27 Mar Breaking the myth of the male body stereotype
When people think about the body positive movement they usually think of women. Women’s bodies have been criticized endlessly over this years, but what about men? They’ve grown up watching muscled heroes on television and neither are they immune from the same unrealistic social pressures and physical stereotypes portrayed in media. Even the actors playing these roles don’t keep their bodies in these peak conditions because it’s difficult, if not sometimes unhealthy, to do so. I am not an expert in bodybuilding, but I do know that right before competitions many athletes intentionally dehydrate themselves, ridding water weight in order to have their muscles look more pronounced. But they don’t look like that year-round. Don’t get me wrong, I think bodybuilding is amazing and these men and women are super strong-willed people and that’s inspiring. That being said, bodybuilding is a lot of work at the gym and it’s not for everyone.
Have you ever noticed how the leading men in movies, who always get the women, are successful, and well- respected from everyone are typecast? They are often over 6” tall, with broad shoulders, usually thick hair, chiseled jawline, and don’t forget the six pack gratuitously shown off when the male lead has to take off his shirt multiple times during the movie. Just in case you didn’t know, with his shirt on, that he is in fact ripped.
In reality, few men are over 6 feet tall, most don’t have a broad body frame and a full set of thick hair, and few can hit the gym for hours each day to have be able to achieve this look. In fact, many men, even if they hit the gym regularly and did all the workouts and meal planning required, would not look like these men even if they tried. For that reason, just like women, there should not be one (unrealistic) body type that is considered ideal.
Of course men can be handsome no matter their height, the amount of hair they have on their heads (or bodies), their weight, their muscle mass, or the colour of their skin. We are all unique and thank god for that. It would be a really boring world if everyone looked the same. Instead, we should embrace what we have and do our best to be the healthiest and the most positive as we can.
I had the honour of photographing my step-brother, Luke, for a male body positive session. First of all, I should say, that anyone who does a body positive session is brave. I love body positive shoots because they are not only empowering for those being photographed, but also confidence-boosting for viewers who have body types like the rest of us, that they haven’t seen well-represented in fashion or mainstream media.
I’ve known Luke since I was 3 years old, when our moms would walk us to the neighbourhood bus stop. We were both in the same kindergarten class and have been friends ever since. Much later in life, we officially became family when my dad married his mom years after they got divorced. So we go way back. Even though as a kid I didn’t play with Luke and my brother and the rest of the guys in the neighbourhood (because I find Nintendo boring and don’t get me started on sports), I still thought of all the guys including Luke as good friends.
Photographing those who are close to you adds a different element that makes those photos just that much more special. I love photographing my family and friends. You know their history and their personality and it’s rewarding to capture it in the moments where it breaks through the seriousness of a session.
Luke is very inspirational. He blows my mind what he can do athletically. He runs marathons, does triathlons, has always been a really good swimmer, and plays sports such as golf. He’s active and in great shape, which is what we should strive for – not unrealistic body stereotypes. He has strong passion for sports and I think that’s really cool. I too like to go for runs around the block up to 5 km but past that I find it exhausting.
I believe that everyone needs to love their body now. Treat it well by eating well and get some exercise even if that’s walking your dog. Your body is the only one you get and it’s your vessel in life. Give it the love it deserves and correct the negative self-talk. Your body hears what your brain says and it doesn’t deserve the negativity.