Body Image: What Guys Don’t Get

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis

Do you ever worry that you’re too fat, too thin, or that your breasts or derrière might be too big, too small, too droopy, too lopsided…?

Men are often surprised when they find out that their partners are worried about such things— “You’re beautiful!” they think.

Women of various shapes and sizes have even been voted “Hottest” (via Maxim, Esquire and FHM): short women like Megan Fox and Jessica Simpson, tall women like Maria Sharapova and Taylor Swift, thin and small-breasted women like Mila Kunis and Keira Knightley, and “thick” women like Ashley Graham, Kim Kardashian and Christina Hendricks.

I’m not thrilled with ranking women or dissecting their body parts, but this is real data showing an appreciation for a variety of figures.

Still, when I assure women about all this, some guys will voice support that’s not so supportive. I guess because different guys have different tastes, even if all women can find men who find them attractive.

Christina Hendricks

Christina Hendricks

So sometimes I get comments from guys like this:

  • But she has a pretty face (even if she doesn’t have this other thing)
  • I love women who are (tall … thick… slim…)
  • Moderate is best
  • You can work out and get that way — or if not, then show off some other part that’s hot

Maybe these guys are so attached to said narrow beauty ideal that they have a hard time thinking outside the box.

These guys don’t get the low self-esteem that their “supportive comments” may engender.

They don’t get how they leave too many women worried over how they bodies look in bed, instead of having great sex. They don’t get what a sexual turn off it all is.

And they don’t get the pressure that so many women feel.

But then, men needn’t grapple with narrow beauty ideals, so they have no idea what it’s like.

Some of these guys have said they wish that men were objectified.

They have no idea what that would be like.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 20, 2016, in body image, feminism, objectification, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 77 Comments.

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog post and I think it is important for young girls to read it as well. I am 18 years old and I feel like I am affected by viewing my body in a certain way because of societal standards and what other teenagers speak about what they find attractive. I love my body and I feel like there is nothing I need to change. But in terms of me compared to everyone else my age, I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I am 6ft tall and I have barely any boobs. I feel like now with people such as Kim Kardashian or Instagram Blogger Alexis Ren, it is really hard for me to believe someone would find me attractive because I don’t have the “popular” features all the other girls my age seem to want. I felt like I was really able to connect when you mentioned, “Men are often surprised when they find out that their partners are worried about such things— “You’re beautiful!”.That reminded me of how that is something my mom and friends say to me all the time, and I think they are saying it to be nice. I just feel like I wouldn’t be able to pull off being sexy because I don’t have those features that I think people my age would find to be “hot”. AKA Having a slim body but then a larger butt or having bigger boobs.

  2. I found this blog post interesting in the way that it stated how men’s “supportive comments’ are actually the things that can harm a woman’s self-esteem. I have many guy friends where we can talk openly about our partners or people we are interested in. I have definitely heard the comments of “she has a great this but not that”, “I like a certain body type”, “I only date girls that are brunette”. Just recently, my other lady friends and I try to let them know that while they do notice a “good part” of a woman, that commenting on that can make it seem like the rest of that woman is not sufficient enough.
    On the part with men wishing they were objectified, my friends and I have done that recently only in turn to show how hurtful it can be to our guy friends. We obviously were joking by picking and choosing certain things about that that can be objectified on them. We chose to comment on their eye color, height, body type, muscle definition, and facial features. By hearing how these can be scrutinized by women, they started to see what they were doing by saying these “supportive comments” or stating what “type” of woman they like.
    I’m not sure how much that conversation stuck with them because I’ve heard them revert back to those types of comments sometimes. But at least my friends and I were able to let them know momentarily the type of effect they have.

  3. Everyone is beautiful in some way. Outside beauty is nothing if you have inside beauty like being nice to people, being caring and loving, friendly, helpful, etc. In today’s world any women with money can look perfect with surgery and make over. I don’t think anyone should just go after looks but should see personality of a person. Women’s should not worry too much about how they look and spend millions of dollars to look good. Females should look nice and dress well but I don’t believe in worrying too much about your looks because males have different tastes and they should not try to attract someone who goes after looks. Worry about looks and thinking people don’t like is wrong because if you have a nice personality you are better than person looking better than you. Maybe a females thinks she is tall that’s why people don’t like her then she is wrong because people cannot judge anyone by the way they look.

