Society holds men to a high standard of roughness expecting them to mask their emotions as it “emasculates” them. Men are supposed to swallow the rough pills of their pain, despite being human. To fit into society’s idea of an “attractive man”, they have to be muscular, tall, and have nice hair, to begin with. When entering a male’s changing room there are bodies which don’t fit the moulds society has so blatantly deemed as attractive. We hear the mean exclamations. We see the degrading stares. But, of course this doesn’t just exist between the confines of a changing room but in clubs, restaurants and last but definitely not least, family gatherings.
I asked 8 boys to open up about their stories with body shame and this is what they had to say:
Beware it’s honestly painful, gut wrenching, and not okay.
“I’m a plus size male, like a very fat one (I hate saying this). My dad and brother are always making jokes about me and my body. They are always shaming me, they’d touch my body and say that I’m a “cow” or “bigfoot”. My friends would do that too except that they have bullied me for years and touched my body in weird ways, they’d always grab my chest and my butt saying that I’m juicy. They’ve pinned me to the wall before and they just started doing things and of course if I’m mad then I’m a sensitive kid, and that is how “men joke”.
How did it make me feel? I have depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia, the last time I posted a pic was 4 years ago. They are not my friends anymore but I still have some toxic people that I can’t kick out of my life.
I just want to tell everyone to love themselves, these people aren’t your friends if they did this even if they stopped they aren’t good people. If they do this to anybody else then they’re not good people either, if you’re one of the people who shame people and bully them, then I want you to know that I wanted to die every single moment in my life” – ANON, 19
“So, when I was younger, I was called an elephant a lot for being overweight at such a young age and I felt so terrible about it that I would basically cry myself to sleep. My parents also saw this and tried helping me lose weight, I went to several weight loss ‘doctors’ and I did try to lose the weight but it was almost impossible. Especially because my parents kept trying to control everything I ate, so I could lose weight because being overweight wasn’t the best for me and I knew it but I never had the right kind of support I needed to do it. My parents gave me an ultimatum where I have to lose a good amount of weight or do weight loss surgery. I tried losing weight but it didn’t work out so I did the surgery at the age of 16 and at the same time I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Everything seemed great after the surgery for a while but even now after I had gone abroad to study and life had completely changed for me, they still shamed me for gaining any weight especially after uprooting my life to another country. I have been dealing with my weight my entire life and I absolutely hate it. Sometimes I wish that there is some kind of magic spell that I can do to lose the weight but there isn’t now so I try my best to still lose weight and to support anyone that is going through the same thing.” – ANON, 19
“I was body shamed by my best friend all the time. She was a ballerina so she had a model-like physique, I was your more traditional middle eastern guy; didn’t give a damn about my physique. She kept calling me fat, a big pile of lumps, etc etc. We were in the same school so she literally used to MONITOR what I buy from the canteen, and whenever she saw me eating anything remotely unhealthy she smacked it out of my hands. I actually lost nearly 8 kgs in 2 months due to her. I’m not saying I didn’t want to lose this weight, but I surely didn’t want to lose it in THAT way. I felt terrible about eating anything, my food rations were nearly cut in half (even when I was away from her), I used to cry when I looked at myself (which made me even MORE self conscious about my “masculinity”). After nearly a year of cutting ties with said friend, I feel a million times better. I am still trying to lose weight but not in that toxic way. I lose weight because I simply want to. I believe she was self conscious about her OWN body and that’s why she took it out on me. She always criticized her own body a 100 times more than she criticized mine even though she had a very traditionally “attractive” physique. Always calling herself fat (she weighed 50 kgs!), always saying she won’t make it in the ballet scene if she didn’t lose more weight…” – ANON 16
“I was body shamed by friends, classmates and even teachers. They make fun of how skinny I am. Calling me names like stick man & noodle arms. At the time it made me even more insecure than I already am. I’ve always felt attacked when someone talks about it, but I’ve never shown it. It affected me by pushing me to go to the gym, which didn’t work unfortunately and made me even more insecure; looking at my skinny body in the mirror, I felt so bad for myself.” -ANON 17
“I was body shamed by my mother, father, uncle, grandfather, relatives, friends, doctors, and so many more people. One time during a family gathering with all the family there, my grandfather’s sister mara wa7da said in front of everyone “eda enta tekhent keda leh?”
