By Michael Baggs
Almost half of UK #men say poor #bodyimage has affected their #mentalhealth, according to a new study.
Research by #suicideprevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Instagram found 48% of #men aged 16-40 had struggled because of how they feel about their body.
Of 2,000 males asked, 58% said the #pandemic had affected how they feel about their body in a negative way.
Only 26% said they were happy with how they look.
And 21% said they don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about it.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
‘Everyone was getting fitter – except me’
Spencer Cooper, 22, is among the 48% – and says the #pandemic played a big part in his poor #bodyimage and #mentalhealth.
“During lockdown, I saw everyone was doing home workouts on Instagram Live and on Facebook, I was thinking, ‘Right, okay, I’m going to try that,'” he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“I did a couple, but it wasn’t for for me, I couldn’t do it, and I think I made myself feel quite guilty for that.
“Everyone on #socialmedia seemed to be getting fitter, healthier and doing well – and I seemed to be doing the opposite.”
Spencer says that even though the new figures are high, he would have expected them to be even higher.
“When your clothes start not to fit, the shops aren’t open and all of a sudden you don’t look good, you don’t feel good and you’re very unhappy in your #bodyimage,” he adds.
“When you already didn’t feel good to start with because of the #pandemic and not seeing friends, it hits you quite hard.”
Spencer feels the reason some #men don’t feel comfortable chatting about how their #bodyimage affects their #mentalhealth is because #men are simply “programmed not to”.
CALM and Instagram are launching a new series, CALM Body Talks in an attempt to start that conversation.
#Bodyimage campaigners Jamie Laing, Stevie Blaine, Leon McKenzie, and Russell Kane are all involved in the series.
“Growing up I was quickly aware that my body was different to those around me,” Stevie Blaine tells the BBC.
Stevie says he struggled with his weight during his #teens and later when he experienced hair loss in his late 20s – and says he went through “a decade of self-hate”.
CALM Body Talks aims to promote positive #bodyimage in #men – but of course it’s something that affects #women too.
‘#Men missing from the conversation’
“#Women face these issues everyday too, and that’s why it has been so great to witness the rise of the body positivity movement over the past few years,” says Jamie Laing.
“You scroll through hashtags like #bodypositivity and #selflove on Instagram and you see so many #women sharing experiences of body changes during lockdown, advice for self-care and motivational messages to support their community.
“It’s hard to ignore the fact that there is a stark gender divide here, and #men are often missing from the conversation.”
‘Ripped, muscly #men’
Spencer says his self-esteem is affected by what he sees in his feed.
“I think there’s this huge expectation to look and act a certain way,” he says.
“The image that keeps flashing through my mind is these buff, ripped muscly #men who post their bodies on #socialmedia a lot.
“#Socialmedia is still kind of dominated by these images of how you should look as a #man.”
‘Instagram causes pressure on #boys’
During the first #coronavirus lockdown in 2020, CALM says it saw a 40% increase in calls to its helpline and visits to its website by 16-24-year-olds double.
CEO Simon Gunning admits Instagram has been part of the problem for #young people’s #bodyimage.
“Unquestionably Instagram has caused the pressure for #adolescent #boys to be big and muscly, it is unhealthy and unattainable,” he says.
“This campaign tackles the issue at its core, #bodyimage on Instagram.”
“#Bodyimage issues are massively prevalent in #women and #girls. The same pressures apply to #men but we don’t discuss it in the same way – the way we portray body image for #men is decades behind. There is no debate for #men on this topic.”