I have run through in my mind how this blog would go so many times. Where to start, what to say, what I should and shouldn’t touch on, etc. and I feel like the only way to really sort that out is to just start writing.
I want to discuss self-love, body positivity and the difficulties surrounding it; for men.
I am not a man so my experience with this is obviously somewhat limited. I am a less than perfect woman with pale skin, light hair and eyes and only a moderately “undesirable” body type by societal standards. I have my struggles but being honest, I am blessed with many things. I don’t struggle in the same ways so many other women are accustomed to on a daily basis and I don’t know the struggle of a man either.
I know the discomfort of envy and personal comparison and I have experienced my fair share of self-hatred but I was also so lucky to be raised in a loving and supportive household and so many aren’t so lucky, especially boys. Fathers that don’t support sensitive boys who don’t love sports, mothers who hold their sons heart in their hands and mistreat it, locker room ridicule, I don’t experience that. I don’t get to have a say how boys feel, how men are criticized or shamed and I sure as shit don’t get to say I understand them as they wouldn’t understand me.
So many people don’t really think about it, male body shaming and low self-esteem, but it is all too real and all too swept under the rug; our boys and men don’t feel comfortable but they can’t share those emotions for fear of more ridicule and disapproving responses. Men are looked to as strong and silent, rugged and fearless. I understand that generalizations aren’t always accurate but let’s be honest they’re used enough with women I think I’m okay getting away with them here, yeah?
If you’re sitting there thinking, what do guys REALLY have to deal with compared to women? Ignore male privilege right now, ignore strength and intimidation and all the things that can make us feel like men have it easier. Just think about the reality that is male body shaming and low self-esteem for boys growing up. Let’s take a minute to think about the boys who don’t like sports, the men who can’t grow beards, the boys with no body hair (or lots), the under weight and the over weight, those who don’t enjoy the gym and bulking up. Let’s respect the boys who cry and who ask for help and aren’t 6’4. Embrace the boys that want their nails painted and while the whole world wants to harden them they find a way to be loving and sensitive and thoughtful.
Society has put the pressure on men to the point that they are uncomfortable discussing their insecurities because admitting they exist makes them feel, well, insecure.
My best friend and I have talked about this on several occasions and I wanted to share something she said when I discussed this post with her.
“I think when it comes to men they are poorly underrepresented in the BOPO movement. We are breaking the chains of objectivity and being sexualized meanwhile we still don’t see men the same. Our young boys wear t-shirts to swimming pools are shamed for having “man boobs” and get the same criticism if they are fat as women do. We don’t want to admit it because we are so busy being liberated but we fail to see that our men and boys need to feel ok being exactly who they are too. Just because they don’t shout about wanting to be accepted the way they are doesn’t mean that they aren’t sobbing for it on the inside. Men feel so much pressure to just not care. fuck that girl I don’t care if she doesn’t want me. Fuck him I don’t care what he thinks. but on the inside they do care, on the inside they want to be loved and accepted just like they are.”
I love a man who struggled with self-image issues his whole life. I married a man that I have seen cry, a man that loves to hug and snuggle and watch cartoons. My husband is a man that has overcome so many hurtful moments and people to become the man I know and love. He loves Disney and Christmas and babies and dogs and if I ask him he will read to me in bed or pick a movie for me to watch or wrap me in a blanket if I’m not feeling well. Whenever I talk about my magnificent treats baker husband to people they joke about how lucky I am or ask about his brothers etc. and I think to myself every single day how lucky I am. What people don’t know is all that he had to overcome to be this man, all that he had to deal with and different versions he had to be. He had to learn to embrace himself despite everything he was told by peers and by people he loved. I am lucky because all of this acknowledgement of the trauma of his past will make him the best kind of father. He has learned what not to do and has the most open heart for a child that wants to be anything and everything. I am lucky because I have no fear of how my husband will parent our children even if I’m not around.
When you are hurtful to a man it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect him, it doesn’t mean that calling him a disappointment doesn’t stick with him for the rest of his life, just because you’ve decided he cannot show emotion in that moment. We put a lot of pressure on men to be confident and strong-willed and we criticize men who are willing to be vulnerable and often we walk all over them. As parents often boys are nudged towards sports and “manly” activities, colours, clothes, etc. but if we call a girl a “tomboy” we aren’t acknowledging that girls can play in dirt without a label. I am not here to criticize parents or women or other men, I just want to bring to light what is so often left in the dark.
Men deserve to be in an uplifting world. They deserve to be who they are without fear of ridicule, they deserve to be emotional and vulnerable and soft. Big or small, men deserve acceptance too. We as strong women are so busy breaking through the glass ceiling that we are leaving our boys behind. Equality doesn’t mean let’s make sure women of all sizes are more celebrated, equality is celebrating women AND men of all colours, shapes and sizes.