The pressure is real

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NAOMI CLENDENNING

The Mirror

Social media, television, and magazines. What do these three platforms of entertainment have in common? They influence the ideas of what a perfect body is.

There are multitudes of body-positive activists for women such as Iskra Lawrence, Ashley Grahm and Bree Warren. Although there are body-positive activists for men, they are not as well-known but men face the same amount of pressure from platforms to obtain the idealistic body that is often not realistic.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) found that 25 percent of average weight males perceive themselves to be underweight. The study also showed that 90 percent of teenage boys begin exercising with the goal to gain muscle mass. These statistics prove that there is an underlying cause for men to feel the need to obtain a so-called better body.

Stevens Point Area Senior High student Phenix Patton said, “I usually feel pressure to have the perfect body from my peers or popular culture. I hear a lot of talk about what kind of perfectly fit celebrities are hot, but never any talk of anyone who does not fit the model body type.”

These pressures that are put on men can cause them to develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. A lack of self-confidence can lead to excessive attempts to change one’s body by working out and lifting weights, taking steroids or protein supplements.

“When a guy goes weight-crazy, nobody asks him how he is doing or checks on him. He gets “congrats” and may get told that he is “finally hot.” It typically goes unnoticed when there could be an underlying issue of a lack of self-confidence,” Patton said.

The actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays the character Thor in Marvel movies, has completed extensive training and dieting to achieve the bulky, muscular look that the character is known for. Hemsworth gained approximately 20 pounds while training prior to each filming. In an interview with Hemsworth on trainmag.com, Hemsworth said,

“We train six days a week for about an hour, but never much over an hour, but we go hard during that time frame. I do train when I’m not playing Thor, but I’m less bulky because I eat less and my workouts are more rounded and less centered around being muscular. I usually put on about 20 pounds of muscle to play Thor.”

Without platforms and activists such as Dexter Mayfield and singer Sam Smith, there would not be a representation of all male body types. These platforms create a safe space for individuals to feel comforted and accepted for who they are. It is an escape from the typical male image that is seen on social media platforms and television.

While reaching out for contributors for this article, there was a lack of response due to the vulnerability that was necessary to complete an interview. This lack of response showed the pressure men face from society to not only obtain the ideal body but to maintain the stereotype that men are emotionless and cannot share their thought about insecurities or other issues they may have.

The amount of time it will take to create an atmosphere where men do not face pressure is unclear. A societal change needs to take place to remove the stereotype. With activists using their platforms to speak out about the unrealistic standards that are expected of men, a step in the right direction is being taken. People noticing when an actor changes their body to portray a character and creating conversations about this is an example that occurs now.

On television and in magazines the most common image is of a very in shape individual who creates an unrealistic image of what people should look like. These pressures exist for all people, but there are not as many people recognizing and speaking out about the pressure that men face from society to obtain this unrealistic “ideal” body.