  4. The pressure to appear a certain way is very real for women. I think it takes a while to settle into your own body, and recognize you’re beautiful as you are. It’s a lot easier said than done. I used to hate how short I am, and my lack of curves. But most of my friends that I talked to, who I thought had totally perfect bodies, felt they lacked many physical characteristics as well. I saw a cartoon image of two girls, with totally opposite body types, who were each thinking “wow, she looks so good. I wish I had the curves to pull off that dress, or, I wish I was skinny enough to wear that outfit”. I think situations like that happen a lot. Men frequently don’t understand this, because they don’t face the same pressure to look a certain way. I’ve had male friends who I’ve talked about this with, and they just don’t seem to understand what I’m so worried about, because they think I look just fine (which is always reassuring). Without facing the scrutiny that we do, I don’t know that men will ever be able to understand what it’s like.

  5. Initially, I was a little irritated by the beginning of the post — I thought that it was going in the direction of, “Men like all shapes and sizes, so don’t worry” rather than “Men don’t determine your worth, nor do they understand why we feel like they determine your worth.” I’m happy that it was the latter, as I have always found it quite sad how many people’s insecurities stem from being afraid that a man will not like it. Why is that? We have been programmed to believe that we must look a certain way, and men have been programmed to believe the same is true, and that they can dictate how we look based on their own desires. This dates back to historical patriarchal times when men could just pick out the women that they wanted to marry. Unfortunately, I believe there is still much work to be done, as I hear my male friends discussing their problems with the way certain females look. I try to shift their conversation by pointing out that they are dissecting an individual’s outwardly appearance based on their own sense of entitlement. No man or woman is perfect.

    • Well, I also write exactly the sort of post that irritates you, and even included that annoying point in this one. I try to approach the subject from a variety of angles, and that is one of them. It’s human nature to want whatever sex you are attracted to to find you attractive, and I recognize that. So I think it’s important to point out that embodying the narrow societal ideal isn’t necessary to be attractive.

      But of course there are many other points to make. And thank you for highlighting some of them.

  6. Diederik de Groot

    Body image plays a big role in society standards. Women are expected to have big breasts, large hips, and a large butt. On the other hand, Men are expected to be muscular. Both women and men care about their image, but because of the patriarchal society we live in the main body image that is mostly looked and judged on is the female body. This societal standard has been made very prominent that women watch their weight or have artificial implants to make their boobs or butt look bigger. Being a guy I don’t fully understand all the problems that are faced by women with this body imaging. To me though this sounds like body mirroring (Having a body that looks like the “Perfect female body).

    • Sometimes I think it would be interesting to experience life as a man would. And for men to experience life as a woman would. If people really understood each other, I wonder how much things would change?

      And the thing is, men get harmed when women are harmed, too. For instance, when women think that their bodies aren’t good enough they often spend time in bed thinking about how they look instead of enjoying how they feel. And that’s not so great for the guy either, since most men want to be with a woman who is enjoying sex.

  7. Ahhhhhh, I feel like every women has heard someone say those comments about her or about someone else. Men can be (sorry to sound harsh) a little clueless sometimes. I remember when I was growing up, I would tell my dad how insecure I was (this was like back in elementary/middle school) because I had the most curliest hair compared to my straight hair peers and he would always brush it off and say, “But everyone loves you even if your hair isn’t normal.” Like okay, how is that suppose to make me feel better? But I agree, I love and hate magazines who rank different types of bodies. Mostly love because of the diversity involved but also hate everything else. I loved this piece, because men do seem to be blinded sometimes and think most women are perfectly one hundred percent okay with their bodies that seem “ideal” to them.
    (The ending made me laugh. I have never heard any man say they wish to be objectified!)

  8. This is really interesting.. You’re right in many ways, the diverse body types in the Hottest Women rankings show that men are into all different sorts of bodies, yet their words can still be harmful. While there is that “diversity” in body type they do all carry similarities in the proportions/lack of lumps.. Also, these women are typically wearing make up and expensive clothing. There is a lot that goes into appeal and we as women try to keep up with that, for many different reasons. So, in trying to achieve the look, even though diverse, we end up spending so much money on clothing and make up. It is exciting to see fuller figured women idolized, yet it is covers like the new Taylor Swift cover on Vogue that concerns me. When I was younger I would look at these covers and wish I had the body types as the headliner. Taylor Swift may be thin by nature but she looks emaciated. It is concerning to me that we idolize lack of nourishing your body. There still are many strides we have to help with womens bodies images, our wallets in attempt to look attractive and stopping the idolization of starvation.

    • Yes, the diversity does have room for expansion. Still, women often don’t realize that men’s taste isn’t as narrow as one might expect. And I agree with your other thoughts.

