Summary: Although the majority of the attention is directed toward women when it comes to body image issues, we can’t forget that men are experiencing these same issues as well. More and more men are beginning to feel the pressure to hold the physique of a professional athlete, male model, or a superhero.
There has been a refreshing trend in the past few years of people in this country recognizing and celebrating the bodies of real women over the Photoshopped figures of stick-thin, 20-something-year-old models, and now men are also sharing some of that spotlight.
On the female side, there’s the continued backlash against the Victoria’s Secret bra campaign that uses the tagline “The Perfect Body” but features a lineup of women with the same skinny frame. Critics call the images irresponsible, damaging, and harmful to the self-esteem of women because they seemingly refer one body type as “perfect.” In contrast, ad campaigns from brands like Dove and Aerie feature strictly “real women” who are natural, often curvy, and un-retouched.
Earlier this year, Illinois blogger Brooke Birmingham’s “after weight loss”photo went viral when she claimed it was rejected by Shape magazine for showing the excess skin around her tummy. Shape was poised to share Birmingham’s 170-pound weight loss story, but she said the magazine asked her to send a clothed shot, citing an editorial policy, after she first sent in a bikini photo. Shape later said such an editorial policy didn’t exist and blamed the controversy on a freelance writer. The magazine responded by featuring Birmingham’s story and promising to include more “real women” in its magazine.
On the other side of the coin, it’s not often that we hear about the bodies of “real men.” But that seems to be changing, no matter your take on societal pressure to be thin and how it differs from men to women.
Like Birmingham, fitness YouTube star John David Glaude also lost more than 160 pounds and took to social media to share his success. His video My Biggest Insecurity caught the attention of thousands of people on Reddit and millions more on YouTube, where Glaude bravely stripped down to show the loose skin on his arms, torso, and legs. His self-narrated message is an inspiring and positive one. He admits his shape isn’t his ideal, calling it “just a mess,” but he also says, “This is who I am, and I’m proud of it.”
In the video, Glaude alludes to wanting to take his mission for a healthier body even further. In the comments below the video, some viewers bring up about plastic surgery procedures, such as a tummy tuck, arm lift, or thigh lift surgery that could correct his loose skin.
Many people who have lost a significant amount of weight actually report feeling just as unhappy with their bodies afterward because of the loose skin that is left behind. Some plastic surgeons, such as the board-certified physicians at The Plastic Surgery Group who perform tummy tuck and other such surgeries in Albany, N.Y., even refer to body contouring as the “final stage” of weight loss.
If Glaude does decide to take that route, he will be in good company. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of cosmetic procedures for men has increased by more than 273% since 1997. More than 9,000 men underwent tummy tuck surgery in 2013 alone.
In any case, his future appears bright, and he has already served as an inspiration for people all over the globe. Glaude, who has recently caught the attention of the likes of The Ellen Degeneres Show, ends his viral video with the advice “Never let loose skin stop you from going for your dreams.”