Ed Sheeran Ends The Silence On A Taboo Topic For Men: Body Image

ed-sheeran

We write a lot about body image here at GTHQ. How it affects women, where the body image woes start, and how the media and fashion could do a better job of boosting women’s self esteem in their marketing campaigns. But what about men? How do they fit into this raging online discussion? The truth is they fit right alongside women because they suffer in the same ways as women, they just keep silent about it.

Here is where gender stereotypes play a dangerous part. The idea that a man needs to be strong, tough, masculine and devoid of emotions means there are too many males who suffer behind closed doors, and don’t have the role models and mentors that women have to be able to empathize with them. This needs to stop.

This infographic from the National Eating Disorders Association show how men are affected by body image issues in a way that can lead to eating disorders, just like women:

NEDA-men-eating-disorders

The research speaks for itself, but is that enough? What will it really take for men to be open and honest about their struggles without feeling like it is a threat to their personhood? Since we live in such a global culture which is largely obsessed with celebrities, we believe more men having the guts to speak up and be vulnerable will go a long way to encouraging other males.

Actor Ron Perlman was very open about his past body image struggles, but at the age of 64, he is outside the age range of the majority of men who suffer today. His generation was a whole different ballgame, but it is going to take all types of men to break this curse from being handed down from father to son from generation to generation.

British singer Ed Sheeran recently spoke up about his struggle with his physical appearance and his words were so honest and raw, we almost thought they were a joke. Not because we didn’t believe him, but because we are just not used to seeing men speak so candidly in a public forum. But it’s about time, and we hope Ed is only the first of many to come.

In an interview with The Hits Radio where he was promoting his partnership with YoungMinds, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about mental illness in teens, he says he wasn’t happy with the way he looked before realizing that being healthy isn’t just about physical appearance.

He is not a gym-junkie and doesn’t enjoy running on treadmills. Rather, he prefers to dance to stay fit and says that’s what it should be about, enjoyment and health not to keep up appearances.

“It feels like it’s quite a vain thing to do too much. I think if you do it for health reasons, then it’s great but if you do it for image reasons, purely image reasons, I don’t think it makes sense,” he said.

He soon realized that his unhappiness with his image was because he had the wrong perspective, and that is something we can all relate to, whether male or female.

“I was never really happy with my image and then I realized it was because I was eating fried food and drinking beer every day. You don’t have to kill yourself by getting into shape. Just eat right and don’t drink every day.”

As for the narrow stereotypes that are perpetuated by the media, subtly telling everyone that success comes in only one package, Ed calls BS on that line of thinking.

“There’s enough fat people in the industry and there’s enough skinny people in the industry and there’s enough ginger people in the industry. There’s enough of everyone in the industry and usually the ones that aren’t attractive are the ones that do the best.”

A lot of it is about perception, and having the ability to block out the noise and make the best decisions for yourself. It is hard to escape the influence of the messages we are bombarded with everyday, and if we are going to be saturated with celebrities, we might as well pay attention to the ones who have something valuable and positive to say.

Thank you Ed for being honest about your own struggle, we hope your words will have an effect on many men out there who are looking for clarity in their own body. You are officially on OUR A Team!

ed-sheeran

5 Comments

  1. Yes definitely I have body image issues!

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