Some of my most popular articles have been about positive body image and how men struggle with the way they look, yet are reluctant to discuss it with those around them. I wanted to go into how the discovery of my own personal style has helped me overcome some of my biggest body issues, as well as talk about the challenges I face every day in the hope to promote discussion around the subject matter.
We Are Surrounded by Bad Imagery
It is important to take into account that, thanks to celebrity culture, tabloid scrutiny and changes in beauty standards found in male advertising, the imagery we are faced with daily is of the “perfect” masculine figure. This is the chiseled, muscular body of the protein supplement/gym adverts in every train station, the designer stubble and “bed head” hair framed in crisp black and white in those moisturiser adverts you see. These unrealistic expectations of beauty have been present in female-focused media since media began and are still a huge issue in modern society.
However, brands like Dove are beginning to change their direction to focus on all types of beauty, looking at real women and promoting self acceptance. This evolution, though still small, is even less visible in male-focused media and, as such, our own sense of self-worth and confidence is ground down on a day-by-day basis. This issue is so prominent that The Good Men Project released an article detailing how, in a study conducted within 14 men who had muscle dysmorphia (perceived smallness of muscles or weakness), half had attempted suicide.
You ARE Enough
You must not forget that, through all the advertising bullshit and “motivation” that seeks to degrade self-acceptance, you are enough and people love you because of who you are and not the way you look. The only person focusing on the way you look is you, likely due to comparison to the media mentioned above. Confidence stems from the ability to love yourself and this is not something to ever feel ashamed of. By accepting who you are and enjoying what makes you the person you are, you can begin to see yourself in a healthier, more positive light.
A great lesson I was taught was how to take a compliment if given one. Many people tend to overcompensate when complimented and become super modest, brushing it off as the person being “silly” or overly generous. Instead, next time someone says something positive about you, thank them and express your gratitude. You’ll find that this slowly helps build up your confidence in the way you look and gives you a bedrock that you can fall back on when you don’t feel great about yourself.
Ultimately, just learn not to be so hard yourself. You deserve to feel good.
Wear What Makes YOU Feel Good
I’ve made it a point on this blog to keep it about personal style and discovering what works for an individual, rather than trying to jump on every trend of the moment. If you think about it, when you see style icons like Bruno Mars wearing eccentric styles and outlandish clothing, they always look incredible. Why? It’s not because they’re are more capable of wearing flashy clothes, it’s because they own those looks and exude confidence. They feel comfortable and that radiates their own happiness in the way they look.
I’m not saying you need to go out and feel like god’s gift to fashion in outlandish outfits, but what you can do is find clothing that makes you feel good. Don’t buy clothes because other people think they look good and don’t invest in outfits that the magazines/Instagram tells you are the “hot trend”. Spend your money on items that you’re proud to wear and make you feel happy in the image you present to the world, then take pride in that comfort. No one can pull off every type of outfit (for example, I look like an idiot in a snapback), so discover what works on your body and makes you feel good. Your confidence in your own image will grow massively.
Inspiration over Imitation
This is something I try to incorporate into my style every single day, by finding looks that I love (on celebrities, bloggers, Instragrammers etc.) and then adapting certain elements into my own looks, my personal style can evolve without me duplicating an outfit that isn’t suitable for me. Copying exact looks is a surefire way to end up wearing something that doesn’t suit you, which will ultimately make you feel uncomfortable and affect your self confidence. Instead, try to adopt certain elements and themes into your styles and evolve them as you go along. Work on a trial and error basis, keeping the looks you love and getting rid of ones that don’t work.
Ultimately, don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with new styles because you CAN pull them off. What I would advise against is trying to imitate a look that someone else has created to suit their style. It’s like learning any new process, find what works for you, develop the skill and move forward until you find a new element to master. There’s no set format and there are no wrong answers, just know you don’t need to copy anyone. You’re good enough to create your own style.
Conclusion? Self Acceptance & Patience
If I were to summarise my advice, it would be to just be less critical of yourself and take your time. If you feel like you’re being too harsh on yourself, take a moment, assess whether what you’ve said is true (it’s not) and move forward. Take pride in an outfit you know you look good in and don’t take shit from anyone! Also, don’t forget to take your time and be deliberate. rushing yourself will only make you more anxious and stress you out further. There’s no reason for you to be hasty so relax a little and enjoy experimenting, you’ll find it gets easier the more time you put into it.
Thanks for checking out the post guys and, as always feel free to share it or like it if you enjoyed the read. Tweet me your favourite outfits that you know you look great in with #PositiveBodyImage to help encourage discussion. If you want, you can comment (anonymously) with your own experiences with body image issues and what you have learnt from them. Maybe you’re still working through them. Maybe you don’t want to confront them. No matter what the situation, know that there is support out there and it starts with talking to someone.