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Being Ken is as Hard as Being Barbie: Why Body Image is a Male Problem, Too

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Some so-called feminists would have us believe that “body image” is an almost exclusively female problem. It isn’t. Men face an equal, and perhaps greater, challenge measuring up to today’s physical standards.


Contributor: gone77

Good one, Roland. I completely agree.

Contributor: Emma (Girl With Fire)

I agree to a point. YES body image is ABSOLUTELY a HUGE issue for men, no question. I have an underweight brother who has fought to reach 110lbs since he was 16, and one a good day, makes it there. I also have a brother under 5'9, and I know how he is treated, I have seen it first hand. Some of my best friends are overweight/obese males... and I know how they feel about themselves.

On the other hand, the pecking order you described, that occurs in female circles too. Immediately. The difference is that it is not acknowledged verbally, and everybody is trying to pretend it isn't happening. But they all stay in line. TRUST ME.
Finding suppliment/hormone and plastic surgery ads in the back of BODY BUILDING magazines, whos main focus is the physical appearance of the body? Not surprising. Finding multiple plastic surgery, and body enhancement ad's in teen magazines such as Seventeen, Sassy and Cosmo Girl? These magazines are first of all not SUPPOSED to be focussed on appearance, but fun things like fashion, entertainment, lifestyle and relationship advice etc.
Did you know that an incredibly large number of women grow facial hair, resembling peach fuzzy and sometimes even prickly beards and mustaches? When was the last time you saw a woman with facial hair? Women are incredibly concerned with the appearance of their vaginas, and not only the physical appearance, but the inner size and shape as well! There are absolutely women who are depressed and suicidal over the size and shape of their labia..... but like men suffering from the microphallus, they aren't likely to discuss it with anybody.

Just something to mull over

Contributor: NurseKitty

Amen! I struggled as a teenaged girl with body issues. I was skinny, flat chested and weighed about 90lbs until the age of 21, Everyone I know cannot believe that I every had "problems" with my body image because I was skinny. Well I have news for people EVERYONE can have a body image problem men included!

In fact we put as much pressure on men as we do on women. We women complain about being bombarded with images of skinny, busty women how do you think a guy feels when everywhere he turns there is an image of some guy with 2% body fat, ripped arms and a stomach you could use to do your laundry on? C'mon ladies it's time to admit we do exactly the same thing to men that we accuse them of doing to us, lets put on the big girl panties and admit it then give your guy a kiss and remind him that you love him for exactly what he is

Contributor: William Morton
William Morton  

What you ladies ignore that it is a statistical fact that fat men are far more likely to experience violence because of their fat. There is a pecking order.

Also the biggest problem that fat men face are fat women who constantly marginalize the experiences of fat men.

Contributor: William Morton
William Morton  

Also I do not understand why so many women seem unable to describe the body bias/shame they receive without marginalizing the body bias/shame that men receive, as if there is a finite supply of body of body issues out there.

Contributor: namelesschaos

Once again it become incredibly clear for all your whining about feminism you still have no clue what actually feminist theory looks like (Spoiler: they are not the imagery straw feminists that live in your head).

because they’re not just limited to what makes a man “attractive,” but how a man identifies himself, and his social ranking amongst his peers.

The short breakdown of Roland 's latest BS:
Roland straw feminist: female body image theory is just about what makes a women "attractive"

Actual feminist theory: "Body image is not limited to what makes a women "attractive", but how a women identify herself, and her social ranking amongst her peers"

Male Privilege Roland Keeps Refusing to Acknowledge: I repackage a stereotypes about male and female properties while ignoring women saying this is exactly what they been going through for years and call it insight and critical thinking.

Contributor: William Morton
William Morton  

I do not agree with a lot that is said in this article but it is right about the fact that so many women focus on marginalizing and discounting the negative body issues that men have and often speak as if they have absolute knowledge on the experiences of men.

Contributor: namelesschaos

I don't mean to disagree that body imagine issues in men aren't woefully understudied and acknowledged. My point is that Roland rant goes far beyond drawing attention to that, he as he has repeatedly done, turned a complex issue in to a over simplified anti-feminist diatribe. Feminist theory on body image doesn't stop as Roland implies at attractive

Contributor: namelesschaos

oppp hit enter early. Nor is this troupe limited to feminists. How come he never once calls out psychologists or sociologists for spreading this idea, if he is right they need to be called out just as much. He does this because feminism is an easy target if he said most so-called sociologists are barking up the wrong tree, it whould be a lot harder for him to look credible.

Contributor: Lula510


Contributor: Champagne and Benzedrine (Roland Hulme)

namelesschaos - I'm hesitant to feed your obvious trolling, but feel I ought to clarify that I am criticizing feminists regarding this issue because when it comes to a discussion about body image, they're largely the first ones to hit the brakes and insist that the conversation only continues with the explicit agreement that "it's much worse for women." I personally don't think it is "much worse" for women; and to your point about body image not being boiled down to what's "attractive" or not, body image is a concept that I believe is MUCH more complex for men. In fact, attractiveness is one of the lesser issues - heterosexual women are generally more sophisticated about what is and isn't "attractive" in a man and most of the issues I've highlighted involve how body image affects men in other ways that you seem delightfully oblivious of.

Contributor: sarahbear

namelesschaos -- I beg to differ on your point that he's saying feminism is about body image only affects how attractive women are. He specifically mentions how being tall, slim and traditionally attractive affects everyone's ability to get the job they want or to be taken seriously in society. I think you frequently stop paying attention to what Roland says because the second he says anything negative about feminism, you don't want to hear it. He's not always right, but he does make some excellent points to consider.

Roland -- Great piece. I will mention that there is one curious thing about this entire manliness issue, and that is television. While we do see muscled up models and such, it's common to see an older, fat or average looking man with a much younger and more attractive female lead.

Contributor: Positwist

Your argument would be significantly more forceful if you hadn't argued for degree. You argue that "Body image is just as much of a problem for men as it is for women; perhaps even more so." Why try to one-up women? Why not just say, "Body image is a problem for men, too." This isn't a contest; don't turn it into one.

I agree with you whole-heartedly that men struggle with gender roles and beauty norms, but there's no value in arguing over who has it worse. I read your column because I'm a gender theorist and I need to keep tabs on what folks are saying about gender, but as a reader, I find myself dismissing your arguments as petty when you engage in this "WAH IT'S WORSE FOR US" business. That's a shame, too, because the meat of your argument is valuable and interesting.

Contributor: Chirple

I very much agree with Positwist. You don't need to feminist-bash or play oppression olympics to make a good point.

"Feminists might not agree, but the truth is that men are under just as much pressure to “conform” to standards as women are. "

More like, "Psycho fringe-people who call themselves feminists might not agree [...]".

It's like going nuts on Westboro Baptist Church but using "Christains" to refer to them, like they somehow speak for all instead of being the fringe nutcases they really are.