As a woman experiencing weight loss and weight related issues I write from my point of view. A couple of weeks ago I sat on a panel at the hospital where I had my surgery. There were several of us there representing different stages of post op and the people interested in surgery had the opportunity to ask questions.
For the first time, there was a man on the panel when I was there. There’s always been men in the room seeking surgery but I never had a man on the post op panel with me. I’m so grateful he was there because by his presence there was more participation from the men in the room. This was eye opening to me and so much so it’s sat on my mind these past few weeks.
I’ve lways considered weight issues universal. I clearly learned the difference with weight and men in that meeting. They were discussing the way men treat one another from a high level of joking around or expectations of masculinity that aren’t synonymous with being uncomfortable in their own skin. It seemed like they almost felt as if they weren’t entitled to have body image issues.
How many men have been raised to “man up” and “not cry.” As time goes by, I think we as a society may be better about this but I kept looking at that room of men in the thirty, forty, fifty year old range and wondering which ones may be living with those expectations still. I wondered how many times they tried to talk about their weight or body image and was dismissed.
The conversation was excellent and the gentleman on the panel lost 200lbs and he was able to answer these questions from his point of view. It really made a difference in the way that I will relate with men when they ask me questions about weight loss.
The next several days I kept thinking of that conversation. I started to think of the covers of magazines and how they’ve always photoshopped women into these impossible ideals but they do the same thing for men. The same pressure is there but the level of understanding may not be.
I needed to know more about the experiences men face when wanting to lose weight. When looking up articles on male body image I discovered this:
The difficulties men face with unrealistic beauty standards, pressure to look like magazine covers, and eating disorders is not new. What is knew, however, is that men are standing up and speaking out, seeking treatment, and beginning the conversation about these issues. Read more on this at the GirlTalkHQ story HERE.
After 30 years of suffering with my weight I’ve discovered that losing weight is extremely hard work. From my own experience, that work is equally emotional as well as physical. Food issues frequently start with – or are deepened by – an emotional issue. As we seek to put distance between those issues or feelings food becomes a way to cope. Our culture, daily habits, and expectations add to the difficulty of changing these behaviors. Men have all the same issues but may not have the same platform or level of understanding to speak about them. That needs to change.
Thank you to all the men who are taking the reigns and guiding these conversations and breaking this barrier. Lives are being transformed by your words and your experiences.