Recently, an online exhibit entitled Body Language: (re)Translating Our Images hosted by Xhibit P featured a poignant essay comparing gender perceptions of body image by Philadelphia-based pop culture writer Drew Shane.

He writes, “For many years studies have been conducted dissecting women but men are just as body conscious. We want to have the chiseled body. We want to look younger. We want that ideal healthy lifestyle. Hell, we want the Weight Watchers commercial belching Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” in front of a green screen too…wait that just might be me.  Nevertheless, we only hear about women and the effects that the media has on them. Somehow their counterparts are forgotten.”

I’ve met numerous men that are obsessed with protein shakes, gaining weight, and sculpting perfect muscles. It’s quite possible that men might be equally obsessed with body image compared to women. Just look at what’s considered masculine and sexy in pop culture: men are being fed unrealistic images too. Not every man is going to have the weight and body of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or even be as tall as many beloved actors. While I’d argue that the desire to “look younger” is shared between genders, perhaps we should discuss men’s body issues just as often as their gender counterparts.

What do you think? Are men and women equally obsessed with body image? Speak on it!


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  1. I would totally agree. It’s an issue that’s often overlooked. I’ve seen countless men, gay and straight both, who fret over fat, muscle mass, etc. It is just as much as issue in the male population as it is in the female. Aside from a fear of rejection and the need to be desired, conventional masculine constructs play a part as well.

  2. C Debra Thomas

    I would agree that men are body conscious but not in the same way as women. We live in a society that is very forgiving of men and the extra pounds. Have you ever sat in a mall and watched people go by, couples specifically. What do you notice?
    Have you ever really looked at commercials for weight loss? Women. They always say they are so much happier? Excuse me! Happiness is a choice!
    Up until recently height tended to be the body image challenge facing men. Now it’s girth as well and whether their eyebrows are sculpted… So yes, I also agree that much of the hype is media driven and people being succeptible because they have not taken the time to strengthen their internal muscles. When it’s all said and done body image is not about the body at all. It’s about the soul.

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