  9. Through socialization and internalization, this harmful thought process can be invoked on women from other women as well. Modern American culture is so obsessed with not only sexualizing women and their looks, but pitting these women against each other based upon that notion. These microaggressions can be found everywhere from movies to news to magazines, and since we as people consume so much of these things regularly, we continue the cycle.

    • The difference is that the men — at least as I perceived them — weren’t trying to be hurtful. But the examples you are giving are women who ARE trying to be hurtful. (The guys just don’t get it.)

  10. What is being attractive?
    I am sure that beauty of connected to some physical aspects then it has an expiry date always which of not the case with beauty that is beyond appearance…. which women do possess….
    Thank you for sharing

  11. I think a great way to approach body image is to promote a healthy body. There are skinny girls and curvy girls in the media, but fit girls seem to be still a smaller denomination. If we all promote healthy living, we will naturally get women of all different shapes and sizes. Being healthy = beautiful and that should be it. If everybody is healthy, nobody would say anything bad about women being naturally curvier or naturally skinny because everybody would be healthy and that is all that matters. However in a world in which we choose everything based on performance or aesthetic, it would be hard to break those tendencies.
    Also, I think a lot of media is gravitating towards more unique looks. There are many models nowadays that the general public would not call a traditional beauty such as Madeline Stuart, Winnie Harlow, and Katie Meade. But another thing that women need to understand is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but that person isn’t who measures your worth.

    • Yes, healthy is the way to go!

    • Well the thing is that I think people see aesthetically pleasing to equal healthy. It’s not always true, as you can have thin women who don’t work out or eat good and unhealthy or stick thing and starving themselves. Then have heavier women who just have slower metabolisms, workout, and eat healthy and have cardio endurance. But the reason it’s correlated to looks is because, there’s a line where, it can be unhealthy based on the body.

      An obese person, or very obese person has many health risks added right? The fatter someone is, the more stress it puts in the the kidneys, and organs as well as your back. There’s a much greater chance for heart disease, diabetes, and even cancers with obesity. But like I said, it depends. Ashley Graham who is NOT fat, but thick and has extra weight to her. She’s healthy, as you can see with her workout regimens, which she wouldn’t be able to do if she didn’t workout a lot as she wouldn’t have the cardio endurance to them without running out or breath or collapsing. If you’re out of shape, you aren’t going to run a mile or run or do cardio excercises hard without running out of breath.

      • “aesthetically pleasing = healthy”

        Actually what is considered aesthetically pleasing varies from culture to culture. In some cultures obesity is considered attractive. In some cultures “so skinny that you can’t bear children” + breast implants is considered attractive. Like Victoria’s Secret Angels.

        Evolutionary psychologists used to think that people preferred symmetrical features because they indicated health.

        And some cultures people prefer big boobs, And others they prefer small boobs, And others they just don’t care hi all… Some cultures prefer big butts others prefer small butts and some don’t care.

        In some times and places tolerance preferred. In and some times and places shorter is preferred.

        Blonde is largely preferred in the world, but it is only healthier in the most northern latitudes. We probably learned to prefer lighter because it is associated with powerful colonizers.

        They don’t.

        And people don’t always prefer them. Harrison Ford has asymmetrical features but he is considered pretty attractive.

        And we are always focused on what women look like — applying our narrow, picky standards. Shouldn’t it be just as important for women to be able to visually detect healthy men? Actually, even more so since women are the bearers of children?

        And yet all of the pressure for for physical perfection is placed on women.

        Meanwhile, this focus on women’s looks ends of harming both men and women. In bed it’s common for women to spend at least part of their time worrying about how our bodies look. And 80% of young women have poor body image. Which means that it’s common for women to get distracted from sexual pleasure because they are distracted by how they look. Plus, women are taught to be the sex objects, AND the biggest aphrodisiac for a woman is to believe that her partner finds her really attractive. But that often doesn’t happen when we have narrow standards and 80% of women have poor body image. So guys end up with distracted women.

  12. I am honestly not surprised that men react this way towards women’s insecurities.I believe this ties back with our social norms and how our socialization agents influence our ideas.Let’s take the idea of the cult of female virtue,the idea that women are born as caring, vulnerable individuals who belong as homemakers in the family.In response to conforming with this idea, young girls are taught to help other’s and care for them.Unfortunately, this is not the case for how young boys are raised.They’re told to “be a man” and do things themselves without help.It’s almost as if because of this, they are not able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see where they are coming from.Another reason for why men do not understand such insecurities may tie back to the social learning theory which states that people learn new attitudes and beliefs through social interactions.I think that since women are raised to be more open to sharing feelings, they express them (including insecurities) more while say hanging out with friends.Men however, are taught to keep feelings to themselves so they in return don’t share them while in a group.This leads to not being exposed to different attitudes towards self esteem and therefore, I believe, a reduction in the ability to understand where insecure women are coming from.

