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Body-Shaming Men: When Gender Equality Isn't So Satisfying.

It wasn’t long ago that Adnan Sami was under the spotlight for losing Kgs of weight and reinventing a fit self. As news circulated that his wife left him because of his weight, many men began to panic. Today with Anant Ambani grabbing the national headlines for losing 108 Kgs, the spotlight is again on the silent prejudice that fat men face. While being unhealthy is obviously not desired, so isn't society's fascination for sculpted, beautiful - and might I add, unreal - bodies. It's worse in the case of men, because it is never acknowledged.

What happens to you when you see a new Ranbir Kapoor movie? Your heart thumps right? Just like women, men too have a lot of expectations to live up to. We have to fit into those 24 waist jeans but that guy out there has to constantly work to attain those unattainable 6-pack abs. A girl being fat might be a source of embarrassment for her and she might hate her body type all the time, but then there will be revolutionary quotes and inspirational talks that make her believe that the best love is self-love. But do boys really get that kind of inspiration?

Have we ever accepted chubby guys into our lives? Has a woman ever preferred a 100 kg intelligent man over a 70 Kg well-built muscular but intellectually dim guy?

With notions like these living in our own head, where do you think this leaves the men of the world? You can even look at our own Bollywood industry, where actresses like Vidya Balan and Huma Qureshi are celebrated, while there are no popular mainstream actors who can be proud of their paunch. Men in today’s day and age have grown up to believe that the idea of a perfect man is well-built, with biceps and pairs of abs. The vision of a perfect man has been imprinted in all our heads and they constantly strive to achieve it. Honestly since my school days I remember some lean and slim guys, some were fat and chubby, while some were naturally muscular due to sports. But today all of them have grown up to be gym junkies, spending majority of their day doing leg muscles and pulling weights, while at the same time flooding their body with protein powders, steroids and weight gainers.

All of these supplements might even have a negative impact on their body but in order to achieve that macho look they are more than willing to risk it. Yes, men do constantly face insecurity when it comes to body image. Even today when I see a slim guy I can see other muscular guys mock him and question his masculinity. But at the end of the day, in less trivial pursuits, the one with the least power might turn out to be the greatest man of them all.

Somewhere down the path of life, the idea that strength is proportional to masculinity came into being and soon it was forgotten that manliness came from other aspects other than just a bunch of swelled up arms. This has left a major impact on those who fail to achieve it and make them feel inferior to those who spend their hours in the gym.

It’s not just the weight that is under the radar, even matters of fairness and the ability to grow an even beard have put them under the shadow of those who have it all. A man with no beard is often ridiculed by his fellows and some might take it in the light way, while some really do start questioning their own masculinity. The idea of tall, dark and handsome has been taken over by well built, bearded and fair men. Thus constantly making men run towards achieving the “desired” look.

From the very beginning of day men have been required to live by a set of rules and regulations that silently churn in everyone’s head such as- men don’t cry, and a man has to take care of a woman and many more. On a personal level I believe who ever feels pain has the right to cry, but as soon as a man sheds tears he is ridiculed and called a woman, as if the term “woman” is the worst abuse he could have been called and it isn’t always necessary for a man to take care of a woman. These stereotypes have put immense pressure on the men of today’s day and age, making them believe that in order to take care of women they need to be strong and if they are strong they can’t appear weak by crying.

Is this what we want the men of our society to be? A mere pretence? A bunch of people who can’t even express their true body, emotions or mind? Think about it. Think about how running after all this might be impacting the children. As young brothers see their elder sisters talking about the sort of man she might desire, it sets an idea in his head as to what he is supposed to grow up to be, and even before he has hit puberty he has already grown up. Boys have been expected to turn into men even before the biological process does so for them. Do you think this leaves them in a secure environment?

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