More men admit to being anxious and unconfident about their bodies than the press or online resources would suggest.
A recent One Poll survey of 2,000 British male adults found that 30% tend to feel unconfident about their appearance, with 19% answering 1-3 from a scale of 10, with 10 being ‘very confident’ and 1 being ‘not confident at all’.
This data is at odds with the information around the subject on the internet. A quick Google search of “women’s body confidence” returns 81,000 results, whereas “Men’s body confidence” returns
only 8 (1 of these websites is a t-shirt company, and another 3 contain the exact same wording).
Of course, women’s body confidence is a serious issue, with 35% of women surveyed claiming they tend to feel unconfident about their bodies (in a separate survey. Both were conducted on behalf of New Look). But the figures are almost the same for males.
In fact, more women suggest they tend to be confident about their body than men: 37% to 35%.
The survey found that the most common causes for male lack of body confidence are excess fat (26%), the waistline (18%) and height (8%). Penis size and muscle size/definition also featured prominently as reasons for insecurity.
Other interesting findings from the survey included:
- People in Scotland have the largest average waistline, at 35.14 inches
- People in Wales have the lowest, at 33.78 inches
- The North East has the most bodily confident males, with an average of 5.74 out of 10. This is closely followed by Londoners, at 5.70.
- The South East has the lowest male body confidence average, at 5.26.
- The most common male figure from those surveyed was a pear shape (larder around the middle than up top), with 27%.
- Only 1% described themselves as having a large, flabby frame.
- Men appear to consistently get more bodily confident with age, aside from the 25-34 year old age group, who were found to have the least confidence in their bodies.
“For the past 10 years eating disorders in men have been steadily rising,” Sam Thomas, the founder and director of the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too, says, citing last year’s report from the Royal College of Practitioners that found a 66 per cent rise in the number of men being treated for eating disorders. “Now studies from the NHS Information Centre show that approximately one quarter of all sufferers of eating disorders are male,” he says.
Sam points to celebrity culture as one reason that men today are feeling pressure about how they look. “There are two extremes of cases that we see. One is the traditional masculine image of what a man should look like – muscly, macho – and the opposite is the super slim. The difference between men and women
is that women have one slim ideal, whereas men are expected to be both slim and defined and muscly.”
Read Sam Thomas’ blog post commentating on the study on the Huffington Post.