It is not news that the male ego is a fragile one and once in a while, they need reassurances. Sex and anxiety go together like socks and flip-flops; i.e. not well at all. Men feel a bit insecure, whether they are aware of this or not. When it comes to the bedroom, however, men are particularly prone to doubting themselves. Unfortunately, sexual insecurities can have a devastating effect on their sex lives, relationships and self-esteem.
We tend to think women are the only ones who experience major body insecurities, but new research has found that’s just not the case. The Chapman University study analyzed reports from more than 100,000 men across five national studies and discovered that up to 40 percent of men were dissatisfied with their overall physical appearance, weight, and/or muscle tone and size.
Most men also felt that they were judged by others based on their appearance and said they’ve compared the way they look with other men at social events. Researchers also looked at the differences in body hang-ups between gay and heterosexual men. While they found that gay men were more likely to feel pressure to look attractive (and even avoid sex because of body insecurities), they found that heterosexual men experienced a lot of the same issues—even if they weren’t overweight.
In fact, 20 percent of heterosexual men with a normal weight said they hide some aspect of their body during sex. The most common areas they hid: their stomach, followed by their chest, butt and thighs, and genitals. Other interesting findings: 30 percent of heterosexual men say they’re dissatisfied with their muscle tone and size 23 percent.
What Is Sexual Performance Anxiety?
Performance anxiety is more likely to occur in people who have insecurities about their sexual abilities, body type, or those who care too much about how proficient they are in bed. This is labeled as a social phobia under social anxiety in the DSM-V by the American Psychiatric Association. Social phobias are pronounced fears of exposure in social situations that provoke anxiety in people, and which can manifest both physically and mentally. Here are some insecurities experienced by men
- Their performance in bed
- The way he perceives his body to be
- Past relationships and exes
- The size of his penis
- External forces which support these insecurities
Factors causing male insecurities
The first step in conquering one’s body-image and sexual concerns is to recognize some of the external forces that drive body-image worries for people.
Different cultures glamorize different body types. For instance, Filipino culture values fatness because it is a symbol of wealth and strength. Western culture, on the other hand, glamorizes strength in men because of the West’s Eurocentric ideals of beauty. Cultural preferences play a huge role in defining the “ideal” body type. While one culture may find thin bodies to be the ideal, another may find this unattractive. Beauty is entirely subjective, so there is no real way to define a “good” or “bad” body.
The rise of social media has put an emphasis on the scrutiny of men’s bodies. Social-media health bloggers with huge followings and vast influence are able post photos and videos that reach large audiences. Under the guise of “fitspiration,” these influencers post enhanced photos that display idealized versions of male bodies. These unrealistic depictions of the body are then reproduced all over social media and enforce improbable body standards.
The media strengthens and influences these unrealistic ideals through its specific casting of models and actors and through the messages it delivers. In a study published by the National Eating Disorders Association, researchers concluded that 1 in every 3.8 television shows in the West communicate an “attractiveness message.” The purpose of an attractiveness message is to inform viewers of what is or is not physically ideal in the eyes of media producers. These attractiveness messages portray extreme thinness as ideal and more desirable than a normal, healthy weight. Exposure to these attractiveness messages impose unrealistic body standards for people with vastly different body types.
The Fitness Industry
Body image issues are not only a concern to women. The “Adonis Complex” is a term that describes how men can also form a negative body image. Adonis, from Greek mythology, was half-man, half-god. He had a perfect body and was supposedly so beautiful that even Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was amazed. The Adonis Complex suggests that men may compare themselves to unobtainable standards and become very critical of their bodies.
The Fitness industry has a particularly detrimental effect on the body image of men. Men with various physical builds and genetic makeup are told that attractiveness is based on height and muscular body build. This narrative is reproduced in advertisements for fitness programs and by male models. Men often feel inadequate and some even turn to body enhancing drugs which have detrimental effects on the body.
How can you develop a positive sense of self?
- Attention: Listen for and respond to internal cues, such as hunger, satiety, and fatigue. Basically, get back in touch with your body and its signals. A person’s body is excellent at regulating and letting a person know what it needs in order to perform optimally.
- Appreciation: Appreciate everything your body allows you to do and the pleasure it provides. It is because of your body that you can engage in the activities you love and enjoy what life has to offer.9Realize and remember that! It may be wise to write a list of all of the things you love about your body, not only its physical characteristics but also its abilities. Think of all the activities you love to do. Each time you look in the mirror, think about at least one of the things on that list. Smile to yourself as you remember all your positive assets.
- Acceptance: Accept what you have rather than long for what you do not. Much of your body composition is predetermined by your genetics. While most people ascribe to the idea that there is a magic weight that indicates health, healthy body weight is simply the weight a person naturally returns to after healthy and non-compulsive eating as well as light and healthy exercise.9Blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiovascular endurance are much better indicators of physical fitness than weight, and body composition can more accurately let you know if your body is healthy.
Some extra tips
- Create a positive relationship with food
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Pick up a healthy activity that you enjoy
- Compile a list of everything that you love about yourself
- Avoid measuring your self-worth on your physical appearance
- Surround yourself with positivity
- Treat your body well
- Seek help when you need it
Having a negative body image is like having your own worst critic in your mind on a daily basis. Having body-image issues happens when a person is uncomfortable and unhappy in their own body. Everyone’s bodies are different. Although the external forces in society may lead you to believe that there is only one ideal body type, these ideals are entirely subjective. It is important to take into account all of the ways this article discusses how to overcome negative body image and to try to implement them into your daily life if you struggle with body-image issues. It is important to celebrate your body and to overcome body-image concerns so that you can return to being comfortable with your body and be able to perform daily tasks with ease and happiness.