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Do men suffer from body image issues?

“A body like Thor” “Tall, Dark and Handsome” “Muscular and Athletic body”

Aren’t these the parameters that we have been judging men with and is it even ethical or right to do so? What if I am short, fat and fair, will I qualify your unrealistic standards? Or should I be insecure about my looks and masculinity?

When we think of the body positivity movement, plus size models, and body image issues, we think of females. Because why would men (the ultimate warriors who do not feel any emotions or pain) be insecure about their bodies? It is instilled in our minds that men do not have any insecurities. Correct me if I’m wrong but insecurities are a woman’s issue, men are only supposed to bottle up their emotions, right? *cue eye roll*

Society taught boys “beta macho bano macho, masculinity toh jhak maarke tumhare peeche ayegi”. But sorry Sharma uncle, your “honhaar beta” is not that secure with his masculinity after all. It's not his fault though, it is ours. Masculinity does not lie in the ability to hide your pain or live up to others' expectations about your appearance. We were so busy idolising men who are tall and muscular and who look like they have just come out of a TV commercial that we forgot about men who might not be comfortable in their bodies because of such nonrealistic expectations.

We see curvy models and body positivity brand campaigns embracing female body now more than ever. But this raises a serious concern: are men’s issues not valid enough or are they brushed under the carpet because we are not ready to address the toxic male ideal? We have seen women share their stories about body insecurities but how many times have you seen a man open up about his struggles against body shaming? This is not because men do not have any issues, this is because while women’s battles are considered inspiring, men’s issues are considered to be abnormal.

Between “mard ko dard nhi hota” and “itna patla hai hawa mein ud mat jaana”, we forgot the insecurities and stereotypes we were harbouring. The Greek god persona with a sharp jawline, chiseled body and biceps and triceps is what is considered “attractive”. However, an average person is far from these impractical standards. While we are embracing every female body type, why is it so hard for us to accept the same for the counterpart.

To every person reading this, your body does not need to look like the ones you see on social media. It’s okay to have acne, hair fall, wrinkles, and scars. Our imperfections make us who we are. You do not need to starve yourself or go through pain in order to be accepted by others. Impractical jokes and snarky comments on someone’s appearance can have an adverse effect on their mental health.

Beauty should not have a standard for anyone. Everyone has their own battle and we can help someone overcome their challenges through inclusivity and sensitivity. Men do not need to be lean, muscular, or heavily built to qualify the quest of masculinity. Next time you see an unrealistic movie, ad, or social media post about men’s appearance, check up on your son, brother, friend, or boyfriend and let them know they are perfect, just the way they are.

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