Sex sells and everyone is buying. For years, billboards and magazines have been shaping the way that young women view themselves. Many teen girls feel pressured to look skinny, sexy, and seductive because that’s how most women are portrayed in the media. More and more young women struggle to see themselves as beautiful because they don’t quite fit the mold that has been created by American advertising companies. This is a problem that has plagued the hearts and minds of countless women in the United States and across the globe. Contrary to what the world may like you to believe, this does not stop at young women. This problem also extends to men.
In the same way that women are being negatively impacted by the excessive Photoshopping of actresses and super models, young men are being shamed by the idolization of hypermasculinity in the media. In other words, boys are being pressured to have six pack abs, raging hormones, and an appetite for destruction. Most men in the media are portrayed as fearless, emotionless conquerors who drink for sport and manipulate women. Advertisements and television shows tell us that it’s acceptable for men to be stupid, and they encourage crude and inappropriate behavior from boys. In addition to this, shampoo and body wash commercials seem to only feature men who work out four times a day.
Men are expected to look good all the time, be confident, to be obnoxious, and to have an unquenchable desire for sex. Between Calvin Klein ads, testosterone fueled action movies, and reality television, men are receiving poor signals about how they should walk, talk, look, and think. Does this sound like a healthy formula for fully functional men? Does this sound like a description for a generation that will be prepared to run the world? To me, this sounds like a recipe for disaster.
The irony of this all is that even though the media would like you to think that men are strong and stone-faced, the reality is that many men have low self-esteems and are self-conscious about the way they look. Yes, I said it. Men have body issues too! In fact, the only reason why there are so many alpha-male characters in our movies, television shows, and magazines is that the people who put them on a pedestal know that most men wish that they could be them.
So why aren’t men speaking up about this more? It has become shameful for a man to not be portrayed as powerful and dominant, rugged and strong. We are so insecure about being insecure that we tend to shut down and pretend like we are 100% comfortable in our own skin. The reality is that men are just as broken as women. More and more young men struggle to be satisfied with what they see in the mirror. Young boys are pressured to “man up”. Crying is discouraged, yet lashing out has been made acceptable. We can’t be too skinny, but we also can’t be fat. We’re expected to be tight and toned, and to wear our hormones on our sleeves. Those are a lot of unrealistic expectations, but guess what? They don’t make you a man.
Being a man isn’t about being the strongest, toughest, womanizing piece of junk in the room. Real men show integrity, take responsibility, and show respect. Being open about your insecurities doesn’t take away your “man card”. Monsters are only monsters in the darkness. Once you shine some light on them, they turn out to be folding chairs. Men, can we turn our monsters into folding chairs? Can we just admit that we’re broken instead of spending our lives trying to live up to the hype that the world has made for us?
No servant is greater than his master, so let’s stop serving lies and stereotypes. Serve life, love and truth. God designed men to be leaders, so let’s stop following the emptiness of action heroes and playboys. Let’s lead by example and be the men who God created us to be. Dance if you’re a dancer, and paint if you’re an artist. There’s more to life than cold beer and biceps. Don’t be the man in the magazine. Be the man you were born to be.
2 Corinthians 12:9