Male body shaming: This less-talked about social issue can affect mental health well-being

From being short in height to owning a too skinny body type, having a pot belly, to being hyper-conscious about their private parts. Yes, we are talking about the ‘less-talked about’ social issue of male body shaming. Dr Joseph Thomas, Medical Director of Medlounges, a body positive enthusiast thinks it’s time more men realise they are not alone with this issue.

“We always believe that body-shaming is significantly associated with women and rarely with men. But for years, men have also been the silent victim of body shaming in society. From professional athletes to the commoner, body shaming can happen to anyone. Some celebrities were brutally fat-shamed while vacationing on a beach! And teenage boys are being bullied for gynecomastia commonly known as man boobs leading to significant mental health issues,” he tells ET Panache, saying that this issue is undoubtedly on the rise.

“And we have got to be serious about it before it hampers the mental health of many,” he shares. Here are some of the ways he suggests dealing with male body shaming.

Do show emotion
Men are innately considered to be the stronger ones. They are always expected to subside their emotions. When we say to our boys, “Stop crying. Man up!” we ask them to hide their emotions altogether. The same goes with male body shaming. It’s not easy for any individual, a man or a woman, to be criticized for their body color, shape, or size. So why are men not expressive about these issues? Well, men are always considered to be rough and tough.

Expressing what they feel about their bodies or body insecurities makes them look less masculine. There’s indeed nothing wrong with having better health goals, such as a strong core or biceps. But toxicity happens when people stop accepting others and themselves for who they are and shift their focus from creating healthy habits and behavior into achieving something unrealistic.

​Dr Joseph Thomas, Medical Director of Medlounges, is a body positive enthusiast.Agencies

Dr Joseph Thomas, Medical Director of Medlounges, is a body positive enthusiast.

Seek guidance and help
Man boobs or Gynecomastia, a hormonal condition where a man develops enlarged breasts like a woman, is a common issue that men face and get terribly body shamed for. One needs to understand that nobody has any control over such issues. It’s purely hormonal and needs medical intervention. Similarly, being skinny, bald, having too little body hair, worrying about the genital size, etc., may look like some first-world problems. But deep inside, these issues can have the worst impact on self-esteem and mental health.

Realise what’s in your control
Negative body image can be developed by pressures caused by environmental factors such as family, peers, and social media. Gynaecomastia and Baldness are cases of body image issues imparted due to hormonal and genetic factors; that is beyond one’s control.

These body image issues can be treated or resolved to a certain extent through medical science. Doctors try to find the root cause and treat it with various modern treatment procedures.There are non-surgical, cosmetic surgical, and minimally invasive solutions available in the field of body image treatment. Through physical examination and diagnostic tests, X-rays and scans, a doctor will identify the condition’s cause.

Speak up
Society plays a significant role in shaping our thoughts. To overcome this burning issue, we must be more open about it. Be it male or female body shaming; let’s stop tolerating them as random first-world problems. Understanding that we are all unique in our ways and the same applies to our bodies certainly helps. It’s time we celebrate authenticity, inclusivity, and body positivity. It’s time we get talking about it.