“Dear men, what’s preventing you from looking like this?”
This meme, originating from a tweet accompanied by a picture of a buff guy, gained popularity in May 2020. People have had their fun with it, replacing the pictures with golden statues, Shrek, a centaur, among many other absurd things.
On a more serious note, maybe this tweet-turned-meme might be anchored into a more political ground. For years and years and years, the human body has been subjected to societal expectations. Most of them are unrealistic and bordering on unhealthy, and a lot of this pressure falls on women.
The Pressure of Looking Good
The pressure of conforming to society’s expectations has cost women their health and worse, their lives. Eating disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders with the highest mortality rate, and those who are diagnosed are mostly young women from 12-25 years old. 85% of women who get breast augmentation surgeries have their health on the line due to complications.
This doesn’t take away the imposed ideal bodies of men. Like the one in the original tweet of the meme, it’s a buff guy with abs. An example would be a recent debate sparked by Zac Efron’s body in Netflix’s Down to Earth and The New York Post calling it a ‘dad bod’ in a tweet. Zac Efron himself calls to his audience not to glamorize his Baywatch body, as it gives very little leeway for freedom.
These don’t mean you can’t look good, though, as long as it doesn’t come at the demise of your overall health and well-being. After all, feeling good about yourself is beneficial for confidence and self-esteem. You can focus on your personal style, hygiene, and shifting perspectives on fitness.
The thing about personal style is you don’t need to subscribe to the current fashion trend. Your basic shirts are fine as well as that one guy’s floral blazer set. The key to finding your personal style is through experimentation.
A cheaper way to find unique items is at the thrift store, but you can also check online for better deals. Or visit both. Who knows? You might find vintage denim pants that match well with the safety boots you purchased online to achieve a give-me-the-toolkit kind of look.
Remember that the end goal of searching for your personal style is to mix-and-match items that would help you find a common denominator in the outfits you like. It’s to make sure that your personality reflects in your outfits and that you identify with them, so you can feel confident to take over any situation.
Men, it’s important to take care of your skin. Invest in a good body lotion and a skincare routine that works for you. The internet is hefty with information about cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreen, toners, essences–the entire Korean 10-step routine. Consider consulting it to start your own regimen. You can start with the basics: cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. That’s enough to keep you from looking crusty.
If you have a beard, remember to trim it properly, from the mustache to the neckline. Beard oil and beard balm should help you manage and keep it looking fresh. On days when you shave it all, aftercare is necessary to avoid infection, burns, and ingrown hair.
Oh, and don’t forget: deodorant.
Change the Way You Think of Fitness
Fitness is not just about gaining muscles and looking a certain way. It’s only “a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity,” according to Medical News Today.
People must think of it as the simple task of exercise. Exercise has so many health benefits that it’s like a pill that solves and prevents a lot of problems. It helps beat lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. It contributes to mental health as well, releasing the happy hormone, reduces stress, and regulates mood. Having a good morning exercise can also replace a cup of coffee when it comes to energizing you throughout the day.
Fitness is a lot of things: cardiovascular health, endurance, strength, etc. It’s not just about the way people look, so as much as possible, don’t beat yourself up.
Looking good should be about yourself. How do you feel in your outfit, your appearance, and your body? Every person is built differently, so there’s no way everyone can fit into the same mold. Instead of thinking about society, think about how you can be comfortable with yourself. It might not be easy to do, and it’s a lot of work, but you’ll get there.