    • You make some good points. Men not only lack the experience to understand it, But our socialized to be less empathetic. They also don’t see how it ends up hurting them. But when women are in bed worried about how they look and not enjoying sex, that’s not so great for men either, for instance.

  13. We men know not what we do! I am so unaware of the harms that my words have at times. I tell the women that I am with the truth. I try to sugarcoat if it is not the best thing to tell them. Women always want to know something. I am always being asked if they gained weight and how do they look in this or that. I always have to find a creative way of saying it is good. If i JUST simply say that it is fine, it is often not enough! If I say that it is great, the over excitement scares them! Women are sensitive beings. They can take one word and ruminate over that one word for weeks and let it affect them. I know for me, I tread lightly because I do not want anyone having an identity crisis because of something that I have said! I would rather stay positive and promote inner beauty.

    • And guys don’t get how this ends up hurting them. In bed women often end up focused on how they look instead of enjoying sex. And I even know women who have broken up with partners who loved them — once they got the sense that the guy didn’t find them attractive enough. Because that information ended up being painful and was too big of a distraction. And there are options. Different body types are preferred in different cultures, so it certainly is possible for humans to learn to appreciate variety as the spice of life.

  14. In my opinion, we cared for her as a whole person rather than just a sex object. For a woman, her personal charm is not just appear outside. But for now, the measure of society for most women is only cared about their appearance. The incredible thing comes up is that more and more women is affected by “bandwagon effect”, and they pay more attention to their appearance. So for women, their situation is very awkward. They have to follow the trend, at the same time also can’t stand in the dominant position to do what they want to do. I, as a man, I am pay attention of the female thoughts and their ideas, I also very understand the feelings of the women. For example, my girlfriend. She spends much time for dressing up, she really cares about her appearance, and how is other people evaluate to her. So I also very understand the feelings of those stars, they caught more attention and got more comments from the society.

    • And following the bandwagon isn’t necessarily a conscious process. Little girls grow up in a society that bombards them with messages that in order to be valued and loved they must be beautiful. It all unconsciously sinks in and starts to seem natural and normal — unquestioned. One way to get outside that mentality is to recognize that it is there and that it isn’t inevitable he there.

  15. I think that men and women need to understand the difference between “sex object” and “sexy.” A sex object is there for a person’s desires and enjoyment. It provides no confidence whatsoever towards men’s or women’s confidence on how they look or feel about themselves. Being or feeling sexy does not mean you are a sex object. It just means you feel confident and attractive no matter what your body type, which is how I believe we all should look at ourselves. I also wish our society wouldn’t put women, AND men as well, into categories, and name only skinny women or toned buff men, “Sexiest Woman/Man Alive.” Because social media, tabloids, and advertisements portray a skinny, well toned woman with medium to large breasts, a larger butt, and shining complexion as perfect and sexy, women think that they need to look just like that in order to be looked at as beautiful or sexy. And because men who have rock hard abs, bulging biceps, defined back muscles, and a hard jawline are portrayed as perfect, men feel the same as women, and think they need to look like the man on front of the magazine to be looked at as attractive and sexy. There is a difference between being portrayed as a sex object for advertisements versus feeling sexy and confident about your body, no matter what size or shape you are.

  16. Body Image is a very important subject in todays society when ever us women take a look at T.V shows, movies, look through magazines or even hear music there is always people in todays world trying to make us fit in to a certain category to be seen as a model type as small waist not to tall but not to skinny, flawless face with no scars or acne. That’s how men and people in charge of the beauty industry try to make others look at women. When it comes to guys opinion or comment they can hurt women’s feelings with out knowing it they might want to say something nice intentionally but come out as an insult, for example as what the post says they might say, “You can work out and get that way — or if not, then show off some other part that’s hot”. This say can be intentioned by them as a positive saying like, if you want or feel insecure of yourself you can work out to feel better about yourself but to women it might sound like, “why don’t you just work out because you look fat”. Or “show of some other part” might sound like this to women, “m just interested in this part of your body if you show it its ok I do not care about the rest”. Some things are meant to be good but come out bad and more when guys attention directs to celebrities or women who we are supposed to look like for example like the post also says there are different types of women out in the world including artist and celebrities small breast, long legs, short, tall and the list goes on there beauty in everything I believe it just takes the right person to see it.

