A preoccupation with physical appearance has long been considered a ‘woman thing’. However, such a preoccupation is actually gender neutral. It is common to find a lot of women fussing about their weight, their body shape, and other perceived shortcomings of their appearance, but men do it too.

With the media bombarding audiences with pictures of perfect men and women and the ideals of beauty becoming carved in stone, it is not unusual to find everyone stressing over their appearance.

Men vs. Women – Who Worries About Appearances More?

A recent study from the UK negates the generally accepted notion of women being more concerned about their looks than men. In fact, The Guardian reports that more men worry about how they look than women.

As men grow older, their hanging pooches, or “beer bellies” as we have come to lovingly call them, become a matter of stress and concern. Men also worry about bulky chests (AKA “man boobs”) and male pattern baldness which afflicts many across the world.

Some Shocking Statistics

Four in every five men are likely to be anxious to some degree about their perceived flaws and imperfections. In a surprising revelation from a study commissioned by the Central YMCA, 38% of men would willingly sacrifice a year from their life to get the perfect body.

Men who have such high levels of anxiety about their appearances are more likely to give in to compulsive exercising, perpetual use of laxatives, yo-yo dieting, and other extreme measures in an attempt to lose weight and look ‘good’.

The Effects Of Flawed Self Perceptions

Men who are overweight are likely to be anxious about their appearance. This can lead to internal thoughts and questions such as, “How can I get the girl I want if I’m fat?” or “Will I ever get a beautiful girlfriend?”

The role of media and films in perpetuating a fixed standard of beauty and making it skin deep cannot be denied. When men and women stress about their appearance, they tend to forget about the other good things that are happening in their lives. This constant preoccupation with their appearance can often be more dangerous than the extra weight they are carrying.

Dr. Susan Harter, the head of the Department of Development Psychology at the University of Denver recently published a paper on ‘The Inextricable Link Between Physical Appearance and Self-Esteem‘. In today’s world, self-perceptions of appearance are very closely linked with self-esteem and to an extent, even self-love. This is a dangerous path we are treading, especially because it leads us to becoming a society that is self-obsessed.

It is important, therefore, to link self-esteem to more important and genuine qualities of our personality, instead of letting media messages deter us from being positive, life affirming people. Though disregarding the powerful imagery directed by the media is not always easy, self-punishment can be gradually turned into self-love, and self-esteem can be raised with a genuine interest in oneself.

As a society, we should adopt an outlook where the worth of a person is based on their inner qualities and not just their appearance. Your weight isn’t a sentence to spend the rest of your life alone. Even if you’re fat, you can still get the girl you want.