I’ve never photographed a nude man. I’ve never noticed how beautifully unique their bodies are. In fact, I’ve always been too concerned with how I typically look naked in front of a guy that I’ve never spent time just…looking at their body. Admiring it for all that it is and isn’t. I encourage women to do that more often, because my choice to include men in this project is partially due to the lack of self-esteem many men suffer from. I’ve decided to take it upon myself to figure out just how much a man’s self-esteem is dictated by his body. I think that’s important too, don’t you? I apologize that there aren’t many photographs with this set. We had limited time to work with.
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How would you rate your self-esteem from 1-10?
Maybe like a 7, I guess. Good days and bad days.
What impacts that number?
It depends on what is going on in my life. If things are going well, I feel better about myself.
Does your significant other make a difference?
Yeah! I’d say so. When she says something nice that certainly helps how I’m feeling.
Do you feel that you are pressured to look a certain way by society? How so?
I’m obviously a skinnier guy. So, I mean, right there certainly. This last year we’ve been going to the gym more, I don’t want crazy muscles or anything but it’d be nice to have more of that though.
What negative impacts do you face for not achieving these standards?
I think it tends to come across more often as jokes. Friends would make jokes, it’s never really seemed particularly malicious. It’s certainly something people are aware of.
Do those comments ever bother you?
Occasionally they have, for the most part it hasn’t. More recently I’ve become more comfortable with it. A few years ago, I’d be more uncomfortable taking my shirt off at the beach. In recent years, it’s been better. Autumn likes me body so she definitely helps.
Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
I’ve heard you explain, “If you believe in equality, you’re a feminist” and in that respect I believe in it. But I personally don’t label myself as one. I don’t know how someone else views feminism, I see you share things on intersectional feminism. It’s kind of how I feel about taking political sides, I don’t subscribe to labels. It’s unfortunately a much more loaded word than it should be.
Why do you think some people don’t consider themselves feminists?
There’s definitely going to be a percentage of people who don’t because they’ve all been online and see things that classify as feminism but they don’t fully understand and don’t want to subscribe without knowing more. There is a lot of misinformation. There could be something you see that you don’t agree with labeled as feminism too.
Do you think people are afraid to show support for feminism in fear of being ridiculed by peers?
I’m sure there’s time that it happens. If you’re going to tell someone you’re a feminist, that automatically means something to them. And it might mean something different to you. You have to defend that point of view. A lot of people aren’t prepared to educate themselves enough to define what it means to them.
What is your opinion of chivalry? How does this expectation affect men?
I was always raised with certain things that my Mom taught me that have always stuck with me. I don’t always think a lot of them are strictly for men. I think the door holding thing, it’s just a thing to do in general for anyone. I don’t unmanly if someone opens the door for me. I just feel polite doing it for anyone. In my current relationship, I took care of a lot of the finance for many years. Now, Autumn is taking care of those and that’s fine.
Are there any gender expectations you feel uncomfortable with?
I have. Personally; no. I’ve always felt okay doing nice things for anyone but especially on a date. Doing all those things is a nice thing. I would be fine not being that way also though.
Do you think that men are hyper-sexualized in the media?
There’s certainly a specific body type being pushed that’s not easily attained. Men have some of the same thing women have, in terms of models and having a fit body type. I feel like men have it a little easier, as far as the media goes, when it comes to having the non-ideal body type. For men, it’s played upon with comedy. When a male body that’s not similar is shown in media, it’s like, “Hey, it doesn’t matter if you’re not attractive in this way. You’re funny. You can still be the lead”.
Men are too often negatively portrayed in the media. Agree or disagree?
I think it’s certainly true that’s more common that they portray men that way. I feel like it’s almost like the medias portraying it that way it’s okay. It’s not always in a negative light. You see that all the time like, especially in sitcoms. The guys are usually the loveable oaf character.
What are some of the most insulting comments you’ve ever heard about your body?
It’s harder to find and think of stuff like that from a lot of guys. Because I think those things exist. I’m aware of my bodily flaws of being a little skinnier and stuff like that but I’m trying to think of a specific situation outside of close friends making jokes. I can’t really think of people making comments in a malicious way. That will probably be a little different from what women experience.
What are your favorite compliments?
I’ve always liked my eyes. So anything regarding that is nice to hear.
What’s your least favorite body part?
The upper body, I would love if that was a little bit more toned or something. Haha.
Growing up, what was your high school experience?
I hung out with a lot of different groups of people, so that probably helped. I didn’t feel like an outcast. I was one of those people who missed high school after. I had a lot of younger friends, and hung out with them a lot in high school.
How do you encourage good self-esteem, if you do, in you daughter?
We do that a lot. One thing that’s we’ve always made sure we didn’t do was make sure she doesn’t see us talking negatively about our bodies. We always try and make sure that she knows about her positive traits. You try to walk a sort of fine line. You always want them to know that they feel good about themselves. But you don’t want to make it seem super important to them. You can go too far, like, “My parents tell me I’m so pretty all the time so I have to stay pretty all the time”. We let her see the positive things about her without putting pressure on her to be certain things.
You raise her equal?
We don’t raise her like, “These toys are for boys.” No. We say, “These are all toys, play with them, if you want to play with them.”
What piece of advice can you give to other parents in terms of non-gender biased parenting?
The best advice would be, “Allow your child options. Let them choose what they’re going to do” And that means some girls will choose the pink stuff, but if you walk them around the store at least they have a chance to pick.
What do you think about the entire “man up” thing?
Guys like to play up their masculinity against each other. I don’t think a lot of people mean it in a de-masculinzing me. When I heard that phrase, I haven’t thought about it that way. A lot of gender skewed insults, you get used to the intention versus what it actually means.
How do people treat the make nude body versus the women?
It seems like a lot of the reason, when you ask someone “Why can’t you see nudity in public?” and there’s this answer, “Oh, well there’s people I don’t want to see naked”. That shouldn’t come into play when you’re thinking moral versus ethical. It seems weird to have a moral stance against being the way that literally every person in the world was born.
I think that anyone might feel uncomfortable with being nude because of that judgment.
Do you think that increased body positivity might positively impact the way people view nudity?
Yeah, it could. I’m kind of cynical. I’m not always sure you can change the way people view things. It’d probably help if everyone did feel better about themselves.
Is there a message you want to leave for anyone reading this?
I feel like society puts too much of a taboo on nudity to the point that people are more willing to let their child watch violent material over someone who is naked. It’s odd to me that people think about something natural, your body, and make it something negative. And hide it at all costs. That’s why I wanted to do this project.