What even is "Body Positivity"?
Body Positivity is referred to as a belief that all human beings should have a positive body image as well as should argue the stereotypes society has imposed on us, based on our bodies, over the years.
The body positivity movement, ever since it began, focused largely on women and helping them gain confidence about their bodies, because it is believed societal beauty standards are imposed more on women than men. Men, however, too face a lot of pressure imposed on them by society just to stress on the idea of ‘masculinity’.
Why is Body Positivity important?
Over the years, these stereotypes associated with our bodies that are thrust upon us create self-doubt and insecurities for most of us.
The worst part of it is that it affected a lot of people during their growing years, thereby leading to mental health issues.
In recent years, social media also has played a major role in making people doubt themselves as it showcases them based on their appearance solely.
Social media has turned into a platform to compete and compare.
Body positivity is important so that one not only loves their body in the shape, size, and colour it is, but also accepts the fact that they have a lot more to offer than just a body.
It works around encouraging self-acceptance and respect, regardless of one’s physical appearance.
Body image has a major influence on one’s mental health too, which in turn affects every aspect of an individual’s life. In addition to that, body dissatisfaction may also lead to low self-esteem issues and eating disorders.
Hence, it is especially important that one comes out of this comparison and competition and understands the idea of self-acceptance and body positivity.
Why is Body Positivity important for Men?
Body dissatisfaction can start at an incredibly young age, and tends to affect everyone, irrespective of their gender.
Feeling masculine or manly is part of a majority of men’s identities even in 2018.
In a nationwide survey of 1,615 adults who identify as men, 60% of men agreed that society puts pressure on men in a way that is unhealthy or bad. And the younger a man was, the more likely he was to believe that.
The survey also asked men about their persistent worries. Most men said they had some daily concerns, weight and finances chief among them.
Often, masculinity is synonymous with not being vocal about one’s feelings, which is why boys and men choose to not express their emotions, be it bullying or self-doubt.
Through social media too, the constant pressure to maintain a certain physique, height, body hair, weight has always been imposed on men, whether it may be through subliminal remarks, memes, or general comparisons with ‘idolised figures.’
A lot of men get judged based on how their beard looks or whether they have any. The idea of masculinity has also been associated with ‘beards’ over the years and someone who is clean-shaven is often remarked or referred to as effeminate.
This, of course, leads to a lot of body image issues making men conscious about their own selves alongside being unable to speak up about their emotions because that is what they are made to believe from the beginning - Men/boys do not talk about their feelings, let alone cry.
Lastly, we all talk about societal standards but often tend to forget the most pertinent fact “who comprises of a society? Who makes these societal standards?” It is us. We contribute to these stereotypes and it is only us, who can ensure it does not stay the same for ours and the future generations.
Which is why promoting body positivity is so very essential, and not just for women but both men and women. Understanding why one should love their body just the way it is and realising that we have a lot more to offer than our body is particularly important. A positive outlook and body positivity will also, in turn, lead to better mental health for all!
“Short girls are for tall guys and tall girls are also for short guys, short guys can have each other” or phrases like, “Only 6ft tall guys are attractive”, “Tall, dark, and handsome” are some examples that put across the ideology that only tall men are attractive.
Most often men either pretend to or are ‘expected to’ not care about these statements and memes and pretend to take it in a lighter vein. Because the minute a ‘man’ expresses his displeasure or emotions with respect to something so petty, according to the society, he is regarded as weak.
After all, a masculine person should not express his emotions or feel any for that matter. Keeping in mind the stigma attached to men ‘opening up’, a lot of body image issues that men face go unnoticed.
Whether it is the endless number of memes on social media, or phrases like, ‘Women don’t like skinny men”, “Be careful, you might get blown away”, “You look like a matchstick”, all lead to creating this toxic image around what a perfect body for a man must look like.
Overweight, or underweight - both have been reasons for men to have major self-esteem issues; reasons for being bullied, or reasons to have mental health issues.
The same applies for those who are fat-shamed, bullied for being fat, or having to doubt themselves because they don't look like the men with perfect yet unrealistic bodies in the movies.
Social media along with the idea of what ‘masculine’ means has made enough men doubt themselves, as well as given many a people the confidence to think that they have a say on everyone’s body image.
This has often led men to find themselves stuck in the midst of pretending not to care because ‘toxic masculinity’ doesn’t allow you to, or to doubt themselves so much that they might end up starving themselves or eating unhealthy. Of course, being fit is very essential, but only so because it affects your health.
However, nowhere does this mean that one should have the ‘unrealistic’ body type that most of social media and movies advocate. Most people work on fitness to attain the ‘bulk body’ that they see across social media which is also identified as ‘perfect’.
Hence, the importance of body positivity, for people to realise the difference between fit and perfect according to societal standards and for people to understand and accept their body image.
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