Another time kont ma3zoom at my uncle’s f Ramadan w kol 3elet my dad henak, merat 3amy bet2oli “kol el ma7shy hay3gbak”, my dad replied “yakol eh enty msh shayfa b2a zy el 3egl ezay?” odam el nas kolaha.
Once me and my dad kona f ma7al lebs, and I wanted to try something on, odam el clerk he said “enta mesh shayef fekhadak 3amla ezay, msh haykhosh fiik aslun.”
My mom f 3ezooma told me in front of my cousins eny me7tag akhes and some of them even commented on that making the moment worse for me.
Not body shaming, bs I remember my now best friend’s fiancée once told me and I quote “bgd shaklak helw awe, ya3ni lw kot arfa3 kot sa7ebtak”
– and many other situations ha3od l7ad el sob7 3ashan 2a2olha, I’m already insecure af about it, w dayman el mawdoo3 da f demaghy w menaked 3laya f 7agat ktir ha3od 7aba ashra7ha, bs every time someone comments I feel embarrassed, ashamed, and hurt like my heart is breaking into a million pieces. I feel weak. I feel like everyone else is better than me, one of the reasons I don’t get into relationships is because of that, despite everyone admiring my personality. But, I feel that the way I look doesn’t qualify me to be boyfriend material. But, that’s not what hurts the most, what hurts the most is the feeling of never being good enough, and that everyday everyone close to you reminds you of it by these stupid comments. I hate going to the pool or to the beach because I’m ashamed, I already hate myself for that, fa msh na2sa comments el nas, msh na2sa bgd ana already f gald el zat msh me2asr fa msh lazem kolo yegledny kol shwaya. Not to sound desperate wl shoghl da walahy, bs I want to feel accepted” – ANON 21
“I was bullied by almost my whole family. They kept mocking me for being fat and overweight. Sometimes embarrassing me in front of my friends and cousins. I was too ashamed to take my shirt off, I didn’t want to swim at times. I then got over it and didn’t care anymore, before I started losing weight and now I am fit” – ANON 15
“I was body shamed by grandma and my dad. I’ve been overweight my whole life. I was being forced to go to several nutritionists and gyms for the past 10 years. My dad wants to see me as a better person so I’ve been told my whole life that I’m not a normal person and I can’t stay like this and when I got a bit older I started saying that I didn’t want to go to the gym or maybe I need to take a break from diets and gyms but my dad’s response was always “khalas 3ayz tfdal keda tool 3omrak” so I didn’t have an answer we bakamel aroo7 el gym we a3mel diet. I used to go to the gym to satisfy my dad and eat junk secretly on my way back and sometimes baroo7 El nady we makhoshesh. Gym has always had a temporary effect and this effect only makes me happy because my dad can be proud. For the past year I told him I will not do anything regarding my body just because he wants me to do so. Now 90% men el pressure ely kan 3alaya ra7.
My grandma 2altly 7aga wa7da bas wana maybe 6 or 7; she was reading me a bedtime story about wa7ed tkheen we mafeesh bent 7abeto wala basetlo and it’s been stuck to my head since then.
PS . I still don’t like how I look” – ANON 17
“I am body shamed by my family and some friends for being too skinny. It made me feel really upset and made me hate my body and not feel comfortable in my own skin! I still feel haunted by these feelings and my family still mocks me. It has however motivated me to go to the gym – but just to prove them wrong! I did not however continue going to the gym. I hope I can get back – ASA QUARANTINE IS OVER! I just hope I can work effectively on my body and get in SHAPE ASAP – even if it were to mean taking supplements or pills that could increase muscle growth and that could potentially be harmful.” – ANON 17