The future of masculinity: overcoming stereotypes


Viviana Rivera Lopez

Male beauty standards can affect the way teenage boys feel and how they see themselves.

In the course of history, beauty and behavioral standards for women have been more demanding than men’s. Most men still conform to the masculine stereotypes of their physical appearance and behavior expectations that have been imposed upon them. Why is that?

Many women, regardless of form or size, have shown nothing but love for their bodies in recent years. This is largely due to the body positivity movement’s powerful message of accepting your body despite its imperfections. 

Tik Tok has played a significant part in this movement, and various trends have gone viral as a result. These trends involve girls supporting one another. But what about men? 

“Yeah, I’ve seen many trends where women bring each other up and it’s really cool because like less hate overall. But I’ve also seen a couple of guys showing their insecurities and it’s usually girls in the comment section saying that they would rather be with someone tall or something dumb like that. I think when girls comment they don’t think it affects them but guys have feelings too and just because they don’t show it and act strong it can affect them and discourage them to share their insecurities,” said senior Rebecca Gonzalez. 

Undoubtedly, social media plays a large role in the toxic culture of beauty standards for both men and women. However, while people are aware of the damage being caused to women, no one really talks about or cares about the impact it has on men. 

According to a study conducted in 2018, “far less is known about adolescent boys’ experiences of social media and body image vs. girls, despite the finding that body dissatisfaction is a prevalent and problematic issue among boys and one that is influenced by social media use.”

“I think when we think of beauty standards we think about how someone dresses or looks and stuff but I do feel especially at your guyses age the standards are more on how a guy seems more attractive if they have muscles, they’re built, they’re taller, or things like that so I think theirs is very dependant on physically how they look. Guys aren’t used to being criticized like girls and sometimes it makes them uncomfortable. I also think beauty standards are very dependent on where you live, like the culture where you live is another big part of it too,” said MCHS counselor Janet Montez. 

“Beauty standards are completely unrealistic and I do think there are male beauty standards like men are supposed to be tall, have broad shoulders, have clear skin, and be muscular with a nice smile. This is very harmful to a psychological upbringing for teens,” said sophomore AVID teacher Amy Holte. 

Men have to face the beauty standards that are being put upon them while feeling like they need to maintain their “strong” image.

According to How Men Get Penalized for Straying from Masculine Norms, “Men who show sadness at work are thought of as less deserving of that emotion as compared to sad women.” 

The basic human emotions are divided into four categories. Sadness, anger, happiness, and fear. Are guys now considered less of a person because they may experience sadness?

Why is it important to draw attention to men’s emotions? According to Men and emotions, “The restriction of emotional expression in many men’s lives can lead to:

  • A greater sense of isolation
  • Less support being available from loved ones
  • Health issues, due to carrying chronic tension in the body and other bad coping strategies
  • Relationship difficulties due to an inability to resolve emotional conflicts and/or a perceived lack of ability to be intimate
  • Psychological problems such as depression, insomnia and anxiety.”

This indicates that men have been denied the opportunity to express their feelings. If men express their emotions, which they undoubtedly have, they may be viewed differently since society has constructed a picture of a man who is seen as a caretaker instead of the one being taken care of.

“I mean yeah, I am human, I am supposed to be able to have feelings. I just don’t feel comfortable showing them because it’s not something you see often. I’ve seen a lot of girls have spam accounts on Instagram and that’s kind of a way they get their feelings out there. If I made one I think people would think it’s weird because it’s not seen a lot,” said senior Gabriel Reyes. 

Machismo culture certainly plays a tremendous part in why men aren’t comfortable with talking about their appearances or what they are going through.

“I think that guys have always been expected to be strong. My family is Mexican so my dad always taught me to be strong. In my family, it is only my dad and me so ever since I was little he always told me that while he was gone I was the man of the house. This taught me to always be strong in front of my family. Like if I was stressed over finals or something I never talked about it because I didn’t want them to see me weak. I don’t see this as being wrong because all my friends and family have been raised like this as well,” said senior Jesse Camacho. 

“Guys can be sensitive if they want, but they don’t have to be. Men should be judged by their actions, not by their looks,” said MCHS teacher Edward Valenzuela.