These days, the media are concentrating a lot on advocating women, teaching acceptance to people around the world on differences in race, skin color, language, sizes — the whole enchilada. But what about men? The silent, nondescript figures lurking the background, keeping mum about the entire thing?
Granted, most of the media are blaming men for the overt sexual objectification of women, but what we fail to realize in the midst of our body-acceptance movements is that men do go through the same thing. I suppose we see silence as … I don’t know, complacency? Of course when you ask them, they’d say they’re perfectly alright with themselves as they rub their beer belly and crack open another beer can. It’s that natural smugness, confidence, egotistical behavior that somehow reassures (or oftentimes, make us feel like they don’t understand the suffering of women since the advent of the media) us that they are A-OK. No problemo. No hay problema. Pas de problème.
We’ve heard many terms already; Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Battle of the Sexes, Adam vs Eve, EQ vs IQ, Logical vs Illogical. But I think we are more similar to each other than what people usually deem us to be (which is quite low to be honest), pertaining to self-acceptance.
I am quite bewildered by how fast society is changing right before my eyes. All of a sudden, there is a whole deluge of campaigns on fitness, with those annoying hashtags #thinspiration, #fitnessfirst and the most revolting #thethighgap. (My personal favorite is #justshutthehellup, but it didn’t make it to trending.) Suddenly, a lot of guys I know started frequenting the gym. Suddenly, protein shakes are what’s on the menu. Suddenly, drinking eggs is a morning ritual. Suddenly, they got worried about what they ate (need more protein, need more meat, can’t eat carbs, etc.). Honestly, I detested it whenever anything regarding all that appeared on my news feed or made its way through happy, carefree conversations. And then things got gloomy and tense. It got lots worse when it started happening to people that were close to me.
At first I thought it was a phase; it happens, it’ll go. But that phase never really left. It grew into this toxic thing that began scratching the lovely parts of their personality, the carefree part. The non-conscious screw-all part was slowly ebbing away, and that is truly sad. Where did that person go — the person who would be so proud to walk around shirtless, belly-bouncing all the way? When did this I-desperately-need-a-six-pack person replace you?
I am told that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So now, I am telling you, before the light completely vanishes forever.
To all the fathers, brothers, lovers and friends out there who are struggling to keep up with these self-critical times, this is for you:
You are so damned beautiful.
You laugh, because men are not accustomed to being called beautiful, but that is what you are. You prefer cool, macho or strong but believe me when I say it is a privilege to be called beautiful.
For centuries now, people having been waxing poetry about women — their curves, their hair, chests, buttocks, their demeanor. Famous paintings have been made by artists, all in appreciation of the female body and existence.
But men, you are something else entirely. You are beautiful in your differences, your contrasts. Your hard physique and your sharp lines, contrasting with a woman’s soft curves and smooth contours.
You take up a lot of space when you sit — legs open, arms thrown back. It is a sign of uninhibitedness and self-assurance, even if you wear washed-out jeans that are ripped at the hems.
You may stick out in odd angles, and you may have knobby knees, but that’s you. You may be small in frame or large in stature, or you may eat a lot but never gain weight, or eat less but never seem to get rid of those love handles, but that’s the way you are. You’re not made to have a six-pack if you kill yourself over it and most of all if you get sad over it. Sure, everyone swoons at a muscular guy on TV or the billboard — but that’s what they are for. Only for TV and magazines and the like.
You, on the other hand, are made for someone and something else. You’re meant to cushion people who cry to you, you’re meant to put your strong arms to comfort your daughters, sisters or wives when they’re upset. We appreciate your sturdy-strong body, made for fixing stuff in the kitchen or changing the light bulb. It’s these small things you think don’t matter, but it means a lot. You’re the breadwinners, the men of our lives. You mean so much to us more than a couple of nice-looking abs and or if you look dashing in a certain attire or not.
Every man looks good in a suit, whatever size they may come in. So please do not feel that pressure to get into a certain size in order to look good. You always look good. In a crisp suit, in a too-tight swimsuit or in a too-loose baggy jumper or in your ratty house-clothes filled with holes and hanging threads, you will always look good to us.
Your look of concentration when you work or are trying to fix something you were asked to, that looks better than smoldering looks from hotshot actors. You are soft, but not woman-soft, regardless of how thin or big you are.
You will always smell like home, regardless of how expensive the cologne is. You smell like mint, like family, like a comrade, like peace. Best of all, you smell like strength.
You are safety, you are protection.
We love everything you have, and everything you can give. And those who want more than you can give, even at first impression, truly do not deserve you.