Insecurities are a frequent topic of discussion in media these days, but more often than not, insecurities related to women. Any of you reading this, whether you like to admit it or not, know that men have insecurities too.
In fact, if you think about it, we have them way more often than women do (although they may disagree). Insecurities, now that you recall, may have been the underlying cause of your jealousy, judgements, lack of confidence and rifts with other guys, and any of these other negative things we hate to admit even to ourselves.
It’s More Common Than You Think
We have all looked in the mirror and wished something about your body was different? Maybe you’ve thought your chest should be broader, your abs more defined, be 3 inches taller or your arms bigger. It’s a conversation that many shy away from. But today, why don’t we talk about this difficult topic -male body insecurities. Oh, and of course, let’s first understand that it’s okay to feel this way. But more importantly, let’s learn how to overcome these feelings.
Why Am I So Insecure About My Body?
During my high school years, I too felt insecure, why am I not tall and strong enough. My friends seemed to have been much taller and developed muscles quicker, while I was stuck with a lean frame. Trust me, it seems like a blessing now that I’m 40, when I look much younger than my peers.
But at that time, I felt conscious during my P.T. (physical training) classes and the PT teachers made sure of that. Why am I not running fast or jumping long enough? The question: why am I so insecure about my body was a constant nagging thought.
The truth is, societal pressures and the media often paint a picture of the ideal male body: chiseled, tall, muscular. These unrealistic standards can make any guy feel inadequate. And let’s not even start on the influence of superheroes and their action-figure physiques!
Your female classmates who are drooling over celebrities, there’s no way you will ever be able to match up with them. This constant comparison, even though not done openly, but as a young student it can undoubtedly play havoc on one’s self-esteem.
Feeling Insecure about My Body in a Relationship
Usually, when guys start dating or get in their first relationship, their insecurities intensify. Even more so if you are unable to get into a relationship, the feeling of insecurity multiplies. Insecurity is a double edged sword, it plays on everybody.
The thought of her comparing you to her ex, or you wondering if she wishes you looked more like her favorite celebrity frequently crosses everyone’s mind. It’s not just about looking good in clothes; it’s about feeling vulnerable when the clothes come off, right!
Girls and boys at some level try to play mind games, when try to make their partner feel insecure too, so that they themselves feel like they have the upper hand or are more desirable to their partners. But, anyway that’s a bigger topic and will probably better suited to its own article. So back to the topic at hand…
How to Overcome Insecurities about Your Body and Looks
It’s not all lost! There are ways to overcome these feelings of insecurity, and it begins with a simple shift in perspective. Okay, maybe not so simple. But they’re DOABLE.
Self-awareness and Acceptance
Before you can make a change, you need to accept and love your body as it is. Look at yourself in the mirror, and don’t shy away. Think of (or better, write down) what you love about yourself. If you think there are things you don’t like, it’s time you work on them.
However, if you don’t ever look at yourself in the mirror, it means you have given up on your appearance, and that’s not a good sign. When you stop caring how your body looks, you end up not caring what you eat, and then we all know what it leads to.
The ugly truth is you need to know is that no one likes a fat or unhealthy looking body. If you don’t care for your body, don’t expect people to care for it either. Caring requires effort, and effort is always respected.
Engage in activities that make you feel good about your body. I took up weight training and cycling and felt stronger and more confident of my physique. Yes, staying active by taking up sports like running, football, etc. is tough, but if you don’t respect your body and don’t take care of it by strengthening it, others won’t respect you either.
There are four things that you need to stay active or fit in EQUAL proportions:
- Eat Healthy: Eat protein rich foods along with roughage like salads, fruits, etc.
- Stretch: Before your start exercises or workout, stretching is a must, as it will help you avoid any serious injuries and muscle fatigue.
- Cardio: Take up running, cycling or jogging etc, anything which makes your heart beat at 120 beats per second for at least half an hour.
- Strength Training: Besides lifting weights, you could do push ups, or burpees to strengthen your body. You could also take up racket sports, football or whatever you feel good at. Remember you need to devote time for all the above activities, as each contributes 25% to your overall body’s well being. If you miss out on any one of them, your results will fall drastically.
Actually, all of this is not very tough to do physically, however, maintaining self discipline is. Motivating yourself and keeping up with it is.
Dress Well & Groom Yourself All the Time
Once you start leading an active lifestyle, you will notice that your clothes fit you well. You thus can easily dress well, and even the simplest of clothes start looking good on you. Have you ever seen a fit guy, who lacks confidence or is poorly dressed? No, right?
Taking one step further, you need to work on your hygiene and grooming. Shave regularly, wash your hair (avoid shampoo) and visit your barber more frequently. Get a nice haircut!
The Comparison Game
If you have started to maintain an active lifestyle & papering yourself, you surely can find your strengths. As a student, maintaining an active lifestyle keeps your male hormones level up and makes you competitive.
Yes, there will be comparison and competition whether you like it or not, you should be ready to compete, as life isn’t always fair, people will always judge you, especially your near and dear ones. And it’s their judgement that hurts the most sometimes.
But the best part is, once you take care of your body and start feeling good about yourself, social comparison or healthy competition will start feeling good too. Not just physically, but in other areas too like career, extra-curricular activities or any areas of your interest. It’ll motivate you to give your best, be your best, and that will make you happier. And all of this will ultimately elevate your confidence.
Accept and Embrace Your Unique Self
The road to self-acceptance isn’t always straightforward. It’s a journey with ups and downs. But the key takeaway is this: every man, at some point, asks himself, “Why am I so insecure about my body?” Remember that you’re not alone. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate your body for what it can do rather than how it looks, and most importantly, remember that your value isn’t determined by your physique.
Your body is just a part of who you are. There’s so much more to your personality than your looks, and even your skills. It’s about what kind of a person you really are, and do you treat others with kindness and respect? Do you try to do good and be good to the world? Do you accept others for who they are too, and elevate them instead of pushing them down? All of these things make you the man you want to be.
So, the next time you feel down about your appearance, reflect on your strengths, talents, and the love you have to offer to the world. Let’s journey together towards self-love and confidence!
Abhishek Sareen is a marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He has extensive experience in international business and currently an independent consultant for steel tube, consumer goods and retail industry.
He is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events like MTB Himalaya. His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.