Whenever we have body positivity campaigns, we don’t exactly have men as the target audience. Any mention of eating disorders often brings to mind young women starving themselves or binge eating to get the ideal body as dictated by society. We aren’t aware for example that men account for 35% of eating disorder patients . Note that this statistic can be grossly underestimated given that there is a bias in diagnosis given that this disorder is generally associated with women; in addition there is a stigma associated with eating disorders as it does not fit the mold of hypermasculinity.
An important part of removing the taboo of body image issues for men, is of course to talk about it. Which is why I absolutely loved this episode of SoulPancake’s “That’s what he said”, where a group of men got honest about their struggle to love the body they’re in.
I learned multiple things here:
- Our biggest bullies are often our family members
- There’s a struggle in not understanding which body type is ideal
- Skinny people are asked to bulk up, fat people asked to lose weight, and there’s an in between that doesn’t fit either
- There’s pressure from the media to look a certain way
- Low self-esteem continues even as we get older
It’s important to note that none of these things are ground breaking for women, but there is something to be said about a shared struggle. How do we create a body positivity environment that is inclusive, for all genders as well as people living with disabilities? This could open up conversation about how we can be more compassionate with each other. What would a conversation with your significant other look like if you were this candid about the pressure to look a certain way, whatever your gender is. Could we walk away knowing how to hold space for each other in a way that empowers us, highlights our qualities and nurses our insecurities?
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.