What about male bodies?

Women have always been under more pressure in terms of beauty standards than men. In the last few years, social media has spread a lot of support for the different shapes and sizes women have. This body positivity movement sure is important, but what about men?

Story by Nicky Mai

While the body positivity movement tends to focus on women, men also struggle with body image. Many men are reluctant to speak about their inse- curities. They are used to not sharing their feelings with the world and more used to suppress.

Maurits Campman, a Computer Science student, says it is taboo for men to speak up about their struggles. He explains: “Men are expected to be less emotional than women and not feel shitty about their looks. It’s not okay to joke about a woman’s appearance, but when the same joke is made to me, it’s expected that I just laugh it off.”

Body image issues amongst men can start early. A study from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children has shown that around 25% of male adolescents were worried about their bodies, wan- ting more toned and defined muscles. Moreover, approximately 30% of high school-aged males expressed a desire to gain weight to appear more muscular.

Milo Verhaar, a 19-year-old Creative Business student, also struggles sometimes with his own body image. “There will always be something thatpeople are not happy about when talking about their own body”, Milo says. Because of social me- dia platforms and other online platforms, people get influenced by it very fast, and will create a feeling of jealousy towards these people, and are sad about themselves, he thinks.

Male fitness influencers, who portray a body that is completely unrealistic for most people, are often on some type of steroids, says Marcus de Kronnie, a 22-year-old competitive powerlifter. “Men can get body dysmorphia by seeing all these fitness influen- cers who claim to be natural”, he fears. “People believe those fake naturals and think that they can achieve a body like that by just training. They train for something that they will never be able to get.”

Men, just like women, face unrealistic beauty standards. However, they are still expected to stay quiet about their insecurities. When asked what could be done about this, Milo answers: “Men should not be scared to talk about their insecurities. We’ve come a long way to finally recognize women with different kinds of bodies. Now it is time to do so with men as well.”