The perfect guy body
With no makeup, not much hair to do (usually), and no reason to wear carefully considered outfits everyday, boys would seem to have the whole body image issue a lot easier than girls. However, being masculine has its own implications, namely not caring about body image.
“No one’s going to answer honestly if they really care that much about it.” This is how nearly every interview began with most guys when discussing body image. Because having been born a guy means you either don’t care at all, or you only care to get big and keep in shape. “Anyone that answers this question really seriously is honestly going to get ridiculed,” said junior Sam Conley.
It seemed the only acceptable topic regarding a boy’s body image had to do with working out and staying in shape. “Guys are definitely concerned about their physical shape. If guys are overweight or too skinny they tend to be self-conscious,” said junior Paul Sonsalla. This usually results in a congregation of high-school boys at their nearest Lifetime. “[I lift] six days a week probably. It does make you look better,” said junior Will Satre.
However behind the buff arms and loaded abs, other less obvious and more personal body critiques hide from fellow peers. “The flow image—I got pressured a lot from both genders about my hair,” said freshman Danny Tift.
At the same time there exists those pressures that can really only be understood within the minds of teenage boys. “Guys are most self-conscious of their ‘sock swag.’ If you don’t have the proper ‘scrunch game’ or you’re rockin’ off brand socks, you can be extremely vulnerable to criticism,” said sophomore Luke Musech.
For many guys, this self-consciousness and dedication to always looking good stems more from girls than their fellow guys, despite a lack of ability to articulate why. “Pressure from girls is definitely higher than pressure from guys. We gotta look good in front of the ladies. We say we don’t do anything specifically for it, but we still want to look good,” said Conley.
This pressure can be understood seeing that most girls agree that more athletic and active jocks and athletes appeal more. “There is a certain attractiveness about a guy who is athletic and buff,” said freshman Zoe Cave. And not only that, but girls could continually keep adding on additional traits and characteristics to their ideal guy: “tall, dark, handsome, strong features, athletic, smart, up-to-date on current events, family-oriented, and involved in school,” said junior Afua Paintsil.
All these expectations are viewed as ridiculous and unreasonable optimism by most of the male gender. “I think some girls expect too much out of guys. I think they expect us to be perfect all the time and we aren’t. We are gosh darn humans,” said junior Brendan Schember.
Despite girls’ reputation for having the most problematic and acute issues with body image, the pressure towards guys still exists; it just takes a different form. “I feel like guys are more comfortable about commenting on another guy’s image than a girl would be. Guys tend to just say what they think with the assumption that the other person doesn’t take it personally. The pressure to keep image up for girls is still there, it’s just much more subtle,” said Sonsalla.