Story at a glance

  • Less than half of men in the U.S. and U.K. like the way they look, according to a new study.
  • Just 27 percent of respondents said male body positivity overall was well represented in mainstream media.
  • Even men with “ideal” bodies said they were insecure.

Less than half of men in the U.S. and U.K. are satisfied with their appearance, according to a new study. 

Just 42 percent of men in a study conducted by the U.K. pharmacy site Superdrug said they are happy with the way they look, and perceptions of “ideal” male bodies fell short of reality.

Less than 32 percent of the 1,000 men surveyed said their body type was adaquately represented in mainstream media, and 27 percent said male body positivity, overall, was well-represented.

While they may have been willing to share this information anonymously, 30 percent of men said they feel “unmanly” talking about insecurities or issues with their body, according to the study.


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Men are societally encouraged less than women to express their emotions, and a recent Unicef study found that adolescent boys were much more likely than girls to be told they should not cry or express themselves. Research from the University of Michigan last month found that men are just as emotional as women, despite stereotypes.

Researchers at Superdrug said they were inspired to conduct the study because public focus on the body positivity movement has mostly been on women. A Google image search of the term yields almost no male results.

“On the subject of male body image, the ‘superhero stereotype’ often surfaces,” the researchers wrote, referring to the societal pressure some men face to look like chiseled “superheroes.” 

While most respondents didn’t feel pressure to look “absolutely perfect,” nearly 30 percent said they felt some pressure from society to look a certain way, namely the “superhero” aesthetic. 

Men of all ages recognized that the “superhero” physique was unrealistic, though roughly 30 percent believed a superhero-like body was naturally attainable, while 70 percent said otherwise.

Overall, men were most insecure about their weight and their muscle definition, according to the study, and causes for body insecurity included looking in the mirror, social media and female attention.

Even those with “ideal” body types said they were insecure, leading researchers to conclude that “it’s ultimately an inward reflection that needs to change more than any outward appearance.”


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Published on Nov 23, 2021