From adolescence through aging, males suffer from body dissatisfaction and fear the inadequacy of their physical selves.
(Photo by Damir Spanik on Unsplash)
By Dr T J Jordan
Contemporary cultures have long advocated a male image that is hyper-masculine and unattainable by the vast majority of boys and men.
In order to attain the kinds of muscled and “ripped” bodies that society touts as attractive, men frequently turn to destructive behaviors. They exercise excessively, invest in unnecessary supplements and treatments, follow eccentric eating regimens, and suppress their feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy.
These body image concerns appear to extend across sexual orientations and beyond cisgender males. Trans males seem to experience particular difficulty with achieving the traditional male ideals.
We have begun to recognize that body image concerns overwhelm contemporary males. Dissatisfaction with their bodies can be particularly toxic for men who have been taught not to speak about their problems but rather to “fix” themselves without showing vulnerability.
Men are taught to equate “masculine” body types with sexual desirability. They worry in silence about being unacceptable to potential lovers. Since men desire loving relationships in order to experience great sex, they sometimes believe that a hyper-masculine body is a prerequisite for being loved by a sexual partner.
Men trouble themselves also with body-part dysmorphia. They concern themselves particularly with the size and adequacy of their erections and worry about performance capability.
When men feel bad about their bodies, they often experience shame. Body shame can become toxic, and can lead to social discomfort and hesitation to engage in intimate relationships. Body image problems in men contribute to shyness and reluctance to engage freely in interpersonal interactions.
Sources of body shame range from inherited body type to the effects of illness, injury, and aging.
Excessive focus on physical self works to obscure the importance of the emotional self. By emphasizing the role of physical attributes, society teaches males to ignore emotional “muscle”…