    • I have surveyed my students on how much they think about their bodies when they have sex. Most women think about their bodies and usually get distracted at least some of the time by how they look– Usually worries. Men rarely have the same experience. So I think it’s hard for them to understand having little or no experience.

  17. In today’s society value in the story of beauty are increasing, especially about woman shape. Even a beautiful face is important for women, but more important is the shape. Most of mass media, such as movies, TV series or ads offer women who have slim shape and beautiful faces. We rarely see they offer fat women or short women. Moreover, in mass media still insert the concept that only beautiful women will get a good guy. I think this is the reason that make women’s concerns too much about their shapes even if there are many men who are ready to love the way she is. However, the media presentation can cause men to have idea occurred to the shape of the woman in a bad way. For example, if the woman doesn’t have the high-profile shape, they might consider as a woman who is not beautiful, then they will ignore her. I know the concept of shape is very important, because in my country. They look obese women to find lover is difficult. Women who already have boyfriends would worry if they are gain weight or not beautiful because they think their boyfriends will find another woman who has slim body and beautiful shape.

    • Plenty of media, from opera to popular music to television and movies constantly send a message that a woman must be beautiful to be worthy and loved. And then society creates narrow ideals — that actually vary from culture to culture. It’s pretty sad, really.

  18. I definitely agree with your point that men care less about that body image partly because of what society has done to emphasize beauty among women and less for men. This is partly because beauty generally associated with any woman and even expected by them by society. For men, however, there is is greater emphasis on non-physical aspects such as success. Personally as a guy, I tend to not care too much about my appearance. Sure, when there is a formal party or interview, I take extra time to freshen up. But for most occasions, I do not care too much about my appearance since most of my guys friends do not either.
    For women, I imagine that they might have to worry about their appearance almost everywhere. This is because for women, society makes it so that if you are physically good looking, then you will have an easier time getting along with others and getting noticed. I personally think that this tendency of society in judging a woman by her appearance may lead to some overlooking in talent. For example, Susan Boyle was only known to the world for her talents in singing when she was auditioned for American Idol in her late forties. This was mainly because of her appearance was a factor in being constantly overlooked since physical appearance is a commonality for most media performers.

  19. I think a lot of men don’t realize that their individual opinion won’t change a woman’s opinion of her appearance because they’re given so many messages that the world revolves around their point of view. You often see men reassuring fat women that they would still have sex with them (or even prefer having sex with fat women) and believing that they are being body-positive. It’s frustrating! It’s like they are implying that a woman needs a man’s approval to love her own body.

    The comments about men wanting to be objectified remind me of male comic book fans responding to criticism of sexually objectifying costumes for female superheroes with the faulty assertion that male superheroes also hold up an unrealistic standard for the male appearance. Ironically, they fail to realize that the traits they’re talking about (big muscles in tight costumes, mostly) are not comparable because they are a male power fantasy and have nothing to do with appealing to women sexually.

  20. This article was really touching for me. Mainly because I agree on a personal level with all the points made throughout the article. Such as men don’t get the pressure women feel. Recently I’ve battled with strong self esteem issues of my own body whether it was good enough, despite having a very supportive boyfriend. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel great about my own body and looks because he loved them. In society today for women, with beautiful women in Hollywood even being judged, its hard to find our own place comfort within our skin. Women being objectified has made me scared this summer to come out in a swimsuit leading to me to barely eat. It’s not that hate myself, or I don’t like what my boyfriend says, its I’m not comfortable from the objection of women looks.

  21. I think that this narrow and mostly unnatainable body figure is an ideal that really does haunt most women. A woman is never able to be happy with their body because there will always be someone, man or woman, that comments on what would be better. I am a naturally thin person and if I don’t want to eat some sweet or pastry people automatically think that I am avoiding it because I am on a diet and I should not be depriving myself. I get these comments so often. Yet, the reality is that I think I am too thin in my legs and behind because I have lost a lot of my muscle mass and generally thicker thighs that I once had. I think it is inspiring when women don’t conform to society’s expectation that we show off our body. While watching this season of “the voice” on tv, I am very inspired by the way that one of the women dress because she has a “beautiful body” and does not wear any clothing that is the least bit revealing or skin tight or anything of that sort. I am very inspired by the way she dresses, but I can’t help but think that maybe she does not like her body and therefore tries to hide it. It seems that society has developed us into thinking that anything a woman does can never be right.

