Must measure up 

Boys pressured by society’s standards

By Brody Berrios, News Editor

It’s a common social media post: a person flexing one arm in a mirror, a phone in their other hand. And it’s also commonly known that the rise of social media has come with a rise in body image issues among teenage girls. What’s less commonly known is the effect on teenage boys.

“Seeing these posts on Instagram and TikTok makes me super self-conscious about my body and it makes me feel like I must go to the gym,” said a male student who withheld his name for fear of what others would think of him. 

The ideal male body image is connected to the topic of toxic masculinity, which pertains to the stereotypical set of attitudes associated with men stating how they should act. According to John Leimer, in an article in Psychology Today where he details his history with the issue, “Toxic masculinity tells us it’s a dog-eat-dog world, every man for himself and we must have wealth, status, and power by any means necessary, even if it means hurting or using others.”

Starting from a young age, men are told to be strong, independent and masculine. Some men are even taught to suppress their emotions, never cry, and never ask for help or else they’d be a “burden” on others. As a result, if a man shows any signs of vulnerability, they are shamed.

“Having to look at all the other boys at school makes me feel the need to work out without them having to say anything about my appearance,” sophomore Camry Le said. 
Working out in the gym can be healthy if it serves a goal other than changing one’s physical appearance to feel accepted by other people. 

Sophomore Aiden Lennon said that he lifts weights regularly because he is “dead set on getting ready for next year’s football season.” Positive affirmations can be a big part of someone’s self-improvement journey, but sometimes that is not always the case. Sometimes harmless physical appearance jokes can be fun and meaningless at first but as time moves on they start to pile up as it’s not easy for everyone to lose or gain weight as it might be for another person.

      “ I think we are all being influenced by the bombardment of images and videos telling us how to behave, what to look like and what to buy,” family therapist Andrea Fulcher said. “If you experience those toxic masculinity comments, try to offer an alternative viewpoint. Of course, there are adults on campus too who can help students navigate those situations. My first go-to is always the school counselors.”

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