If We're Talking Body, Let's Talk About Both Of Us
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Politics and Activism

If We're Talking Body, Let's Talk About Both Of Us

Introducing a male voice into conversations on image.

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If We're Talking Body, Let's Talk About Both Of Us
Huffington Post: Noelle Campbell

In a society in which women are combating sexualization, objectification, and the seemingly never-­ending fight to be taken seriously, the double standard is often quietly buried in the ground to choke on dirt and more significant problems.

The treatment of women in the media is absolutely appalling. From photoshopping a woman’s figure to be skinnier than it really is, airbrushing scars and any facial marks, to completely redoing the image of a woman to look like someone entirely different in an effort to please the viewer/reader, women are absolutely subjected to horrific treatment in the media.

Men, however, are also are faced with problems of body image and expectations of suppressing emotions. This is not to say a man’s problem is more of an issue than a woman’s, but to introduce the male voice into a conversation that has been seen as a seemingly female­-centric issue.

Around Christmastime this past year, I had been interviewed by Hallmark for a position as a general employee. I’d applied for the position because I needed to dig myself out of the financial struggle that comes with being a college student. As I was sitting across from the manager, the words: “I notice you’re a little bit lanky. Can you carry...­” left her mouth. I cut her off, having heard this question many times before. “Yes. I’m capable of lifting heavy objects.” I spoke with a tone perhaps a little more irritated than I would have liked. She laughed it off quietly and moved onto the next question.

You see, as the then ­21-year-old, weighing in at 118 pounds with a wiry frame, I’ve fought the urge to speak out against male body expectations for far too long. Some women fantasize over Christian Grey, a sadistic, rich, white businessman because he has the sexual articulation of a 17-year-old boy and the body of a fit, 30-­something UFC fighter. Yet, the male is the one who is held to the expectation of being that strong and shaping their body to the form of Greek gods by expectations set on men to be strong and muscular dating back to Rome, Sparta, and reinforced by He-­Man Master of the Universe, Superman, Hulk, and G.I. Joe. Barbies were a problem for creating the plastic, white-girl image. Action figures did damage by perpetuating that a boy had to be strong in order to fulfill the “superhero-­like” person of being a man. Both also portrayed a doll or action figure as exclusively for one sex and not the other, which is damning to the opposite sex.

Alex Lee, a former employee from Target, was the focus of an adolescent girl’s Snapchat picture when she noticed how attractive he was. “Alex from Target,” as he was known, was heavily objectified because he looked a little like Justin Bieber. Here, when it was more apparent than ever that objectifying and sexualizing the opposite sex was not just a problem owned by men, it wasn’t addressed by more than a couple hundred outraged males in the comment threads declaring it a huge double standard. So, I’m addressing it again.

The conversation about body image is a topic worth having, and it is a topic that needs to be understood as a problem for men and women. When women fight for equality, continue to fight to equalize the coverage of men’s issues as well. Continue fighting for the men who get raped, for the men who get drowned out by the voices saying “Stop being a pussy.” “Man up.” And for the men who are subjected to any other crude statement that tries to enforce the male as a symbol of machismo and oiled six-­pack abs because we are voices to be heard. This is a war on both fronts and it can only be won if a conversation is had that illustrates both sides. Not all men have abs and pecs. We might be underweight for our average body type. We might be overweight. We might just be perfect the way we are.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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