It’s less talked about, but the media and societal pressures to look a certain way have powerful effects on both sexes.
The fact that many women struggle with harsh media-driven beauty standards is no secret. There are a number of beauty movements, like the no-fat shaming campaign and anti-photoshop campaigns, that work to unhinge these common perceptions of beauty by showing how “real” women look. Something that we never hear about, however, is how these media-driven standards affect men. In fact, men are obsessing over their body images more than ever before.
Typically, eating disorders are generalized as a women’s issue, but today, nearly one in four men are affected by eating disorders, according to a video by Newsy posted on Science Daily. Men are becoming increasingly concerned about their physique, and it can go one of two ways. The disordered eating symptoms can manifest themselves as either an urge to slim down or an obsession to bulk up.
While women are taught that beauty lies in impossible Barbie-like figures, the media socializes men to feel like they need six-pack abs and absurdly chiseled physiques like Hercules or Magic Mike. Male body image issues often spiral into overuse of workout supplements or steroids. However, this obsession over image is also perpetuating a larger cultural shift in the male beauty norm. Not only are more men falling victim to body obsession and eating disorders, but the male beauty industry is booming more than ever in history.
In 2014, the men’s personal care market hit $4.1 billion, a 19 percent leap since 2009. In fact, it’s one of the most thriving and prosperous segments in the entire industry. Interestingly, the male beauty culture is still being portrayed as “manly,” upholding the traditional, macho gender role. In an advertisement for a Dove Men+Care moisturizing product, the company’s tagline was “Care makes a man stronger.”
Newsy’s video discussed a study from the University of Victoria that found that men are becoming more dissatisfied with their body image, and women, less so. Perhaps the world will see a sort of turning of the tables, and men will become increasingly integrated in the sphere of beauty and body obsession.
While men have different behaviors and approaches to cope with their insecurities, it’s an issue that’s gaining more momentum but still being overshadowed by female struggles with beauty standards. Since the problem is at its all time high, it points to a larger cultural shift that’s driving men to be concerned with their images more than ever before.
Watch Newsy’s video, Men Increasingly Feeling Pressure To Be Beautiful: