Get the shorts out, the summer is coming! Happy days, right? But not if you are a man suffering from a lack of body confidence.
There has been a real sea change in the body positivity movement in the last few years, with more media focus on embracing bodies that are different colors, shapes, and sizes. On the catwalk, in movies, in our favorite TV shows and in magazines, the ‘typical’ models are featuring alongside curvy ones, ones with different colored skin, those who look different in whatever way.
The stark fact remains, however, that body confidence and the body positivity movement is laser focused on the experience of women.
According to a British survey in 2019 by the UK Mental Health Foundation, 28% of men said that their body image was a source of anxiety, and 11% admitted that they had suicidal thoughts because of the way they felt about their bodies. Famous actors and celebrities have come out to talk about their struggles to have that ‘perfect’ male physique, including eating disorders and depression.
A Short History of the Ideal Male Physique
There have been long periods of history where the ideal woman was all curves and soft edges, the Renaissance being the obvious example. Big ladies lounging on couches were the epitome of feminine grace in that time, with voluptuousness closest to perfection in art and in life.
Looking back at early art for a similar time for men comes up short though. As far back as Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, the ideal male physique was lean, muscular, and chiseled.
The male model just-stepped-out-of-the-gym look is just as unachievable for men as the size zero model is for women, yet there is not so much of a focus on the damage that the media portrayal of ‘ideal’ can cause in the other half of the population.
As we roll round to the summer months, it is normal for us to start thinking about getting our beach body – diets vying for our money, gyms advertising free months, and Instagram showing us posed and filtered models who we will never look like.
Body confidence, or body positivity, all comes from within. The media portrayal of perfection aside, our own worst critics are always ourselves. To be confident in your own skin means feeling confident, and while it is not always easy to achieve, below are some tips that might help you find your happiness and confidence in the summer.
Dress Your Way
Summer is probably the hardest season for someone who does not feel greatly confident in their body. You can’t bury yourself under layers of chunky jumpers to hide the bits that you feel are unsightly like you can in the winter – unless you want to sweat half to death.
Instead, you want to look for ways to dress that make you feel good and confident. If that’s a pair of John Cena-style jorts, a slogan t-shirt, and some Crocs with socks – you rock that outfit.
If the clothing is made in your size, and it fits you, then you can wear it. There is nothing that you are ‘too big’ or ‘too skinny’ for. If you have a body, and you put beachwear on it, then you already have a beach body.
One of the key ways to make yourself feel more confident is to give yourself a boost. For some this might mean a compliment to yourself in the mirror, while for others it might mean finding and focusing on something about your body that you do like.
You can also flatter yourself by looking for wardrobe staples that suit your style and mood. In the summer, you can wear shorts and a t-shirt, chinos and a shirt, or any combination of different outfits, and you will feel fabulous because they fit you, and they flatter you.
Whatever style you like, wear it with confidence in the finest traditions of ‘fake it until you make it’ – and remember that you can wear whatever you want to, as long as it is legal.
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