Finally, the last installment of the “Menfolk Confess…” series!
If you’re of the male persuasion and would like to read something directed specifically for you, check out these posts:
- The Good Men (a thank you letter to the good guys)
- Men > Ken [Dolls] (a rebuttal to the unrealistic body standards the media places on men)
- Men, It’s Ok… (an encouragement for men to be, well, men)
And now, let’s hear some final confessions from the menfolk. No commentary from me, this time around; their responses are powerful enough on their own.
Question 1: How much do men compare themselves to other men? In terms of what? Is this something you find motivating or discouraging?
- “We compare ourselves all the time, in terms of everything. Physique at the gym, grades in the classroom, and in terms of careers. It’s extremely motivating for me because I don’t want to be the average guy.”
- “In terms of body structure, attitude, confidence, and personality. Guys obviously notice other guys but always try to find a way to make myself more noticeable in a positive light around others. As far as comparing guy to guy, I don’t see a lot of casual competition, but if there are women around or something at stake it can be motivating for ‘next time’ and is occasionally discouraging, but many guys have an ‘on to the next one’ mentality around women.”
- “I think as humans we are all poisoned by the concept of comparison at some level. Currently, my comparison isn’t so much a physical one, but more in terms of ‘success.’…I won’t act like physical comparisons don’t occur…I wonder how much more physically I could achieve if I were to be stronger/taller and all that. And naturally there are moments where you wonder about sexual performance, muscle tone, body type, and it’s correlation to finding a mate.”
- “I compare myself based on looks, clothes, car, job, how cute their girlfriend is, humor, etc…Most of the time I just puff out my chest and say whatever…I feel like guys can get away with a lot (meaning you don’t just have to be attractive. Guys can be good at other stuff and still succeed) so there is a lot of diversity amongst guys.”
- “Men compare each other on size, appearance, dick size, assertiveness, all to see who the alpha is.”
Question 2: What is the social pressure like for men in terms of aesthetics, physique, body image, etc? Are there specific traits that are glorified as the male “ideal” above others? (For example, some women glorify having a “thigh gap” as a marker of ideal leanness…which I think is bullshit but that’s beside the point.) How much does this affect you?
- “I think it has to do with abs and a big penis. That’s about all you hear when it comes to males.”
- “Guys all want to be big and strong, but it you’re not cut, where you can easily see the muscle, it won’t get you far. Lean powerful muscle and a healthy frame is what I strive for and what I have as ‘ideal’ even thought I know I fall very short of that. Social pressure to be in good attractive physical shape is there 100%, but I don’t believe that it is as much a driving factor or as constant a pressure as it is for women on a day in and day out basis.”
- “There is a lot of pressure to work out and get big (‘do you even lift, bro?’). I think guys always know that if they put in some work they could look better so that glimmer of hope keeps our chins up.”
- “I’ve been blessed with a Spartan-like body so no complaints.”
- “For guys, the social pressure is all about abs and core!…It’s all about the 6-pack. I don’t think it’s as ridiculous as this ‘thigh gap’ nonsense, but it’s probably as close to an equivalent as exists for us. (For the record, guys who endorse that term [‘thigh gap’] or try and hold that expectation to their women are pricks, flat out.)”
Question 3: Do you (and/or most men you know) worry very much about your physical appearance? Is there much difference, in your opinion, between the societal pressure to conform to a certain body type for men vs. women?
- “I like to be presentable…I have a pretty high hygiene standard. I do mess with my hair in the morning. And I am self-conscious about body odor, too…Guys can get away with (for the most part) being any body type and be ‘accepted.’ Whereas women are held to a higher standard, and if they do not meet the standard they are almost outcasts.”
- “There are a lot of guys who struggle with it…I got made fun of in high school because of the way I looked and it has been very difficult to not be self-conscious about myself ever since. Society places pressure on everyone, but it is certainly magnified towards women…The only thing the media says makes a man a better man is having a big penis. And there’s nothing any guy can do about that so the pressure is off.”
- “Men are definitely pressured to be more muscular while women [are pressured to be] skinny and fit with softer features. We all know how we look and want to look, but how I feel is most important, like do I feel healthy and full of energy and confident in myself? That is the most important. Of course washboard abs and a visibly more lean frame definitely would be nice, but it’s not something I’m gonna kill myself over.”
- “Media says that guys have to be/act a way to be considered ‘manly,’ but I believe that that stigma is starting to change, from a buff/tall, dark, and handsome look to a more healthy lifestyle instead.”
- “Most guys I know do worry about their physical appearance. However, most married guys I now worry much less about it than single guys or guys who are dating….Men place a much higher level of importance on looks than women (not that women don’t, because they absolutely do). For men, it can be a deal breaker. For women, if a guys is chock full of other redeeming qualities, I’ve always felt that women are much more willing to overlook a beer gut or lack of 22-inch biceps.”
