I have something to say. No one should be surprised by this. But it is important, it is serious, it is a public service announcement that is necessary for all to hear:
In all my talk about women being treated fairly, about women being shown images that are attainable and promote positive self-worth, about women being given the same opportunities as everyone else, I forgot to talk about men. And I apologize.
As a girl in her twenties in the twenty-first century I spend a tiny bit of time on Pinterest. I am completely playing down the amount of time I spend pinning this recipe and that haircut and all those circle skirts only to avoid embarrassment and shedding light on the status of my social life, but I’m sure you get the idea. During these times I come across a few photos here and there of the popular men in Hollywood (see: Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon Levitt, etc.). I apologize for not realizing earlier that in all my posts crusading for women I never once considered the same crusade must be started for men.
You see, we women are just as bad as men when it comes to ogling and objectifying the opposite sex. We somehow get away with it better and I’m not sure if it’s because men ignore it, they don’t care, or if it’s simply that we don’t care. Personally, as much as I love a good-looking man (because who doesn’t, I’m not going to lie), I am tired of seeing the same photo over and over of Channing Tatum looking greased up and stripped down.
I never considered before how these images would be affecting men in their teens, twenties, and likely older, as well. They would have ideals that they are looking to attain just as we women are and are being shown ideals that for many are impossible to attain, are airbrushed to death, and are strewn across media outlets with captions heralding them as the ultimate boyfriend/husband/trophy. They are constantly being described as perfect. To an extent I suppose these men are perfect with their chiseled abs and strong jaws and sleek haircut but what about the real men?
What about the men that we see every day on the streets, in the cafes, in the bookstore, while we’re grocery shopping?
What about the men who are likely hiding insecurities about their bodies, who are thankful for the tshirt that covers their flat yet ab-less stomach, who don’t feel the need to remove every follicle of hair on their body in order to be attractive on the beach?
What about those men?
I wish this had occurred to me earlier or perhaps that it didn’t take the barrage of images through Pinterest for this to occur to me. I suddenly found myself in their shoes thinking of how I feel when I see an image of “female perfection” in the media and wondering if I should feel inadequate rather than just fine the way I am. I found myself thinking of how they might feel looking at a man who is “perfection” and wondering if they feel inadequate or as if they are missing something by liking how they naturally are.
I think we as society need to understand what we are putting out there and how we are affecting people. There are countless campaigns for real beauty for women that are promoting self esteem and healthy body image. Maybe it’s because I am a woman and I haven’t been looking for them but I still feel that we are missing the same sort of support for men.
Personally, I don’t want a man with fifteen abs. I don’t want a man who spends three hours of his day in the gym in order to look a certain way. I don’t want a man who takes more time to get himself ready for a date than I do. I don’t want a man who makes waxing appointments more often than I do because I would rather date an adult instead of feeling like I am face to face with a twelve year old’s chest. I would rather he has a bit of flab on his belly but a book in his bag, a gym membership that hasn’t been used in two months but a love for walking around the city, and a medicine cabinet that holds no trace of specialty hand lotion but no hand has ever felt better in mine. And I would rather him not freaking out because he is a grown up and grew hair on his chest and is worried that I am going to be grossed out by it.
I want us all to be who we are. I want us all to be who we want to be. I want us all to be comfortable with what we’ve been given inside and out. In our world today it is hard to achieve this with all of the insane amounts of images and diet tips and workout regimes and beauty products that are thrown at us every day. I want us to feel like we can be human, make mistakes, look a little shitty one day but know that someone out there is still going take a second look because they find us attractive.
And I want this for women. And I want this for men.
Because it’s what we all deserve.