Men and the media


Gage Skidmore

Six years after being named Glamour’s ‘sexiest man alive’, Robert Pattinson revealed his body dysmorphia prevented him from taking his shirt off.

Mara Fendrich, Staff Writer

It’s no secret that as long as marketing and the film industry has existed, women have been forced to look at their bodies through a critical lens. What’s been skimmed over is the fact that the same unattainable standards are pushed onto their male counterparts.

This isn’t whataboutism, or a desperate attempt to distract from women’s struggles with eating disorders; it’s a prominent and dangerous issue. The media uses photoshop and a perpetuated illusion of the “perfect body” to target the public and capitalize on their fabricated insecurities.

In recent years, a type of body dysmorphia directed towards men has become increasingly common. Known as muscle dysmorphia, it forces the person to see their body as too small or weak, specifically targeting male bodybuilders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA, 25 percent of normal weight males perceive themselves to be underweight, and 90 percent of teenage boys exercise with the goal of bulking up. Thirty-eight percent had used protein supplements, and nearly six percent admitted to having experimented with steroids.

Matt McGorry, a bodybuilding trainer turned actor, revealed his body image issues on TODAY.

“As a bodybuilder, I was required to have a very specific aesthetic, one that was far beyond my normal, healthy abilities to maintain,” said McGorry. “Feeling constantly pressured to look like that ‘ideal’ eventually changes your perception of your own body. When I was training for those competitions, I was miserable. And yet, when I stopped competing, I couldn’t help but separate my misery from what I looked like.”

McGorry is far from the only male celebrity fighting their unhealthy habits and mentalities. Actor Chris Pratt, who famously went from an overweight comedian to an action star, admitted that he felt the need to stay overweight in order to remain a comedic figure.

“I saw myself in an episode [of ‘Parks and Recreation’] and in the matter of two moments very close together, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m getting fat,” said Pratt. “And then almost immediately I did something else and I thought, ‘Holy crap, I’ve never seen myself funnier.’ And I put the two together.”

Pratt also revealed he used to struggle with his mentality when it came to food and his body.

“I’m sure I can’t relate to what females go through in Hollywood,” said Pratt. “I’m sure I can’t. But, I do know what it feels like to eat emotionally, and…to be be sad and make yourself happy with food. And then to be almost immediately sad again and now ashamed and then to try to hide those feelings with more food. I know what that’s like. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s a very real thing.”

It’s nearly impossible to discuss an issue that affects one gender without being attacked for not showing the other. Women’s struggle with the media’s pressure and constant advertising for an unobtainable body is clear. But the truth is that it’s not an issue with women, it’s an issue with people that needs discussion on both sides.