Over the years, negative body image has been a prominent issue in the lives of teenage girls. Through the influence of media, Hollywood, and advertising, the desire to attain a “perfect body” has produced negative self-image in young girls. Nowadays multiple campaigns are encouraging a more positive twist on body image for girls, however, there is one issue we have failed to address. The boys.

For decades the body image discussion has solely been about the girls, so much so that the boys have been silenced. The importance placed on girls has left boys feeling insignificant in comparison. Although Psychology Today states that girls are “three times more likely... to have a negative body image,” this doesn’t mean that boys don’t experience the same struggles. According to The New York Times article, “The Beauty Myth for Boys,” by Cara Natterson, an “endless parade of perfect male imagery” is portrayed in the media by “professional athletes, superheroes, and gaming avatars.” As boys strive to be like these role models, this constant portrayal of the “ideal body” leads to lower self-esteem.

Furthermore, traditional views on masculinity are supported by commonly used phrases such as “man up,” or “boys don’t cry.” People have failed to realize the major impact these messages have on boys. In order to maintain an unspoken notion of “manliness,” young boys are constantly told to conceal their emotions. These standards create a damaging environment for boys, leaving them stranded and not able to open up about their feelings. Growing up surrounded with these ideals engrains this mentality of “masculinity” into young boys.

The Times article also states that during boys’ puberty, “emotional communication tends to be relatively muted” allowing for boys to be further isolated. Lack of communication in developing boys is worsened by the absence of attention they receive. Additionally, The Bradley University Body Project discovered that “men tend to be quieter about their body negativity...due to shame.” The decades old conceptualization of self-care being “girly,” discourages boys from discussing their desire for beauty. However, the media promotes looking a certain way. For instance, shirtless male models with perfectly chiseled muscles are widely seen in advertisements. Companies such as Hollister, as well as Abercrombe and Fitch, even hired buff male models to stand outside of stores to attract customers.

Subsequently, these age-old views of masculinity have created a trap for young boys who become scared to talk about their feelings, keeping this issue in the dark. Body positivity is one of the most important movements of our generation, however the focus has been on the girls. We need to start paying attention to those who have been left behind. The boys.

{p style=”text-align: right;”}Julia Fechner

{p style=”text-align: right;”}VAHS sophomore