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Self-Esteem and Male Body Image

How men take great pains for abnormal gains

Do you ever flaunt your six-pack? Put on a gun show? Let the cleavage of your pecs peep out from a low-cut t-shirt? Or perhaps you’re not there yet but are constantly chasing those “gains” and dreaming of the day. Maybe you’re the type of person who couldn’t care less about all that. Or maybe the way your body looks really troubles you?

Body image is more traditionally thought of as an issue for women than for men, but it concerns blokes too. OK, you might not think so if you head down to your local boozer and try to count the beer guts; but the fact is that the images presented to us on a daily basis do affect our ideas about bodies and how a man should look. These images can mess with your perspective and affect your self-esteem.

It’s really remarkable how the presentation of men’s bodies has shifted over the last few decades. If you peruse the covers of magazines, take a trip to the cinema or watch almost any big-budget TV series today, you find men’s bodies that are all absurdly muscular. Yes, absurdly. The physiques on display don’t look in any way ordinary. They are not the bodies of average men, but nor are they the bodies of men who physically exert themselves for a living, such as, say, builders or soldiers. What they actually look like are the physiques of body-builders. The odd thing is that this has become the norm. We have become so used to this sort of bulging appearance that we no longer see it as peculiar.

The real measure of just how far our perceptions have been warped is that even professional athletes can look a bit scrawny to us these days. Don’t buy it? OK, well do a quick comparison. Look at photos of Steve Redgrave in his prime, the rowing legend with more records and Olympic medals than anyone can remember. Or do an image search of David Beckham in his playing days, or Novak Djokovic the tennis champ. Now look at the torsos on the covers of Men’s Health, or those of screen stars such as Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Daniel Craig. The athletes’ bodies don’t look very striking to us anymore, because for all that they’re extremely functional and powerful, they’re nowhere near as bulky or swollen as the physiques of the actors or fitness models. How ridiculous is that?....

Read the complete article at Menswear Style, an online men's fashion and lifestyle magazine and one of the leading digital publications in the UK.


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