You don’t read much about male body issues. I read a lot about body image issues, but it’s pretty much all written by females and for females. I can’t recall a single article I’ve ever read about male body image issues. It’s as if they don’t exist. The world is trying to get women to feel better about their bodies, but they’re pretty much ignoring the men. Women aren’t the only ones with body fears.
I have pretty serious body image issues. I mean, how could I not? Yes, I’m 6′ tall, but I weigh upwards of 550 pounds. Even when I weighed 350, I hated my body. Now, I wear pants with a 56″ waist. I wear size 5XLT shirts. There is literally no store in my town of 180,000 people that sells clothing in my size. There was, but it closed down last year. I have to buy my clothing online and I pay at least $40 for a single t-shirt, and that’s the cheapest item I buy. The selection is fucking horrible too. Women have an entire industry dedicated to making cute clothes for big girls. There is nothing of the sort for men. If you are over a 2XL, good fucking luck finding something cool to wear. Even the big & tall places think big guys only want to wear suits, button ups, or polos. I want to fucking wear geek wear. I want Star Wars and Deadpool, not plaid button-ups. You would think the comic book industry would understand this.
I only own 7 shirts. Not because I don’t want more, but because they are the only ones I could find that didn’t suck. I own one hoody. It’s literally the only one I could find, and they don’t make it anymore. Pants are easier to find, but they pretty much only want to make cargo pants, dress pants, or jeans. I’m not sure if that’s a universal thing though as even when I was less fat, I only wore Dickies pants and shorts. Really, they don’t make much clothing for big guys and that which they do make is super fucking expensive and not at all a style I want to wear.
This is about more than just clothes though. The US already hates fat people, but they seem to hate fat men the most… unless they’re funny. In media, the only fat men are either constantly shamed and the butt of all jokes, or they are the one making the jokes. John Goodman, Billy Gardell, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Ralphie May, Gabriel Iglesias. These are some of the very few positive male role models of size that I have. Of them all, Goodman is the only one that ever had anything other than funny roles. I realize that women don’t have many either, but they do have Oprah, Melissa McCarthy, Mo’Nique, Roseanne Barr, Mia Tyler (pretty sure there isn’t a SINGLE big male model…), and so many more. Big women in media still take shit for being big, but they are respected and don’t have to rely solely on how funny they are to get respect. They can get respect because of who they are, not how they act. And people stick up for them.
This is also evident in porn. There’s an entire and very large (no pun intended) genre of porn dedicated to large women. For the most part, they are not portrayed as disgusting or gross and are even referred to as “Big Beautiful Women” (BBW). There’s really no corresponding genre for men (I’ve looked). Yes, porn is directed at men, but there’s really no representation of big men in porn. If they are there, it is purely for ridicule and disgrace. The men in porn are almost always muscular, or at the very least, skinny. Even the creepy ones aren’t fat.
Men don’t take as much crap in the media for being big though, so that could help explain why there is less talk about body issues with men. Men are generally allowed a bit more “wiggle” room in their size. The acceptable size for men is a bit larger than it is for women. That doesn’t mean all sizes are accepted though. If you’re exceptionally large (as in, not just 15-25 lbs overweight), you’re probably going to get dirty looks because of your size. I know women go through this as well, but they have support. They have people that speak out for them and help to change this perception. Men don’t really have support like that.
Women, now, are taught to embrace their body. That all types are okay and that you should not feel shame for your body type. Guys don’t really get that. Nobody really talks about our bodies. There are no blogs dedicated to making us all feel as though we are normal. There are no photography exhibits showing off all of the different sizes of men or nationwide commercials saying that real men have curves. Society says that men do not have issues with their body image. They deal with personality but ignore that our bodies affect us the way that a woman’s body affects her. Men are not supposed to have body issues. That’s a woman issue.
In the end, I’m not trying to say that women have it easier. Not at all. Our society is still gender-biased towards males. I know that this issue is difficult for both sexes. What I am trying to say though, is that men do not have the support that women have. If you are not a physically fit alpha male trying to dominate everything in sight, you are not considered at all. If you have issues with how you look you’re told to suck it up because nobody cares.
Or, I could be completely off with all of this and I just haven’t looked hard enough/don’t know where to look. I don’t know. I just know that as I wrote this blog and read others about body issues, I felt very alone as a big man having issues with his size. Because of that, I lashed out some. I know that women have it rough as well, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to be upset about this either.