Just wondering if anyone is going to watch/is watching/has watched The Project tonight - there's an episode about guys and body image. It will probably be up here somewhere by tomorrow: http://theprojecttv.com.au/top-stories.htm.
Body image is an incredibly important issue, because it can make you feel so bad and worthless to think that you are not what the media dictates you must be. Evidently, body images problems and related disorders are more prevalent in girls, who have to struggle with greater social pressure over their appearance, but it's an often-overlooked fact that guys can struggle with it too.
I am a guy, and I have been grappling with my body image for a while now. It can be difficult to comprehend that looks aren't everything, and it's also really hard to overcome the whole 'are you a real man?' machismo madness that surrounds the ideal male body - the whole concept of not being adequate if you don't have big muscles. I have peers who go a long way to try and meet these criteria, and while I always took the 'Well, why would you?' attitude, I had this big internal conflict between the notion of thinking it was silly and then secretly wanting to look like that too.
It's taken me a while, but I'm now comfortable in my own skin. I'm not the fittest guy, nor the muscliest, but I have accepted and become happy with who I am. I don't want to make my life about my appearance, and that helped me to make the decision to overcome my scruples. It was never anything serious for me, and I certainly don't want to demean the horrible things that other people have suffered because of their body image, but I thought I'd share my little story with you. Please tell us your stories and ideas about body image - I'd love to hear them!
Re: Body Image
I think it's definitely important to high light that guys struggle with body image too and it's not only an issue that faces females. Both can feel that pressure to have the 'perfect' body and that they must have good looks.
I don't usually watch The Project but it's great that there was a segment about the issue.
Glad to hear that you are now comfortable with your own body image
Re: Body Image
It's definitely important to realise that guys can have issues with body image as well as girls. Like you say @CatsAreCool2 looks aren't everthing. Personality is so much more important! When I was about 15 I had low self-esteem and my body image was very distorted - I couldn't see what other people saw. Even now I struggle a little with it but I'm getting much better. Most days I can see the bigger picture and don't get so caught up in the little things. I also try to be more positive with my thoughts around my body because what you tell yourself makes such a difference in how you see yourself.
Re: Body Image
I was having myself a big think about body image as I fell asleep last night, and the following will be a garbled mashup of my conclusions.
Firstly, I think body image is such a big issue because it can have such a big effect on anyone. But beyond that, I was thinking about who it affected most, and I came to the conclusion that if you were to put popularity on a spectrum, the people who experience the most severe troubles with body image would be found at either end - people who are very popular, and people who are ostracised by their peer groups.
That might seem a little bit nonsensical, so I'll explain my logic. It affects both of these groups strongly, and (as we've discussed ) regardless of gender, it affects them in different ways.
Popular people are those on whom the most social pressure is placed. They are the ones who other people look to as ideal, and even within their often competitive social circles there is pressure to look the part, often to the point of extremes. Because there is so much expectation, people who are popular can feel insecure in their own body image because it is subject to high levels of scrutiny. This can be seen in popular guys, who feel pressured to maintain a fit, toned body to the point of manorexia, and in popular girls, who can develop eating disorders due to insecurity about their own weight.
Conversely, people who are subject to ostracism often feel inadequate, and start to examine themselves for reasons that they are not accepted by their peers. Often, they can form warped senses of their own appearance, and feel as if they have an undesirable body. This phenomenon is intensified when these people also must deal with a desire to be one of the 'in crowd' - to have the stereotypical good looks and fit body of a popular person. This feeling of inadequacy in their own body image, although wholly unwarranted, often drives people to extremes.
In saying this, I don't mean to dismiss the problems of everyone who falls in between, or say that these problems don't exist, but people in the middle of the spectrum tend to have friend groups who are larger than those of people who struggle socially, and less competitive and more supportive than those of popular people. I also know that these last few paragraphs are generalisations of the highest degree, and that it is really unfair to categorise people based on popularity, but the reason I've done that is to then draw from these generalisations some ways of helping people who do struggle with body image.
So basically the problems above stem from two misconceptions on behalf of the sufferer - firstly, that there is something wrong with their body, and secondly, that their body is the only thing that matters about them. I was going to write more about how to help people with their misconceptions about their own body, but I just forgot everything so I will end with a question:
How do you help people with body image issues overcome these issues, assuming they come from the two problems detailed above?
P.S. I understand parts of this post come across as insensitive and stereotyping, so feel free to ask me to edit or delete as you see fit
P.P.S. Thanks Cassie
Re: Body Image
That is a really interesting theory. And it makes sense to me. Don't worry about the generalisations and stereotypes. I think that's what most people do - it makes life easier albeit is sometimes wrong and judgemental but you were trying to make people understand your point there. I do agree however, I think most people (I'll refrain from saying all though I think all would be quite accurate) suffer body image issues of varying degrees, despite their position on thee hierarchical social ladder. Personally, I would fit myself in the somewhere in between section but I believe I have the worst self-esteem issues.
In terms of how we can help those on differing ends of the spectrum, I think so many commonalities come about when people from different social backgrounds who don't usually find themselves talking to one another, engage in conversation. Whether it be in a workshop or a chance encounter. People find they undergo the same problems. That's the thing. We shouldn't assume the smartest, coolest, most popular people lead perfect lives. Everyone has their own problems and we shouldn't be too fast to make assumptions.
Re: Body Image
Body image is definitely one of the challenges I experienced. It was a pretty simple problem that I eventually overcame or think I've overcome. When I went to the beach I wouldn't ever take my shirt off to swim because I didn't think I "had a good body" which sounds so wrong now that I've actually writing this beecause there is no such thing as a 'good' body. I guess in my head you see all those images of "ideal bodies" which equates to "healthy bodies" which is what bodies should be like. Now I'm all confused. Anyways, a few months ago the family went on a holiday kinda far away and I kept telling myself that it's fine and doesn't matter these random people won't even remember you which helped me be more comfortable if that makes any sense at all. Well that was my mini experience.
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