One aspect of the media that has plagued men since they were born are television advertisements. These advertisements frame how a man should act and look. In the examples in the clip below, one can find what men are supposed to look like (strong, ripped, muscular, and tan), what they should desire (“exotic” women), and how they should be the saviors to all of the poor, helpless women.
One aspect of masculinity that I believe is often looked over is male body image. The media often associated body image with women, but when men see commercials like these, there is no doubt that many of them feel as though they should live up to this image. To be sure, I once bought into these ads. I mean, just look at how muscular and physique they are, attracting all of the women! Well that’s what they media shows us, anyways. So I was determined to work out as much as possible in order to have a ripped body like these guys. No matter how hard I tried (many times to the point of extreme exhaustion), I never quite achieved this image, and it was really tough on me. To put this in perspective, if images such as these are constantly shown across various forms of media to young men growing up, they already know what a “real” man should look like. At least if they want to attract the ladies. On a slight tangent going off of this point, all of these commercials take a heteronormative point of view and assume that every male identifies as heterosexual and are only attracted to women. How must this feel to young men struggling with their sexual identity, when they may not be attracted to women, yet are shown by the media that women are who they are supposed to be attracted to?
It is important to help our students understand that they do not have to live up to the image portrayed by the media to be accepted by others. In reality, 99% of people do not look like this anyways. There will surely be times where men consistently feel like they can not live up to these images portrayed by the media, and it is here where we must help them. Do not get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of fitness and healthy living, but not to the point where it is detrimental. So if we come across these students, it is possible we could help connect them with groups that emphasize fitness in a healthy, fun way such as intramural sports, fitness clubs, etc. There, they could meet others who could hopefully be a support/friend base system for them, as well as help debunk myths that all men should look how the media says they should. We just have to be aware that men have been exposed to these images their whole life, so many may be experiencing negative feelings because of this in regard to body image. Many man simply do not have the physical build to look like these men, no matter how hard they work out. I am a prime example of this, as I am not extremely tall for a man, nor do I have a huge body frame. I had to have people help me understand and accept who I am, and that if I wanted to work out that it was fine, but was also told not to overly obsess with it so that it consumed my life. Our college men need people like this in their lives, in order to help debunk these myths and help them be comfortable in their own skin.