  22. I would agree that men are very surprised that their partners have serious body image concerns, but maybe when these same men were single and “on the prowl” these body image concerns were indeed being objectified by them. I hear things all the time from men and sometimes women like she’s chubby but cute, or she’s kind of pretty but that body… Things that this are commonly said about race too; she’s cute for a white/black girl, she’s got a butt for an Asian… and these things are harmful to women, but women part take in such also.
    I’m trying to consider instances where women say these same types of things about men, but only a few come to mind. I think that looks are less concerning for women in regards to the men they date. The concerns of body image is amongst women themselves and other women, but when women talk about men to date, yeah tall, dark, and handsome is the cliche, but in more seriously conversations it’s about a man who cares, has a solid job, good morals, and will make a good dad. Could one say men are objectified in that way?

    • Men sometimes write in and say that they are objectified in terms of those things but that doesn’t make sense to me for a couple of reasons. When we talk about sexual objectification we mean that the woman is an object and that her thoughts and feelings don’t matter. Because the thoughts and feelings of objects don’t matter. So women will be expected to undergo pain for the guys pleasure. She just exist for his purposes. If you’re looking for good morals and a good dad that’s a multidimensional person, And one would hope that the woman would also care about the man’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. Similarly, if a man wanted a woman with good morals and who made a good mom, that’s not objectifying. That’s good sense.

  23. The fact that men likes moderate women or don’t really care about their figures might not have any serious problem if we have a glimpse at it. Men are less picky on those stuff, men don’t care, blah blah blah… However, if we think deeply, this is in fact a big problem. Why are people judging each other mainly on their faces and figures? When they argues over men and women’s perspective on fitness and size of a woman, they seemed to ignore the inside character of the girl. In nowadays societies, we are so, in fact, too focused on the surface of a person. A woman may be picky on how she looks, but she may be doing that because she wants to give her husband a surprise on his birthday party. The man who said cosmetics and dress-ups are trash can also be the one who bought the most perfumes for his wife!

  24. In fact I used to comment girls that I met with “her face looks nice” or some similar comments in this article. And I sincerely did not know that it provides so much pressure to girls in theri self-esteem. However, the more girls I have met, the stronger I really that self-confidence can completely change the feeling that they give me. I do want to show some girls my opion that self-confidence does most of the thing when you are communicating with others, but the favourite thing they like to ask is ‘am I look good today?’. I hope there will be more programs that can tell women to raise up their self-confidence rather than teaching them what kind of makeup is the latest and most popular.

  25. I couldn’t agree more about how men don’t understand how their “supportive comments” can actually be insensitive and hurtful. I can’t tell you how many times my boyfriend has commented on the fact that my butt is big or that all I need to do to lose weight is work out. Yes, I’m aware that I have a large butt and I appreciate that he appreciates it but it’s not one of those things that I need to be reminded of on a constant basis. I also feel like he’s trying to be supportive of my desire to lose weight but he just doesn’t understand how what he says can be insulting. Or maybe he’s just an ass. Either way, clearly other women are being faced with the same problems as I have encountered. I think it would be really interesting to see how men would react to being given these “supportive comments” and see how much they appreciate it! I can only hope that it would change the way men think about talking to women.

  26. The problem with ranking women based on their body types (and looks in general) is that in the end someone is always left out and feeling horrible about themselves.

    Take Meghan Trainors song “All about that bass” a song which received overwhelming amounts of attention for celebrating curvy women (and also made snark remarks about “skinny bitches”). While everyone else was singing along, I a quote-on-quote “skinny bitch” was all of a sudden questioning my own image. Was I no longer attractive because I had no ass or boobs? Was my physique now considered ugly?

    The answer is NO. The problem with songs and media that promote only one body type is it promotes one standard of beauty.

    Enough ranking women as “most beautiful curvy woman 2016” no more “most beautiful petite woman of the year”. We should all just promote all body types and call them all beautiful because they are all beautiful as a rule. We shouldn’t limit women’s beauty to a certain category.

  27. Samantha Hartman

    The men that I have encountered in my life have always seemed surprised by any self-consciousness I have about my body. They don’t see the imperfections that I think are so visible – so easily identifiable. I have an idea of perfection in my head, and it’s not a realistic one. Women in the media are photoshopped 30 times before their image is released. Can we really count on the standard this sets to be realistic? It’s no wonder 5-year old me already knew what she wanted to look like when she grew up, she never even had the chance to see herself in an unbiased way. These standards of beauty that women attempt to attain and that confuses men, also harms the relationship between men and women. Unconsciously, men compare their mate to the “ideal woman,” and this can create unhappiness in the relationship. As the pattern of the woman not meeting what society has deemed “acceptable standards” continues, the relationship is stressed – and it becomes obvious that the woman had every right to be paranoid about her looks.

