With Mainstream Media finally acknowledging body positivity, do men feel included in this movement?
CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.
There has been a variety of movements that have advocated body positivity over previous years, specifically the plus sized models who have become a symbol of empowerment for many women. Despite this, there have been next to no plus-sized male models; is this a necessary change that would empower men as well?
The number of men admitted to hospital for eating disorders between 2010-2016 grew at the same rate as women, which shows how much of a growing concern this is amongst both men and women.
Is social media responsible?
Only in recent years have we started to question the links between mental health and social media. Continuously being shown photoshopped images which promote the image of unrealistic body types has been found in numerous studies to have negatively affected mental health and wellbeing.
Steroid abuse in the male community has been happening for decades but has risen in serious amounts in recent years as men pursue the perfect body; causing serious amounts of long term health issues. It is very likely the pressures of modern life and the importance of self-worth that is placed around the way you like is responsible for this. In a time where every time we open our phones, we are forced to look at photos of celebrities looking unattainable, living unattainable lifestyles and the reactions they get make our brains think that we have to aspire to the exact same thing in order to be fulfilled.
This, in turn, has caused a lot of mental health issues in modern life and is definitely something we as a society are now a lot more aware of.
Men are of course affected by this, but why is it not spoken about as freely? Men's mental health has for a long time been a contentious topic. The whole alpha male, strong man ideology that has long been forced onto men has resulted in widespread emotional vulnerability and an inability to talk about issues that face men. Only until we continue to push the importance of opening up about mental illness will we see a positive change in how men can confront and deal with their emotions.
What can we do?
In a time when mental health and depression is at an all time high, we need to be more conscious than ever about what not only how we feel but how others around us feel.
This is easier said then done, as there is not always a simple thing to do help. The best thing to do is first recognise when you think a friend, loved one, or colleague is struggling. Most of the symptoms that people have when they're struggling with mental health are not always visible, as you can never truly understand or feel what is going on in someones head.
There can be a number of ways those struggling can show it however, such as:
-Becoming more distant
-Weight gain/weight loss
-Looking visibly distressed or upset
-Changes in sleeping habits
If there is someone who matches this criteria, the most important thing you can do is not over react and demand that they need to get help. All though you would of course have good intentions, sensitivity is important to bear in mind. Normally just taking time to have a conversation, or have lunch or a drink with them and, more importantly, taking an interest can mean a lot, sincerity can always inspire someone to open up as you're showing you care.
The most important thing you can do is to show a level of understanding and support.
After checking up on someone, you might decide to find more information about how to help. The link here will take you to a page with more information.