and feel the need to live up to unrealistic expectations of society’s ‘ideal body image’.

It is essential to explore the differences between sexual minorities rather than generalizing them as a whole since the difference in sexual orientation might mean different behaviors and attitudes to consider with relation to the dynamics of the relationships.

Category(s):Adult psychological development, Health Psychology, Men's Issues, Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem

Source material from Psychology Today

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