The action of insulting or negatively labeling a person based on his physical appearance is called Body Shaming. Women are often affected by this: it is easy for men (and unfortunately sometimes also for other women) to judge the size of the lips, breasts and in general the body of women, without paying any attention to the feeling of that person forall these unsolicited judgments.
But there is also a male body shaming (when it comes to negative things we like to copy women!) that has an equally negative power and probably equally widespread. But we talked about it less. Men tend to underestimate it by burying the discomfort with defense mechanisms.
Why don’t we talk about male body shaming?
Unfortunately the victims (men) are not yet able to talk about it because they don’t identify it as a problem. But (most of the times) they are not the ones to blame.
We have grown in a society where the concepts of “machismo” and (toxic) “masculinity” are so deeply rooted in culture and education that every outburst is seen as natural development of things. We don’t ask ourselves why we need to become “big and strong”, to change the shape of our body, to have to show out fuzz. We do it because it is so.
Furthermore, the attempt to tackle the issue opens the door to the “sweeping” of man to other’s eyes. The prohibition against expressing a weakness, a vulnerability of our own body is born because it would be “like sissies”. So we tend to hide and avoid speech.
The peculiarities of the male body shaming
Just because the male and female bodies are different, the way to hit and negativize the male body is also different. The most common criticisms concern, as for women, the body or parts of it (pectorals, abdominals, thighs), but often also concern height, hair, hairiness.
There are men who feel uncomfortable about their thinness or for a fat body or for the “beer belly”. And they are struggling to take off their shirts (especially at the seaside in summer). There are boys who suffer from comments on their stature because their partner is taller. The anxiety during teen age due to the appearance of the beard. The judgment of not being muscle (and therefore strong). The struggle of old men to accept themselves for their “excessive” hair. Or those who start losing hair and have to hide it.
And finally there is the penis.
About this, in particular, we talk about Dick Shaming, and it is so specific because, unlike women, the shape and length of the genital organ identifies in the mind of many people the strength, the power and indeed the virility of man.
All these create a real sense of inadequacy, with both physical consequences (erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation from anxiety) but also psychological (anxiety, depression, low self-esteem).
What we can all do together against the male body shaming
Apart from talking about it openly (and in this, women very often do it more than men .. thank you!), it is important to create places – even virtual ones -where men can feel free to talk about their bodies, the discomforts they have about it and actively decide whether to accept what you are or begin a path of transformation (start on one’s own and not from a complacency of others!).
Only in this way could we educate ourselves (but above all other people) to get out of the “definition” of what a man is or should be and find each his own special way of expressing and telling himself.
This post is born from a reflection of @virgynandmartyr, one of those special virtual places where you can feel free to express yourself.