When most of us hear the term “body image,” we typically think of a woman concerned about her physique. That’s probably because media and ad campaigns are filled with messages encouraging a positive body image for women, yet men are just as likely to lack body confidence.
According to a study by CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a UK-based nonprofit against suicide, 35% of men are unsatisfied with how they look, and 39% feel under pressure to achieve an unrealistic physical ideal. Additionally, nearly half of the men surveyed said they experience mental health issues linked to their body’s appearance.
So, why aren’t they talking about it? According to MYX trainer Shaun Tubbs, it likely boils down to social conventions. “I think men are concerned about how they look, but it’s not common practice for us to express how we feel,” he explains. “It’s easier for men to hide themselves and joke about having ‘dad bods’ than it is to face their feelings.”
Love the man in the mirror
Shaun offers the following advice to help men get to a place of male body positivity:
- Recognize what your body can do. This can mean acknowledging things as simple as, “I can move. I can get up and go to work every day. I can walk for 10 minutes.” Then, as you gain strength and stamina, the accomplishments will gradually get bigger.
- Remember that change goes both ways. Sure, your body may have changed over the years — perhaps you’ve gained weight and body fat, or lost muscle. But as Shaun points out, it’s not a one-way street. You can encourage positive body transformations by getting stronger and reaching a healthier weight.
- Focus on how you feel, not how you look. “Sometimes it may take a while to look different, but it doesn’t take long to feel different,” says Shaun. “Pay attention to how you feel after walking 10 minutes today, and then tomorrow, and then the next day.” Openfit LIVE’s walking classes are a great place to start.
- Accept what you can’t change. While you have control over many aspects of your body and fitness, some things can’t be altered. “Maybe you can’t be taller or change your body type, but you can feel strong and healthy,” says Shaun.
By focusing on your body’s capabilities, understanding that change is a two-way street, and recognizing how a healthy lifestyle makes you feel, you can start on the path toward a more positive body image.