The issue of girl’s body image has always been talked about, images of perfect girls such as Barbie’s or princess gather criticism whereas a blind eye is shown to the boy who feels under pressure to achieve an idealised figure of a “prince.”
Young boys’ perception of what a man looks like is being flooded with big sexualised muscular figures that are so called “role models” that feature across magazine covers, music videos, television, and social media. Leaving boys with the belief that they don’t measure up to the media ideal, feeling like they need to bulk up.
Before boys even reach school age they already have an ideology that they should be big, dominant, and muscular. With cases of boys who worry about their looks starting as young as age six. I don’t think the traditional social norm that boys are only concerned about sports and games is still true. And yet as a society we ignore the sensitivity that young boys are presenting. If a girl was to starve herself in order to look skinny it would gather concern and help, yet nothing is said to the boy that asks for seconds and thirds in order to get big.
We are perfectly happy to paint images of grossly enhanced muscular bodies for boys to aspire to, but bare no responsibility in the turmoil and abusive behaviour that it causes when the boys cannot reach these set standards. Steroids and other muscle building supplements have become easily accessible and increasingly popular among teenage boys, but we don’t commonly talk about the danger of body building at ages when the body is undeveloped. Many young boys I know who exercise and take supplements excessively have an ongoing list of health problems but talk about it as no big deal with a “no pain, no gain” mentality.
As you get older the intensity to have “six pack abs” and “bulging biceps” amps up, it is not uncommon among teenage boys to be taking muscle supplements daily along with copious amounts of exercise, and sometimes steroids. Boys who are skinnier than others begin to gain attention being called “scrawny”, “weak”, and sometimes “gay”, bullied because they aren’t as “hench” as everyone else. Girls pay more attention to the guys that have bigger, more muscular bodies and make sexual remarks about “fit” boys, remarks that when men make about women garner disgust and disapproval from society, yet this same disgust and disapproval isn’t shown towards women when they make the same towards men. All of this reinforces that “not being happy with your body is a feminine issue,” So no wonder that boys often suffer in silence and resort to either body building, or binge drinking, drug use, and self-harm.
We are painting unreachable looks for boys which they all strive for, it’s like asking them to jump for the stars; they will never do it, but they can hurt themselves trying. And they do, Self-harm admissions and eating disorders related to body image anxiety for boys is at an all-time high, boys are taking it out on themselves. Yet we continue to condemn the next generation of men into believing they are not good enough rather than telling them that the men on front of magazines have teams of people focused on chiseling their physique with diet, supplements, and even then they are still being airbrushed. There’s no one telling the boys that the men who go through all that don’t actually live amazing lives. While we choose not to talk, boys continue to believe the grass is greener on the other side, this is clearly an issue that we should be talking about, discussing, and deciding on a way to move forward with it, and so, long until we collectively decide that is time to put a stop it?
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.