by Rebecca Weinberg
A recent survey released by YouGov has revealed that nearly three out of every 10 Scottish men have experienced anxiety due to body image.
The survey is being promoted during Movember – a movement which encourages men to grow a moustache during the month of November, in order to support men’s health issues.
Julie Cameron, head of programmes at the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “There is evidence to suggest that body image issues in men are becoming more pronounced. Men can also find it more difficult to talk about their mental health and to seek help.”
Matthew Cameron, 24, has struggled with body image issues in the past. He admitted: “I’d feel that my body was disproportionate. I’d focus on my short torso, thick legs, weak jaw, and not only would I feel ugly, I’d feel emasculated – like this isn’t what a man is meant to look like. I also felt my body was a sign of my own weakness and lack of discipline. I still feel like that a lot.”
Matthew said that he’d typically only share his insecurities with romantic partners. He said: “Whenever we’d break up I’d feel even worse about my image and have no one to talk to. Men are taught to dump all their emotional baggage on their significant other from a young age.”
The security guard and student talked about the steps he has taken to overcome negative body image. Matthew began working out at the gym, focusing more attention on his dress sense, and also got tattoos. These things, he said, helped him feel more comfortable in his own body.
Finally, he shared: “It’ll sound stupid, but just being alone and naked was a massive help. It really helped normalise my body and make it seem less foreign to me.”
“I’d like to send the message that [negative body image] happens to a lot of men, and that it’s nothing to be ashamed about.”