So, I just mentioned less than an hour ago on my Facebook page that I had intentions of writing about male body confidence at some point, so, why not now? Bits and pieces of thoughts for this post have been swirling about in my brain since long before I even thought I'd ever start blogging. I feel it's a very present issue, but you almost never hear about it. Why?
Whenever I bring up the issue with Mr. BF (who, unlike some other men I've known, is comfortable in just a pair of swim shorts in public), he says that nobody cares, and men are just expected to "suck it up", as they are with many other things such as emotional instability, stress, and depression, which I believe can often and easily have at least partial roots in poor body confidence.
While Mr. BF seems adequately comfortable with his body, I know and have known men who are not. I'd like to spend some time just listing examples. My dad, from whom I learned a lot of my bad eating habits, never once went swimming with me (on a related note, my mom just bought the first swimsuit in which I've ever seen her just last year). Growing up, neither of my parents even owned a swimsuit, so I never saw my dad in one (and never will as he's no longer with us) and just recently saw my mom in one for the first time. Was my dad never swimming a matter of body confidence? Well, since it's impossible to ask him, perhaps it will help to analyze his typical attire, day in, day out. His entire wardrobe consisted of baggy sweat pants, baggy tees with one pocket on the upper left side (seriously, all of his tees were like this), his school bus driving uniform, and one pair of dress pants and an awful button up shirt which I always considered to be a real eyesore. Does this serve as any indication of how he felt about himself? I really don't know. I think I shall move on now, as I doubt my fixating on a departed family member is really something anyone wants to read about. So, on to another example. Some years ago, when I was young(er) and (more) naïve, I fell quite hard for a lovely boy whom I'd met over the internet. One thing (among quite a few others which I won't mention here and now) which bothered me about him was his incredibly low self esteem. He hated the way he looked, which perplexed me at the time, as he was about the most attractive creature 14 year old me had ever laid eyes upon. He was a little chubby, and he obsessed over this. He wanted to be all big and muscular (which, funnily enough, isn't really something I've ever found attractive). He also suffered badly from what's widely known as penis envy, which I have no trouble relating to boob size complexes. I honestly always thought it was an odd thing to care about, as it's less visible than boob size, but, we all have our insecurities, some more than others, and some more common than others. Anyway, he was the first of a string of chubby online love interests, all of whom suffered from poor body confidence. Of course, just like women, it's not just chubby men who suffer from not liking their appearances. In the time I've spent talking to strangers on the internet, I've also talked to a few thin guys who didn't like their bodies, they felt scrawny, like there was no substance to them, there were guys who would binge eat multiple times a day in an attempt to put on some weight. Some actually gave their size insecurity as a reason why they would never want to date a bigger lady. Heck, back to the topic of penis envy, I even once talked to a guy who was bothered by how "well hung" he was. He felt like a freak. Busty ladies, does this sound at all familiar? Anyway, a couple more specific examples. I'm a part of the Katawa Shoujo fanbase. Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel made by members of an online forum which is notorious for being all kinds of strange. So, uhm, geez, where was I going with this...? Oh, yes! I meant to talk about some of my fellow KS lovers! So, I coadmin a page on Facebook based upon one of the characters from KS, and one of my three coadmins on there, who I'll admit, I think is pretty sexy (oh, shush) feels as though he needs to hit the gym from time to time so he doesn't look like "a sack of shit". When he posted such the thought, it sparked a bit of a conversation on health, body confidence, etc, which I thought was a great conversation to be had. There is another KS fan with whom I converse regularly who, when we first began to talk, wasn't terribly comfortable with his body, but gradually, as we talked, he realized that a few extra pounds were nothing to be ashamed of. Truly a shining moment in my existence on the internet!
Anyway, what I really want to know is why female body confidence is in such a strong spotlight, but male body confidence is not. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE seeing all the confident, curvy (and also not-so-curvy) ladies talking about learning to love themselves, but why have we not seen men doing the same thing? How can we make the topic of body confidence easier for them to approach? Is it possible to make our favourite part of the internet more comfortable for men? We're all fans of equality here, right? Well, am I the only one whose blood has been set to boil when reading something on body confidence aimed just at women?
I can't think of a proper way to conclude this, so instead, I shall ask for your thoughts on the matter. Leave me some comments on whether it's something which has ever entered the forefront of your mind, or if the absence of it has even been noticed. Do you, or have you ever, known any men (or heck, anyone who fits outside of the gender binary) who suffer now or have suffered from poor body image?