Shattered Images

While the concept of body positivity is dominated by women, it is forgotten that men also suffer body image issues just as much.


There are 7.53 billion people in the world; no two people are exactly the same in appearance, intelligence, or any other way. By far, the most controversial difference between people is their appearance. Although some distinct features stay consistent across racial, familial and cultural barriers, nothing transfers directly from person to person. People’s weight, skin tone, hair color, height and body type all come together to make a unique combination. The dissimilarities between people can result in amazing things: culture, debates, new schools of thought. They can also have detrimental effects: hatred, prejudice, war.

These differences have resulted in large scale discrimination and insecurity. People are bullied, attacked, and idealized depending on their appearances. The “ideal male body”  is pushed on men in almost every aspect of their daily lives. Regardless of age, genetics or personal preference, everyone is expected to fit into what society labels acceptable. Men are supposed to be athletic, tall and muscular; these qualities make them “manly.”  Traits such as acne or crooked teeth or an elongated nose are not to be tolerated.  When people naturally deviate from the perpetuated image, they are met with hostility.

Majority of people prefer to see a man who clearly works out on the front of a magazine cover, rather than an average looking man. Though this may not be fair, it is the way it is. Magazines know that if they use a male model who is very fit, more people will be interested in their product.

Violence, harassment and general hostility are the common and expected responses towards people of unique body types. Body discrimination doesn’t always include violence, it can happen in small anticlimactic ways as well. It can be anything from being picked last for a sport team, to small “jokes” muttered throughout the day. Body image plays a large role on people’s inclusion in social or general opportunities.

“People can miss out on a lot of social opportunities,” junior Luke Menzies said. “If someone doesn’t look the same as everyone else or if they’re not average, sometimes they may not be included.”

Appearance affects the way that people are treated on a daily basis. Boys are taken more seriously, face better opportunities, and given more leniency if they are able to fit into the ideal male image. In society there is an overlaying subconscious acceptance of attractive people. When people walk through crowds, interview for jobs, or socialize with new people their appearance is seen first; when the way they look fits the societal expectations they are immediately advantaged. These expectations and consequential exclusions result in widespread insecurity.

you’re constantly getting ragged on, you’re not going to be able to operate efficiently,” senior Matthew Becker said.

Boys who face constant hostility because of their appearance also face their own mental barriers. Negativity and harassment lead to insecurity which then leads to reluctance. People who don’t feel comfortable with themselves lose the motivation to keep trying.

The recent push of positivity and confidence onto social media has made an attempt to battle against the societal negativity. Types of body positivity in media range of extensive media campaigns to Twitter’s obsession with “dad bods.” Representation of every body has been the main focus of many companies and individuals within the body positivity movement for years, and the representation is starting to reach boys.

“I think everyone’s body type should be treated the same and [we should] not only focus on someone who’s all buff and fit,” sophomore Sergio Loginos said.

Boys’ credibility is put into question based on the way they look. Appearance changes the way countless other factors are judged: intelligence, ability, personality. The crossing of physical and mental expectations results in inconsistency. Abilities aren’t dependent on their appearances. The appearance of a person carries stereotypes. It’s easy to imagine that everybody fits into a category and every aspect of them fits into that category.

People are capable of more than the connotations that come with the stereotype of their appearance. The way someone looks doesn’t dictate the entirety of who they are. People are more than their bodies. Allowing people to be only what society expects them to be closes doors that could have resulted in unprecedented innovation. Athletic boys can be smart, lanky boys can be strong and short boys can be good at sports.

When it comes to the idea of body positivity, many men shy away from the importance of male representation because it is thought it makes them sensitive. Since it has gained popularity, the body positivity movement has been largely dominated by women. This fact, paired with the societal ideals about men, makes most boys disregard the idea of positive reinforcement of their appearance.

“Most of the time for men it’s just ‘don’t be unhealthy,’” Becker said.

The main purpose of the body positivity movement differs depending on who you ask. For some, it is a movement dedicated to rooting out the negativity and malice against bodies in society. For others, it creates a discussion about health and standards.

“More guys should be aware of themselves and be aware of what they can do to better themselves,” said Becker.

For Becker and like minded individuals body positivity is the ideal platform for self assessment and improvement. Everyone takes away something different from the movement.

“I feel free,” Menzies said. “I let people judge me because that’s their opinion. It’s not what I see myself.”

Body positivity is something the world focuses on and puts it on a grand scale. Very few people have truly talked about the way males view their body types. Society has been trained to think that the ideal body type has to be muscular while maintaining a flat stomach. On the cover of many health magazines, there are models who are toned and clearly look like they work out often.

The attempts in recent years to show positive representation for every body type has made great strides to combat the dangerous societal expectations held to boys. However, the negative sentiment still lingers. In order to fully get rid of the negativity everyone could make more conscious choices towards individual and peer body image.