When we hear or think about movements that center around body-positivity, we likely think about empowering women to accept and appreciate their bodies in their healthiest state, even if that state isn't in line with the often unattainable standards of beauty represented in the media.
The commodification of the female body in the western world is a concept that extends as far back as the western world itself, and socioculturally, beauty norms still remain a salient concept ingrained in women's psyche's today.
But what about men, too?
While roughly 70% of women ages 18-30 are dissatisfied with their bodies, almost half of men are in the same boat.
So why aren't we talking about them as much?
So while there exists plenty of rhetoric from women about how they dislike their thighs, want abs, want bigger breasts or a smaller nose, what types of rhetoric might guys spout off?
To be more muscular, to have taller stature or a more chiseled face? Washboard abs? The ability to grow facial hair?
While women are plastered with images of Victoria's Secret Angels as a body goal to aspire to, what might be the comparable body archetype for men?
I went on a brief investigation to survey some of my guy friends and explored which types of male bodies were commodified as the most attractive.
And it seems that the Calvin Klein model fit the criteria.
Calvin Klein has notoriously produced sexy advertisements for decades, and the men the company uses to brand its underwear involves incredibly ripped models and actors.
The level of sex appeal that plays into their advertisements and brand image not only conveys that the model presented meets a high standard of male attractiveness but is also the most attractive to women as well.
So, guys who've been socially conditioned throughout their lives to believe body archetypes such as the Calvin Klein model are the pinnacle to aspire to are likely to be more dissatisfied with their bodies if they don't conform to the standard they feel is set for them.
So what type of behaviors might be observed in guys who wish to attain to that standard?
Working out, specific dieting habits and taking supplements are common behaviors men may engage in order to attain more muscular physiques. On the extreme end, growth hormone supplementation or disordered eating behaviors may also work their way into many men's routines.
It should be noted that working out, eating healthily and taking a multivitamin are all healthy lifestyle factors. Doing these activities to make your body and mind feel good is an integral part of one's personal mental and physical well-being.
However, extreme levels of activity that risk one harming their body are unhealthy behaviors. Further, certain men may feel pressured or forced into certain "healthy" regimes regardless of if they feel healthy since they perceive the end result will improve their appearance.
The "fitspo" rage that's taken social media by storm may play some role in affecting male dietary and gym habits. Messages that one has to work out irrespective of their physical state (such as illness) and that certain diets are "guaranteed" to cut fat can promote a man to engage in habits that might not work for his specific body.
Many social media fitness influencers also promote the use of substances such as pre-workout, additional supplements, teas and specific protein powders meant to increase energy, remove bloat, to "bulk" or burn more calories.
Certain items such as pre-workout, when sourced reputably, and protein powder can provide a boost of energy or recovery to one's workouts. For certain types of pre-workout and supplements, however, it's important to understand the unregulated nature of the supplement market.
The FDA is not required to vet and qualify the claims that supplement manufacturers make about their products, meaning that you're not guaranteed to receive what the supplement tells you, or that it will work.
The loose regulations mean that even supplements that claim they're "scientifically tested" aren't guaranteed to have been studied in a lab or evaluated according to FDA standards of safety. The term "natural" used with supplements is often a term used to attempt to describe holistic products, even if there isn't a set of standards to define what "natural" is and where it can be used.
Worst case scenario, the pressure for men use supplements can lead to potential overuse or exposure to unsafe supplements that could potentially have negative health consequences.
In fact, a few years ago, two soldiers died of heart attacks after consuming supplements prior to a fitness test.
And no guy's life is worth losing over his perceived level of fitness and appearance.
So just how our society is learning to teach women that they have value beyond if their bodies adhere to a notion of beauty, we should be doing the same for men.
Shifting from a culture of extreme beauty habits and instead emphasizing fitness, health and wellness as tools of a healthy body and not aides to one appearance are steps we need to focus on to improving body positivity in both genders. Otherwise, the mental and physical repercussions of each sex trying to attain an ideal not healthy for them can put their lives at risk.