- “I do care about my physical appearance, however the reasoning spans a wide scope of reasons – being able to protect those who I hold close to my heart, pushing my limits on my strength, and just seeing how a different lifestyle affects others in a positive manner.”
- “I want to look a certain way because it helps me in my sport and I enjoy being physically fit. I would say women have it much harder than men as far as the media goes…However, that subject is brought up more frequently than the pressure on men’s appearance.”
- “Yes, we worry about being in shape to what our body [genetically] allows us to be in shape.”
- “I don’t feel a necessity to conform to the weird Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani ad, half-nekkid and smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom men that are supposed to be sexy. I’m athletic and do strength training and aerobic exercise for me because it’s healthy and I would feel lazy if I didn’t care about the muscle functions of my body.”
- “In my profession it is kind of vital to ‘look the part’ as well as play the part. I care about high fashion and how I look daily to be honest. Not just on clothing choices, but lifestyle as well…I can only see so many Ryan Gosling shirtless memes before I feel the need to step up my game.” (Sidenote: THIS is what I have to say about how Ryan Gosling compares to real men.)
- “I struggle with being a people pleaser, so I always worry that people find me ugly [and] that’s why they won’t talk to me. As I’ve started to work out regularly, and see that I have a different body type, I have become more and more confident…I always thought I was supposed to look like Zac Efron, Ryan Gosling, or Bradley Cooper. I felt oppressed by the media because I didn’t look like them or have the butt/abs like them so I was never going to find a girlfriend. I consistently worried about how I looked or if I was good enough to talk to a particular type of girl. I felt worthless because I wasn’t skinny. It wasn’t until very recently where I grew into my own personal dress style, my own personal grooming style (beard, hair, etc.) and my own personality that I felt confident. Working out also helped a lot.”
- “I feel like as a guy it is more important to have a good job and a nice care than to have a great body…For girls, if they are cute, that’s good enough.”
- “Honestly, I feel like I have a great balance…I’m content with how I am, but always striving to be better, and that’s how it should be.”
- “I have bodybuilder’s complex. My muscles are never big enough, but I try and get over it…I know if I work hard and have my priorities straight, I will be attractive.”
- “These days, I would say there is a greater pressure upon men to conform to a specific body standard…it’s largely ignored because most people think it’s ludicrous that men could be affected by social standards in regard to body type…Women are being more accepted across the board in regard to their curves. I wouldn’t say men worry so much about their appearance as they simply CARE about their appearance.”
- “My goal every day is to surpass the men in magazines. I want to shit on Zac Efron’s abs, god damn him, what is his secret?!”
Question 4: What is one choice you’ve made or act you’ve done of which you are truly, deeply proud?
- “I completely switched my drive after high school. Now nothing can stop me from achieving my dreams.”
- “3rd generation collegiate basketball player, able to move away from home/familiarity to become more independent, and becoming self-sufficient upon graduation from college in 4 ½ years!”
- “There are probably two choices I’ve made thus far that I’m proud of. The first being the choice to buy the one-way plane ticket to Sacramento without really a plan to pay for school any family here, and that life change. The second being that I haven’t ever touched booze or drugs in 26 years…I just am proud to know that I’ve been a level head during some not-so-positive scenarios involving those things.”
- “I don’t really dwell on things I’ve done. It’s not really my family’s style. But if I had to pick something it would be being generous and positive.”
- “Joined the Marine Corps.”
Question 8: Do you have a goal or ideal that you are passionate for or drives your life? (Please elaborate beyond a standard answer like “my faith.”)
- “Living in a skyscraper downtown. Having a closet full of suits. Providing everything I am for the one I love.”
- “My goal in life is to be a successful person who enjoys his job but has flexibility with time commitments to be with friends/family while also having monetary comfort to support my extended family while also giving back to my community without jeopardizing my own future. I’d like it to be centered around an active lifestyle, but beyond that I’m 23 with a college degree and no idea where I’m headed or what I’ll end up doing.”
- “A goal I have is to achieve the financial freedom to be able to make an impact on people that I care about. I want to know the long hours and career path I have chosen will be a break-even point some day and allow me to leverage that financial freedom to make an impact.”
- “I’m still trying to figure that question out for my life. I’ll let you know when I do.”
So, what did yall think?
Remember, up next is the “Dames Confess…” series! So, menfolk, if you have any questions you’d like answered by a lady, send them my way and you will have some (very honest) answers coming up in the next couple weeks.
And once again, thank you to all the fellas who helped out by participating in this survey!