Men and Poor Body Image
I thought this was an interesting headline—“Men Catch Up to Women in Poor Body Image, Eating Disorders”.
The first line of the article remarks about the perfect bodies on magazines which give teenage girls unrealistic ideals of what they are supposed to look like. That’s been my beef for years. Everywhere we look, magazine covers for men and for women display near-perfect (perhaps even surgically enhanced) beauties. Women are used to sell countless unrelated products. Glamorous women are needed for menial tasks in game shows. In other words, women have been valued for their looks much more than men have been. This has taken its toll on young women in terms of eating disorders and a strong urge to surgically alter their bodies. (A recent trip for a mammogram led to a discussion with the technician about breast implants. She guess-timated that around 25% of the women she had been seeing lately had them.) Now, I don’t think it’s morally wrong to get breast implants, but I do think it’s a real shame that we women feel such pressure and unhappiness with our bodies that we would resort to surgery in large numbers to look more like what we are shown daily we should.
Men, however, are apparently starting to feel some of the same pressures that we have internalized for years. If I were a vindictive sort, I’d say, “Ha! ‘Bout time.” But I’m not like that. I like men. I don’t want our guys to suffer psychologically or to harm themselves physically to achieve physical perfection, either.
The article points out that due to seeing “idealized, muscular men in the media”, young men are feeling compelled to lift weights to unhealthy extremes, eat unbalanced diets, ingest excessive amounts of protein supplements, and even take steroids. When I posted on lifting weights for exercise, this was not what I had in mind!
While I disagree with the title that men have “caught up to” women in poor body image, I do agree with the article’s conclusion: "Instead of seeing a decrease in objectification of women in society, there has just been an increase in the objectification of men." Think about that for a moment. More and more, we are becoming things to one another. Although I admire beauty as much as the next person, I am deeply distressed about our society’s focus on the temporal and external over the character and inner beauty of our people. But that should be a whole other post...