Body image is usually discussed in relation to women, and for good reason. Women’s bodies are constantly treated as objects by the media, and even by many men and women in everyday life. But men are not immune to self-consciousness about their bodies. A 2014 study found that about one in five adolescent boys were highly concerned about their bodies, and we can expect this to carry into adulthood for many. Since negative body image can impact mental and physical wellbeing, sexual health and even penis health, it’s important to be aware of the common concerns men have and to identify them in oneself if they are present. Working toward a better relationship with one’s body makes for a more fulfilling life.
Weight is something men and women with body image issues tend to fixate on. Now, it’s true that some people are unhealthily overweight, and this is something to be concerned about; however, extra weight does not necessarily make a person unattractive, disgusting, lazy or any of the other negative labels modern culture tends to put on bigger people. If a man is concerned about his weight, he should consider whether it’s actually a health problem or if he’s just been comparing himself to chiseled, V-shaped male models. The latter have rare body types and spend a whole lot of time maintaining them, and most men shouldn’t expect to look like that.
If a man (preferably along with medical professionals) determines that his weight is a problem from a health standpoint, he would do well to adopt better eating habits and an exercise regimen. But he doesn’t need to hate his body wherever it’s at now. He can feel good about treating it well, and cultivate an appreciation for the many things it can do as it is already.
Modern culture, and others throughout history, have forged a strong connection between masculinity and musculature. “Real men” are strong; “real men” pump iron; “real men” are chiseled. This can cause body image issues in a wide range of men, from those on the thin side to those who are bigger without the brawn to even those who work out at the gym and have a muscular physique.
Muscles are good things to have. They help people perform physical feats and acquire stamina with which to perform tasks longer. So if a man wants to do bodyweight, free weight or machine exercise to gain muscle, more power to him. But let’s do everyone a favor and stop pretending that a man’s muscle mass says anything about his gender identity, sexuality, personality or character.