Social Media & Men's Body Image

Our section has covered female body image and beauty standards in depth, but do men face similar struggles?

Joseph Caddick
21st March 2022
Image: Instagram @jocomnh

Social media has come under a lot of criticism in recent years for perpetuating harmful stereotypes of beauty. This criticism is extremely valid and unfortunately affects a lot of people, putting pressure on them to attain the ‘perfect’ bodies.

Men’s mental health is an issue that is often not talked about, particularly by men. There is an expectation that we should just ‘suck it up’ and deal with any problems that come our way, which is an outdated and frankly toxic ideology. The case where this can be most prominently seen is with men who are concerned about their body image.

If you are the type of person who browses the social media accounts of celebrities, you are often exposed to the sort of body types that can, for most people, only be attained if you have access to a lot of money; personal trainers, nutritionists and protein supplements are not cheap. Not only that, but a number of celebrities have admitted to taking steroids, which can create muscles that are simply unobtainable without the use of drugs.

In addition to social media, the introduction of influencer culture to TV and more traditional forms of media has accelerated growing body image struggles. Shows like Love Island are problematic for both men and women, as many contestants have generally gone through some form of cosmetic procedures prior to entering the villa, be it veneers, botox or anything else.

TV screens and social media feeds are constantly portraying unrealistic beauty standards, it's hard to escape our insecurities

Because our TV screens and social media feeds are portraying unrealistic beauty standards almost constantly, it’s hard to escape any insecurities we may have about ourselves. Sadly, it is of no surprise that the number of young people undergoing cosmetic surgery and taking steroids is reportedly on the rise, according to Save Face and UK Anti-Doping respectively. A dangerous precedent is being set.

I’ve struggled with body confidence issues myself, especially in the past couple of years. Going to the gym is a competition where I have to outdo my previous performance, otherwise I feel as if I’m letting myself down. Consequently, I injured myself and have had to take time off exercising, during which I’ve gained weight. It’s a very vicious cycle, and one that it is difficult to defeat, because setbacks like this only make you feel worse about yourself.

Perhaps more subtle than the issues with muscles is that of height. I’m of average height myself, slightly on the smaller side if anything, but you always see and hear of who are above six feet tall, with celebrities who aren’t that tall being described as surprising. This issue is difficult, because although you can work to improve your muscles, if you’re small then you’re small, you can’t change it. If anything, that makes it easier for me to accept this, but it is another case of people being made to feel inadequate about themselves because of their appearance.

We have to remind ourselves that it's what's on the inside that counts

It is important to remember that although many of us are often concerned about how we look on the outside, it is important to be kind to ourselves . We have to remind ourselves that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

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