On men & body image

One of the less discussed topics regarding body positivity is that of male body image.

The Body Project, developed by the Women’s Studies Program at Bradley University noted on their website that, “So far, research has shown that male and female body images share many of the same features. Women and men, boys and girls, may share body image risk factors and consequences of negative body image, though studies do point toward males being affected a little less severely than females.” This was in regards to a study conducted by Psychology professors Duane A. Hargreaves and Marika Tiggemann.

According to The Body Project;

Male body image also tends to be more misunderstood than female body image. Men are presumed to be mainly concerned with a ‘perceived lack of muscle,’ when in fact male body image can be much more complex.”

One study by professors in the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy of Osnabrück University in Germany tracked 45 weight-training men, while showing them photographs of men with normal, muscular and hyper-muscular body builds.

The study read that, “Among the 3 other bodies, the attractive body parts of the muscular body drew the most visual attention. Results confirm and extend recent findings on the relevance of muscularity for male body image. At the same time, they indicate a prominent role of drive for thinness for body-related attentional biases assumed to perpetuate body dissatisfaction even in men.”

To get the opinion of a real-life male, I sat down with my friend Wold Recht in the lawn in front of the Kennedy Library on the Cal Poly campus. As he picked apart the blades of grass in front of him, I picked apart his brain and asked him for his views of male body image.

 

 

“Within my own personal sphere, I don’t regard it as healthy to allow yourself to be influenced by what is effectively just a consumerist approach to what the body’s image should be.” —Wolf Recht

While Recht understands that he is surrounded by social pressures that affect many people’s body image, he chooses not to pay them much attention in his day to day life.

I guess this just shows that many people will feel differently when it comes to body image, especially because it is such a personal subject. It’s fascinating to open up conversations about self love or body image, particularly with people who have a different perspectives than you do; they will always teach you something new. 

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To shave or not to shave

Eleven days ago at the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards, actress Lola Kirke walked the red carpet in a stunning baby pink Andrew Gn gown… and grown-out armpit hair.

And all the headlines read something like: Armpit hair?! What a statement. Which is kind of funny, the idea that a couple centimeters of natural body hair were suddenly the focal point of her look.

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Kirke was both criticized and commended. A Vogue article said she “expressed a bold message when it came to her own body—taking the opportunity to shirk conventional Hollywood norms.” Yes, Vogue. Amen to shirking those norms.

Body hair isn’t something that’s often talked about, probably because it isn’t supposed to exist on women. We are conditioned to shave it off, all of it, so that when we finally emerge from the bathroom we have become these smooth, hairless versions of ourselves. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s weird to think that we work to meticulously remove something that grows on our bodies naturally.

A lot of visible body hair on women is “gross,” but the same hair exists on men and it isn’t seen that way.

In the following feature for the StyleLikeU movement, artist, photographer and feminist inspiration, Petra Collins, said, “Not shaving was kind of the first step towards accepting my body as it was.” She talked about how, “in the beginning it was weird and hard,” but now she doesn’t give her body hair a second thought because it’s just a part of who she is.

“Why do I buy things every day to get rid of something that my body is just trying to grow?” —Petra Collins

I personally like to have my legs shaved and armpits waxed… but sometimes it gets to be too much. Then I get to the beach and hesitate for a second before taking my pants and shirt off because “agh my ‘pits and legs are hairy beasts what will the people think??” But I shouldn’t care what the people think. The people will always have something to say;  when it comes to our bodies the only opinions that truly matter are our own. 

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My #awesome #hairyarmpits

Of course, whether you choose to get rid of your body hair or not is a matter of personal preference. But the choice should not be reliant on what society says you should look like; it should be about what makes you feel the most like yourself, the most beautiful.