Why Body Positivity for Men is so Important
By Brielle Sparacino
It’s no secret that women have been made to feel insecure about their bodies since the birth of advertising, but luckily, things have begun to look up for us in the recent years. Various clothing and lingerie lines have started featuring untouched models in their campaigns, and many plus-sized women in the entertainment industry (Melissa McCarthy, Gabourey Sidibe, etc.) have shut down fat-shamers while endorsing body positivity for all.
While it’s amazing that women have been as successful as they have with endorsing self-love and helping others to love themselves and their bodies, endorsing body positivity in men is something that is rarely spoken about, yet it’s just as important.
Men are attractive; there’s no doubt about it. Coming from a woman’s perspective, I can tell you that we talk about men a lot of the time.
Usually, we’ll discuss how confusing they are while simultaneously talking about how cute they are.
Although most of the boys I’ve met are pretty confident with themselves and their appearance, not every boy is as secure with their body image as they’d like others to believe.
The reason for that might be because everywhere you look online and on social media, you see half-naked male models or celebrities (whether they’re on Instagram or in a fashion catalog) in the fittest shape of their lives.
Women want to be with them and men want to be them. The sad thing is, however, that male celebrities are photoshopped just as much as female celebrities.
Just like female celebrities are photoshopped to have soft yet elegant features and small, toned bodies, men are photoshopped to look tougher and more chiseled.
Therefore, like most females, many male readers and viewers tend to feel more intimidated by the images they see in their daily lives because there is not enough representation of the average male body in the media.
Thankfully, the male modeling industry has had a bit of a breakthrough in the last month.
IMG models has recently signed Zach Miko as their first plus-sized male model. Currently standing at 6’6, the Stratford, Connecticut native is part of IMG models’ new campaign which is being introduced as “Brawn”; the clothing division for big and tall men.
Aerie, which is the lingerie branch of American Eagle, recently debuted their #AerieMAN campaign on April first, raising awareness about body positivity and body acceptance in men.
While the campaign has generated lots of positive feedback on the internet over the weekend, it turns out that the campaign was merely an April Fools’ joke.
Not only were the people of the internet outraged about the campaign being a hoax, but in a recent press release, Chad Kessler, the American Eagle Outfitters Global Brand President, regarded the campaign as a stab at humor for the company’s male clientele. In his full comment, he states: “We aren’t afraid of being bold in how we engage our customers, whether through a video that makes you think twice, or challenging the norm in how a brand markets to men”…”We are an all-inclusive brand and we know our male customers respond to humor. We look forward to continuing to innovate and evolve the American Eagle Outfitters product offerings.”
Dissing men’s body acceptance as a joke is cruel, in all honesty. Many men hit the gym to aid in living a healthier lifestyle or to keep in shape for a certain sport. For instance, Vincent Dacunto is a junior at CSI, as well as a member of CSI’s Men’s Basketball team.
“I feel like it’s important to take care of my body all year round in order to be ready for the season,” says Dacunto. “The reason I try to stay fit is because I feel like it keeps me going and [keeps me] healthy.” However, not all men enjoy participating in sports, nor do all men have time to fit a trip to the gym in their daily schedules.
Just because a man doesn’t have six-pack abs or super toned biceps doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be represented in mainstream media.
Like women, men are capable of having feelings, even if most of them choose not to show it. In fact, according to a report from attn.com, “a 2014 study reported by the Atlantic found that 18 percent of boys are highly concerned about their weight and physique. The report also found that young men affected by a negative perception of their body image are more likely to be depressed and engage in “high risk behaviors such as binge drinking and drug use”.”
The bottom line is; boys need love too. Men are forced to conform to their gender norm; they are taught that they need to be strong and confident all of the time. However, like women, men come in all shapes and sizes.
They’re also capable of feeling insecure and unaccepting of themselves, but if we are able to encourage body acceptance in men like women have done, the world would probably be a much more loving place.