  28. Nice article. Sorry, but I feel there is a small typo error ” worried over how they( THEIR) bodies look in bed..”

  29. I get curious and often read the comment sections online in articles about women or videos made by women on YouTube and am almost always surprised at the kind of comments men think are acceptable to say. It’s strange how they seem completely oblivious to the fact that they sound like they’re dictating what women should look like or behave like beyond what I think should be allowed. And it sometimes feels even worse when women do it, because I think they don’t realize the kind of women-judging culture they’re partaking in that is hurting them too. It’s often things that men don’t get judged on as much, like a woman having a tattoo, her nose not being small enough, her teeth either being too crooked, or straight but too rabbit-like, wearing too much makeup (even if she’s wearing just as much makeup as women who men think aren’t wearing much, because she used less natural colors). Or assuming that a female celebrity got plastic surgery when she never did (and if she did, why criticize her so harshly for it?), and then shaming her for the assumption that they made. As a woman, it often made me question if I am being judged this way when I go out in public. Sometimes I even see members of my family make such comments and I think it’s sad that we live in a culture where we can comment so harshly on somebody’s appearance while watching television or flipping through a magazine without thinking twice about if we’re saying something problematic. I can see it affecting me and the women around me every day.

  30. Hei Yiu Hailey Wong

    The problem of women objectification had existed in the society for long, especially on media that we see every day, having a huge impact on what and how we think about ourselves. Media, including music videos, advertisements as well as TV shows, is a “great tool” to objectify women and create that narrow social ideals of beauty and perfect body figure. Although the data in the article shows that the society do have an appreciation for a variety of figures: tall, short, thick, slim, this as well as the “supportive” comments that the guys give still emphasize the attractiveness of the women’s body shape and physical appearance. This creates an impression that one of the most important and successful things for girls in life is to be sexually and physically attractive. The media also help convey and generate that narrow social beauty ideals: Once girls or women cannot find themselves conforming to that ideal, many of them are depressed and have low self-esteem. It is also not surprising to see that some female are even pressured to change themselves to fit into the ideal through really extreme ways, which are definitely hurting themselves.

    • Yep, you’re right. Since a lot of women will worry about how they look, no matter how much you complain about objectification, I like to point out that men aren’t quite as picky as women often think they are. And then you get “Helpful” comments like the ones I point out. Uuuggghhh!

  31. There’s nothing wrong with getting aroused, that’s perfectly normal. I basically agree with you, We just have different understandings of what the word sex object means.”

    Well if your body is sexualized and causes arousal and looking up with images and porn. Then it is a sex object. But the difference is instead of it being a narrow ideal which causes women to feel bad, women’s bodies of different bodies and sizes are shown and appreciated and causing arousal. So they are still sex objects, but the female body a sex objects in all it’s glory and not just one type of female body. That’s what I was saying. Sex object is bad, because it leads to an ideal of the “best” body type. But if that is done away with and most are equally ideal”, then I think that’s not so bad. Like I said I wouldn’t mind that as a man being a sex object as long as the body appreciation of the male body is broad or broader and not narrow. The problem for men and women being a sex object is it’s narrow, which was my point.

    • Sexy = sexually attractive but there is more to her than that. And her thoughts and feelings matter.

      Sex object = she is all about sex and nothing else. Her thoughts and feelings don’t matter. Even her sexual desire doesn’t matter.

      When our media primarily depicts women sexy and little else it works to think of women in objectified ways.

      Narrow notions of what’s attractive make things even worse as it hurts self-esteem and often distracts women in bed, as they start worrying that they may not be attractive enough.

  32. >And they don’t get the pressure that so many women feel.

    Are you kidding me?

  33. Courtney Bernardo

    I don’t really like the idea of ranking women based on physical characteristics because not everyone has the same body type and to put one woman on a pedestal and named that person as the “sexiest” or the “most beautiful” create some sort of self esteem issue because they think that to be seen as beautiful or sexy they must follow the footsteps of celebrities, and it just doesn’t make sense because not everyone can have the figure of Kim Kardashian.

  34. I think the problem is that the media doesn’t show women of all or most body types. Women say they don’t want to be sex objects and I think it’s because of how women’s bodies are shown in commercials, tv, movies, ads, etc. I think if you saw most varieties of women’s bodies celebrated and sexualized and admired, where not one body type is celebrated more than the other. Then women would not feel bad, because they would see their bodies or body types seen as sexy and arousing and in that sense, I don’t think it would be bad. I think sex object is bad, because it’s usually a slim ideal. Whereas, I think a wide range of ideals seen as sexy and almost equally. That’s the problem, I think the sex object part is a problem for women, because they feel their bodies don’t match up, but women do like to be lusted after and seen as sexy.

