Updated: Dec 21, 2022
The body positivity organisation was founded in 1996 by two women called Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott, since then it has snowballed into an international mission. In more recent years it has become prevalent in almost every shop, advert and TV show, except it seems to be missing one thing… men.
With major gym brands such as Gymshark accepting that skinny does not equal fit, and athletes come in all shapes and sizes, why does this acceptance stop when it is not a woman in the frame. Men are still depicted as being most desirable when resembling action man figurines, or a Marvel superhero.
With male suicide rates on the rise year after year, it begs the question- why are we not doing more? The link between body and image and suicide is undeniable, The Mental Health Organisation found that over 1 in 10 men have experienced suicidal thoughts and feeling due to body issues. With such a huge percentage of men struggling with this specific issue why are they being forgotten in one of the biggest movements in over 2 decades.
Is Toxic Masculinity to blame? The notion that vanity is deemed ‘feminine’ pushing men to deal with these overbearing insecurities alone, instead opting for group gym sessions and injecting each other with poisonous steroids. A survey by the Guardian found that over a million male brits use steroids purely for appearance as opposed to sport. Dr. Henrik Horwitz, of the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark found that steroid users are three times more likely to die than non-steroid users, entirely because of their steroid use.
They also had “much higher prevalence” of male breast development, infertility, erectile dysfunction, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm), pulmonary embolism (blocked artery), liver damage, jaundice and acne.
With so many men willing to shorten or end their lives just to appear more muscular, to say this is an issue only for females is not only ignorant but dangerous.
Are we as a culture less likely to be receptive to male plus size models, or even just your average looking man, who doesn’t have time to gym for 3 hours every day in order to maintain washboard abs and staggeringly low body fat? Studies reveal from Instagram analytics that lean muscular white males predominantly outperform other creators in terms of likes/comments. (Study conducted by Thomas Gültzow, Jeanine P.D. Guidry, Francine Schneider and Ciska Hoving).
Some brands are slowly catching up with regards to male body positivity, often a leader of positive change is ASOS who were one of the first brands to stop airbrushing stretch marks, something almost everyone in the world has, but has somehow been deemed ‘unattractive’ by mainstream media.
Their inclusion of ‘plus size’ male models is hopefully a sign that slowly this issue is gaining more attention, and could result in more brands following suit, which is often the case within the fashion industry.
Everyone in the world should be encouraged to be comfortable in their own body, and not to chase unrealistic toxic standards that have been edited to an unreachable calibre for the majority of the population. It is clear that this issue effects not only women, but all genders and identities. Therefore this movement should evolve to include all, and we as consumers should be mindful of not only celebrating diversity in the female form. As how can we expect men to accept themselves, when we do not accept them as they are?