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Men have body image issues too

It's not easy being a man in today's image obsessed society writes James Mulhall

Written by Ciarán D'Arcy and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

"The best advice is to be comfortable in who you are. Trying to cover up your insecurities only makes them more obvious."

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Being body conscious as a man is completely natural – but not really accepted by society. Where women can say “she’s so pretty” or “look at her figure”, men can’t really do the same for their male counterparts, without being slagged senseless! It’s not only women who notice other people’s good points – we all do.

We’re all conscious about our bodies. For men, we’re under pressure to go to the gym, bulk up, be tall and handsome, dress well, etc. It’s even more difficult nowadays – I know my dad and uncles, for example, would never care how they looked.

Here’s a few of the things I’d consider the biggest worries for guys.


We’re expected to be well kept, first of all. For some reason it’s okay to tell a guy he’s put on weight or needs to, it’s seen as banter. But it can actually make us pretty self-conscious. We’re not just under pressure to be trim but also toned. It works both ways. The media constantly complains about guys expecting girls to be skinny and blonde. How often do men hear “oh I love really toned arms”? More than you’d think.


Hair colour isn’t really a big deal for guys but the volume of hair and the hair style is. Nobody wants to go bald but for most (it affects up to 70% of men at some point in their lives) it’s a real possibility. Even when we have the hair, the style is really important. Personally, I’m quite lazy about getting haircuts so more often than not I’ve got pretty terrible looking hair. This gets comments which, I’m sure if I reciprocated to a female friend, I’d get looks of disgust.


Ah, height. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who doesn’t want to be more than six feet tall. Even though I’m average height (5’ 10”) I get slagged for being small. It’s not exactly something we can change, our height, so it’s not the nicest insecurity to have. Of course, it works both ways. I’m sure some guys have the opposite issue; where they feel too tall.


There’s a fine line here. Dress too well and you get abuse; don’t dress well enough and it’s hard to attract romantic attention. Generally, blending in with the crowd seems to be the safest option. Not one I recommend, but the safest.

These are just some of the things that affect the male body image, though there are loads more. The media focuses on the pressures on women; though we guys are under pressure too. I’m not one to lecture on it – I’ve as many insecurities as anyone – but I think the best advice is to be comfortable in who you are. Trying to cover up your insecurities only makes them more obvious. Embrace the extra few pounds, the lack of hair, the too tall/too small fiasco and anything else life throws at you!

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Published June 11th2014
Tags body image men's health
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