    So if you had this, you would combine the two, women feeling sexy for their different bodies and getting the high from being lusted for and attracted to.Women don’t get that, because they are too concerned or distracted about not measuring up. You take that pressure off, but still have been fixated on their bodies would be less the problem You said men want to be sex objects but wouldn’t like it. But that’s the thing. I wouldn’t want to feel the pressure of being really toned and fitting that ideal and women dissecting our bodies and seeing only the top %10 bodies sexy. But like I said, I would like the sex object thing if all or varying bodies of men were shown with the really fit toned ones and women lusting and admiring the various bodies of men. So then I wouldn’t be self conscious anymore and it would just be two positives to me anyway. Being lusted for and attracted to by giirls who find your body as sexy as other men’s bodies. That’s the problem with society to me is not sex objectification, but how narrow things are because of that. If it’s broadened, it wouldn’t be near the problem it is.

    • A lot of people don’t understand the difference between a sex object and sexy. That’s probably because it’s not obvious. A sex object is all about existing for someone else’s desire. The woman’s own desire, thoughts and feelings don’t matter. When women are primarily portrayed in the media as being sexy for other people, and you don’t see the full dimentions of who or woman is, that’s a problem. And then the narrow ideals are the other side of that problem. Women feel like they are inadequate sex objects, so I agree with your point there.

      I don’t think that it is bad for women and men to be portrayed as sexy. The problem is when there aren’t more multidimensional portrayals and when the standard is narrow.

      • And then the narrow ideals are the other side of that problem. ”

        Well what about your body being arousing to the opposite sex, but not in a narrow ideal? That’s what I was explaining. What if various women’s bodies, instead of the usual thin women or narrow ideal shown? Women would feel better about their bodies, but also get the benefit of being visually lusted after too, but instead of a few body types appreciated. Various bodies equally appreciated or about the same depending on what the men liked. But all found attractive. That’s where I wouldn’t mind as a man. You said men wouldn’t like it. Well not in the narrow ideal. I’m fit, but I don’t have the physique of a gymnast or ripped and toned like that, but you see that on ads that shown men somtimes.

        That could be tough for men if women were not looking and talking aobut men’s bodies and how they only like them fit like that or dissecting men’s bodies like that. Or you see women turned on just by these men. Yeah that would be a problem, but like I said I put it together where sex object could still be positive if combined and appreciated overall. That’s the problem with sex object as it usually dissects bodies to a narrow ideal. What if because bodies of different people shown and people got used to said flaws and found them attractive that it just become an appreciation of the opposite sexes bodies of variety. So all arousing and attractive? I wouldn’t mind that if along with the toned bodies, the male bodies like men were on tv and women were turned on by it, or heavier men too, so you wouldn’t feel bad because you saw women appreciate other bodies just as much. The same for women if there bodies shown on tv and men saying how sexy they are and appreciated just as much the “perfect” ones. Actually there wouldn’t be a perfect body, because the different bodies would be more on even ranking and level so more people could feel good about their bodies. So you said men wouldn’t like that. But it depends. The former no. But men’s bodies in tv or ads and equally distributed and appreciated from different body types would be a different story and I don’t think men would mind, as we could all feel our bodies are arousing and lust worthy to women and not just those ripped, model looking, toned guys.

      • There’s nothing wrong with getting aroused, that’s perfectly normal. I basically agree with you, We just have different understandings of what the word sex object means.

  35. I do some boudoir photography and in several years of doing it, I’ve only had one model that had nothing bad to say about herself. It makes me really sad to hear that litany. The pressure to conform to the unattainable ideal is enormous. Somehow we’ve come to the conclusion that women over 25ish can’t possibly be beautiful or that the shift to the body of a woman who has borne children is terrible. I just don’t get it.
    I’ve had more than one lady cry at how beautiful her photos were, because they had long ago lost the feeling of being beautiful, or perhaps never had it.
    I’ve been told that the pressure from other women was much worse than the pressure from men.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with this, and your empathy. And it’s not just women over age 25. 80% of women under age 25 also have poor body image. And the pressure comes from men, other women and social ideals – even if the women aren’t getting direct feedback from specific and women. I wrote this because when I get “supportive” feedback for men some they don’t realize that it’s not so supportive.

  36. Even language can be difficult, in context:

    “Maybe these guys are so attached to said narrow beauty ideal that they have a hard time thinking outside the box.”

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