WHAT ABOUT MEN?
Women are not the only group faced with pressure to meet rigid and unrealistic standards of appearance. The masculine ideal is fast becoming just as socially and culturally ubiquitous as its feminine counterpart. Like women, men are encouraged to invest in their bodies and appearance as a pathway to confidence, individuality, and above all, success. However, conventional stereotypes discouraging participation in behaviors and practices associated with feminine norms persist. The body after all . . . . . . .
remains a feminized construct. Still, men are expected to manage contradictory expectations of masculinity.
Media and industry have certainly taken full advantage of gaps in the market. In recent years there has been massive growth in the male cosmetic, diet, and fashion industries from the manufacturing of male-only cosmetics and fashion lines to a spike in gym culture and elective surgery procedures like facelifts and calf implants (ASPS: 2010; Newman: 2010; Euromonitor International: 2012). Media, from print to digital, more often showcase the male body in a particular 'appealing' light and then treat it as a commodity or an object to be gazed upon (Wykes and Gunter: 2005). Much like it does with women's bodies.
I think we live in a time where there is more freedom allocated to how gender is interpreted. Yet ridiculous ideals that frame masculinity and femininity in a one-dimensional way persist and ironically contradict the very notion of gender diversity. There is much attention given to women and body image, and rightfully so, but what about men? What will come of them, especially those who have matured or will undoubtedly mature under the cover of media and technology? As a sociologist with an interest in this subject I can tell you that there has been little written or said about it. Male body image carries with it a unique set of challenges and complexities. Dismissing this, ignoring it, or pretending that men couldn't possibly be concerned with it because of outdated ideas about what it means to be a man not only undermines their experiences, it's down right irresponsible.
Some of which has been taken from my Tumblr: http://tarafannon.tumblr.com/. It provides links to some of my other writing pieces and projects..
I’m a sociologist/writer/researcher/semi-teacher with interests in gender, disability, the body, and media.
As a masters student in the sociology of health and illness my research explored how media representations of the feminine ideal affect body and self image of visually impaired women. I’m now pursuing my PhD in similar areas. Some of my more recent (albeit part-time) interests are exploring how Western beauty ideals influence female life in Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan; how food shapes culture; and how Calvinism, the American Dream, and American optimism impact U.S. contemporary thought and action.
What else…I love food, dancing, people watching, collaborating with others, taking photos, ticking things off my list of to-do's, and getting a good night sleep.
I currently live in New York City with my husband John, after having spent the last 9ish years in Dublin, Ireland.