In our culture men are held to athan women, and we tend to assume that only those men who attain that standard can be fit, healthy, or attractive.
I’ll admit men who fall short face less recrimination than women who do, although that’s certainly not to say they face none, but for a man it’s much, much easier to fall short in the first place. I can speak from personal experience: I’ve never met a woman who guessed I was health or body conscious at all without being told (and many would show incredulity if I did tell them) though I’m an obsessive calorie-counter, and I work out extensively - averaging about five or six hours a week - to say nothing of the fact that I cycle everywhere. I’m seen as having a completely average body type because I don’t look like an amateur body builder.
Is it any wonder though when the guy on the right (who is already more athletic and toned than ninety percent of men on the planet) was mocked and harangued by the public and media alike for not naturally looking like the guy on the left?
Yet when women release un-doctored photos (most of which still involve truckloads of professional make-up, flattering backdrops, studio lighting, and spray tans used to contour and highlight) they’re applauded for their honesty, and lauded for their natural beauty.
In fact the media will celebrate a rather diverse range of body types when it comes to women:
And now behold the dazzling variations on display when it comes to men:
And while there is some awareness of how impossible standards are hurting women, and some effort being made to diversify things, and promote more realistic role models (even many fashion labels will not use models under a size six on their runways for example) media depictions of men have actually gotten far worse over the decades.
Compare Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel with Henry Cavill’s, or Micheal Keaton’s Batman to the tank-like proportions of Ben Afleck’s. Hell even where the same actors are used the ‘bigger is better,’ mentality gets worse over time. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine from the original X-men for example seems almost chubby compared to to the hulking wall of svelte muscularity on display in later instalments:
One of these two looks like a tough as nails wild-man living on the road in the Canadian backwoods. The other one looks like a greased up Chippendale with an awesome spray-tan
But while body shaming of men is real it’s actually a minor issue. Short men, bald men, scrawny men, fat men, and even otherwise athletic men who aren’t visibly ripped may face mockery for not measuring up (quite literally in this case.) But it is nothing compared to the invective men face who fail to measure up in terms of social, financial, or romantic success.