By- Monalisa Gogoi
I notice more and more that people find it weird and wacky whenever men admit that they have body issues as well. With women, this already is a public domain for a longer time: body positivity, body awareness, and whatnot. We see way more curvy models on the runway and in more and more campaigns size zero is not tolerated anymore. That goes in the right direction, even though we are not yet there where we should be.
But I want to talk about men here because men have body issues as well. We also are insecure about certain bodily features, which externally gets fed by all the washboard abs, the trained pectoralis minor and major, the powerful jawlines, razor-sharp bi- and triceps, and the full-grown beards and mustaches that we get hit in the face with by the depictions in the media. And I haven’t even mentioned the man bun here.
Gynecomastia, pejoratively known as man boobs, is a condition in which men develop breasts as a result of imbalances in estrogen and testosterone. It’s very common among boys during puberty, and among men 50 and older, but it is especially distressing for men under 40, according to New York-based plastic surgeon Dr. Joshua Zuckerman.
How Big Their Penises Are
“Men are very insecure about penis size,” Ziskind says. This despite the fact that studies show that women actually prefer smaller men for long-term partners, potentially due to fear of pain during intercourse. Still, men can hang on to negative feedback about size from past partners, or even peers in the locker room growing up, for most of their lives. “Men take insults about their penis size to heart. Comments about penis size can linger negatively with a man for decades.”
Having Old, Baggy Eyes
Many men visit a cosmetic surgeon because they’re worried about their baggy eyes making them look old. This is especially true for men over 40 who have endured some sun damage. And since few men wear sunscreen on a regular basis, this amounts to a lot of people. Ironically, men don’t have the same mental baggage about their eye baggage as they do about breast growth.
Losing Their Hair
Hair loss is quite common among men as young as 30, and some embrace it better than others. Despite evidence that some women may be more attracted to bald men, “many men have a real association of baldness with being less attractive, less masculine, and appearing older,” Zuckerman explains. “I personally suffer from partial baldness as well, and I think it is difficult to convince the majority of men that the completely bald, shaved look is attractive.”
Being a Waif of a Man
In general, men have a lot of body image issues women can relate to. They’re inundated with unattainable images of what men’s bodies are supposed to look like. But the biggest difference with men is that they worry about being underweight, too. “Men usually worry about their stomach or abs, just like women, but they can also have insecurities about being underweight,” therapist Katie Leikam says.
Where They Are in Their Careers
“Men can be insecure about where they are in their career, based on their age,” Leikam explains. Although money is an important part of this, earning potential is connected to broader anxieties about living up to social standards of being a man. And the more insecure men become, the more they tend to compare themselves to other men, which tend to make them feel worse. It’s a vicious cycle and a terrible way to keep score. “Older men could wonder why they aren’t as far along in their careers as their peers are. Men can benefit from understanding that they are still successful in their own way and are striving to be where they need to be.”
How Tall They Are
Shorter men may be concerned about their height because they fear that they are unattractive to women, or are taken less seriously by their peers. However, very tall men have insecurities too, such as feeling uncomfortable in small places or awkward around average-size people — and occasionally having to explain that they’re not good at, or even interested in, basketball.
“Men who are shorter may naturally surround themselves with friends around their same height. This builds a sense of normalcy,” marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind told Fatherly. “Men who are taller, above 6 foot, can be more self-conscious because many men and most women are always shorter than them. They can feel like an oddball.”
Having (and Showing) Emotions
“Men are often told to tough out their emotions and are shamed for showing them,” Schroeder says, noting that because boys are taught this from such a young age, many insecurities men struggle with their entire live start there. “The result of being this way causes men to wall off anything that feels vulnerable and thus, insecure.”
Whether or Not They’re Good Husbands
Much like being stable providers, being a good partner is an important facet of being a good man. A stagnant or unhappy marriage can take a tremendous toll on a man’s self-worth over time, especially when he’s unable to communicate this to his spouse. When this happens, resentments tend to build and relationships get more distant.
“Marital misery shows up in my office quite often in the form of a husband’s attempt to compensate for his lack of feeling ‘good enough’ by being a workaholic.”