Everyday, I walk into a room with floor to ceiling, mirrored walls.
Flaws you never noticed are instantly accentuated. Mess up a dance move, everyone sees. In dance, you are constantly being critiqued on what you do, and a single movement makes all the difference. Yet, I ask myself, is it the teacher giving me a critique, or my own reflection, staring back at me with searching eyes? A mirror is addictive, and can easily be compared to the media, as they both portray body image in a distinct light. Before searching about this social issue, I thought people were conscious of their body image because they were not confident about themselves. I thought they created their own problem. Growing up, I was an average height, lightweight, blonde hair, blue eyed girl. I never felt conscious about my image, and when I was lectured about ‘loving your body’ or ‘being proud of your flaws’, it never phased me, and I never payed to much attention. I never had thought about, nor felt the pressure that over 50% of young girls face each day (sirc.org). With this in mind, I made sure to try and get to the bottom of what is causing this epidemic of body image anxiety within our civilization. In other words, what contributes to the anxiety many have towards their body, and what is influencing the way we view ourselves?
Men are given a set of specific instructions and standards for perfection. Like women, these standards are unrealistic and unfair. The ideal man is rugged, strong, emotionless, handsome and tall (HuffingtonPost.com). Admit it, that is what we think of when we hear the perfect man. This standard is plastered into our brains, and is an easily accessible, negative comparison to any guy that looks in the mirror. Jessica Lovejoy, a positive body-image advocate brings up a good point when she mentions, “You will almost never see a heavyset lumberjack-esque man gracing the cover of a clothing catalogue. Or a fashion magazine. Or an in-store poster” (HuffingtonPost). When you walk into a women's store, there is a chance there could be a plus sized model or a plus sized section. Unfortunately, men do not usually have this option (HuffingtonPost). I have never been told to be more feminine, yet phrases like “Man up!” or “Be a man!” are used often and are cruel and harsh. Attractive men are better off than others, as taller men earn almost $600 than shorter men. They are also less likely to be found guilty, and more often to have less severe charges if they are (SIRC.com). This new information forced me to think differently about the subject. Plus-sized models are not common for men, and their gender role is always associated with how they should look. If you still think body image problems are all about women, think again.