Here Goes… I’ve gone through the majority of my life with severe body dysmorphia. I’ve never felt comfortable in my skin or that I could truly relax into who and what I am. It wasn’t my “maleness” as I love the aspect of being male and I’ve never wanted to be anything else. It’s more that I felt I was never enough…that my male expression was not "man enough". At times, I felt almost shameful being male. I know that’s a ridiculous statement but still, there it is. Story is, I grew up in a split household spending a lot of time with my mom and sadly I witnessed a lot of indirect man-bashing and displaced anger.
That being said, I feel it’s only part of my conditioning as an unrealistic male body image perpetuated by advertising, culture and more recently, social media have also contributed to my body dysmorphia. So did Batman, Superman, Spider Man, AquaMan, Tarzan, my neutered GI Joe and He Man dolls. I’m not alone as there has been a sharp rise in body dysmorphia among men in general. The much needed makeover of masculinity is weighing hard.
Lets face it, the impact of unrealistic body image can be devastating on one’s self-worth. And the effort it takes to strive towards almost unattainable standards can point towards "I'm not enough-ness” and lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and may contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Not to mention extreme dieting, severe exercise regimes, steroid use and even surgery.
Women know this all too well. They’ve been victimized by modern, unrealistic body image standards longer than men. And as a culture, we've been super harsh!
Although for centuries, societies have perpetuated the idea that men must be unemotional, strong, and stoic. This global idea of what it means to be "a man" has been deeply ingrained in our culture and socialization.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift in the way that we view masculinity and it is time for us to create a more compassionate understanding of what it means to be a man both physically and emotionally. The question is, how do we integrate this generational shift in our personal and societal belief system? How do we become men that are no longer emotionally distant and uncommunicative seemingly overnight? How do we envision and integrate this new idea of manliness? This may be far more difficult for older men who have spent extra time steeping in emotional repression as a positive personality trait and absolutely no compassion for the bullied, scrawny guy that gets sand kicked in his face. But…
MEN DO WELLNESS NOW
Here are a few questions and prompts that have really helped me. Maybe they can help you too.
In this opportunity, am I worthy of practicing self compassion?
Is my comparison to others driving me to feel “less than” and is victimization the desired outcome?
Can I witness and simply process these negative thoughts I have of myself knowing they don’t serve my higher purpose?
Am I capable of reaching out and sharing my emotions without the fear of being shamed?
Can I reframe my negative self-talk?
If my duty to others overshadows my personal wellbeing, am I available to deliver my best self?
At this moment, can I love myself deeply?
Can I forgive my shortcomings, ask others to forgive me, and do better?
Am I spending too much energy pursuing vanity, positive feedback, and trying to surpass unrealistic societal expectations?
Is my quest to “do it myself” and “on my own-ness” leading to isolation (a personal dilemma for me)?
Please let me know how you navigate body dysmorphia and personally express the new warrior paradigm! Please share your insights...because in this instance, more tools equates to a better man!