Beyond The Male Thigh Gap
Magazines and brands sculpt unrealistic thigh gaps that are big enough to fit another person through. It’s worse when they are men’s. By BMCC undergrad Russell Cheah.
Our sons, brothers and nephews are raised with the ideology that a man’s masculinity lies in how far they can push themselves in the gym to look like the poster boys we see on social media – toned, buff and ripped.
To be fair, the same can be said for women. Magazines and brands sculpt unrealistic thigh gaps that are big enough to fit another person through. Don’t forget that one time Target’s little ‘photoshop team’ gave their model alien arms, or all those other times we read about how women are being sexualized in the media.
While many of us won’t let brands and corporations get away with body shaming women, we are letting them get away with doing the same thing to men. When asked whether skinny men are less masculine than those who are buff, Dexter Raj, a student at Segi University says yes. “Not only do we look more masculine, but girls like it,” he said.
Such actions have begun to manipulate the way men view their masculinity and what makes a man itself. Without realizing, these will eventually affect their upbringing and ultimately, their mindsets. There are a number of men today who believe or have the perception that their manliness are defined by their bodies.
I remember the Calvin Klein campaign with Justin Bieber. When the excessive editing for the posters were revealed, instead of lambasting the company for its body shaming, both men and women opted for a less ethical route and began to tease Bieber for his less than ripped physique instead.
Deyanna Daniel, a student from Inti College believes that buff men give out a sense of security, especially towards women.
“I think society finds buff men more appealing because it shows that they take care of themselves,” she said.
Male body issue is a problem we don’t take seriously enough. Men who want to speak up are often poked fun at because it contradicts the expectations of what they have to live up to. Not very long ago, women were on the same boat. But today, they have managed to fight their way through that. More plus size models have found their way to the catwalk since and a model with down syndrome is redefining beauty standards everywhere. Little by little, women are stepping out of that same shallow boat onto a bigger ship.
When we begin to acknowledge that men will have the same emotional repercussions the way women do, change will slowly make way for situations to evolve. Eating disorders aren’t an alien topic either, such as what the famous TV series, Glee, tried to highlight with their character, Sam.
Among the body insecurities, the most prominent one men face is the ‘moobs’, or man boobs. I grew up taking a bus home every day with a boy who had this very feature on him. He became a stigma and the other boys on the bus had used his body as a canvas to craft as much jokes as they could. It has been years now and I haven’t seen this boy since but wherever he is today, I’m certain those memories have affected the way he looks at himself. I know this because it would have affected me.
My call to action for anyone reading this is to be empathetic. If this article were reversed and about women, it would be taken more seriously. As the title says, let’s look beyond the thigh gap and stare at the bigger picture instead. When we tackle issues like this as a whole and not limit it to gender, we can make a more impactful change and pave the way for a better generation to come.
Image credit: mic.com