Daniel, 35 from Bristol, wrote to me to share his body image story.
He started an e-petition calling for the editor of Men’s Health to show a more diverse range of real male body types. This gathered a few hundred signatures after its feature on Exposure.org and other websites combined with his own tenacity in promoting his cause via social media. Due to personal commitments Daniel was unable to keep the momentum of the petition going and closed the account down. He has however kept a note of the bio he wrote, which read:
”I feel this issue is important because men like women are getting bombarded with images of perfect male torso’s on the cover of magazines such as Men’s Health UK which makes men like me feel insecure about and hate their bodies.There is an under-reported male body crisis happening in the UK with according to Joseph Stansko perhaps 1 in 4 of the 1.6m Britons with eating disorders being male and increasing numbers of blokes abusing steroids.A 2013 survey by The Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 51% of their 693 members thought that the boys they teach had low self esteem about their bodies: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21864312”
Here’s Daniel’s story.
”Since I was a teenager I had always been chubby but playing rugby and football stopped me from getting too overweight. I was bullied throughout Secondary school and by the time I left to go to College I lost all my confidence to interact with anyone else and I stopped playing sport.
Over the next few years I got into drinking and gradually put on more and more weight. By the time I was in my early twenties I weighed over 13 stone and had a little belly. I thought about losing weight but never did anything about it because I was scared that some children might see me while I was out running and call me fatty or something else.
Then, one night, I had just got out of the shower and I was lying on my bed topless with my bottom half covered by a towel. I happened to look down at my stomach and I was disgusted by the rolls of fat I saw. I decided to take action so I began going running every day and I was really strict about what I ate. If I ever had some cake or some sweets I would force myself to go running afterwards.
Gradually, after seven or eight months, I lost 3 stone but when I looked in the mirror I still wasn’t happy as I saw big man boobs staring back at me and not the hard pecs and abs I desired. So I continued obsessively running every day and I lost more weight until I was 9 stone.
By now I was very thin and both my family and friends became concerned about my gaunt appearance. Thankfully they were able to talk me about it and convinced me to put some of the weight back on until I looked more healthy.
I feel happier with how I look and when I exercise now I only go running 2-3 times a week so I don’t over do it. I still don’t like the sight of my man boobs so I have started doing free weights every other day to try and tone them up.
So I think I’m better then I was but I guess I am not totally over my problem with my body image.”
What do you think about the male side of the body image topic? Do you think magazines like Men’s Health need to take more responsibility in representing their audience in a more literal and real way?
Would you like to share your body image story, too? If you would like to write a piece for me, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write about whatever side of the body image topic you like – it doesn’t have to focus solely on the men’s or women’s perspective. It can be as long or short, in depth or vague as you like. You can talk about your own experiences or simply give your opinion. All I ask is that you don’t put anyone down.