The unspoken truth of male body image issues

My style blogging has wained over the past year, due to something nobody talks about. I have been suffering with the negative effects of male body image issues. A trip to my doctor had me needing to change my lifestyle. The result had a profound impact on not only my health but my attitude to my appearance. Over the past month, I have come to accept the issue is real, and retake some of the power this condition has robbed from me.

As a style blogger I know all the tricks to make the most of my appearance, hiding my expanding tummy, or enhancing my greying hair. I know them, but I don’t always follow them because of the disappointment that I was somehow degrading over time. To age is not a curse, but knowing that doesn’t stop the cruel tricks of the mind. It robbed me of not only confidence, but also one of my passions, blogging. I have to walk my talk… so if I wasn’t feeling stylish, there was nothing to write, the words just wouldn’t come.

Many celebrities have the gift of improving with age, so why can’t the masses? They can and they do. If I cast my eye over my friends and family’s social media profiles, most of them look better now than they ever have, but I wonder how many believe it? The irony was I could see this in others, but it was lost on me. They say the camera adds 5lbs. Well so did my scales and my mirror so that’s 15lbs in my mind.

Speaking of celebrities, the media is filled with amazing transformations from the males stars of my age group. Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale & Ryan Reynolds, you have a lot to answer for, with your ability to shed pounds at will. As for those older than me? Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, Jason Statham, Gerard Butler? I marvel at your eternal youth.

At 43, the classic age for a midlife crisis, I have indulged in a sports car and a motorcycle. I tell myself there is a practical need for these toys, but the truth is vanity is a an expensive yet hollow pursuit. I’ve tried the gym, but it’s no longer a natural habitat for me being 20 years older than the average member. Quality clothing, that to some is an indulgence, but I do believe if you know quality you are investing in your appearance. But what happens when you gain 5lbs and they never come out of your wardrobe? I can tell you what I do, I painfully reminisced of how I looked only 6 months ago and I curse the slippery slope of age. The irony being I was just as unhappy then for the same reasons. In reality I was compounding the developing negative self body image, and nurtured it over many years.

So who do we talk to when we feel insecure or disappointed in how we look? As a guy, we can kid around with our friends and say, “Whoah too much beer this weekend, look at my belly” as if we can wear those extra lbs as a badge of honour. I suspect though, underneath the bravado, few of us care as little as we pretend. I know with most of my friends, they have an air of not caring about appearance, or at least caring about beer more. I wonder how true that is either. But we will never discuss it, or the pretence kicks in and we fake it away as we blokes do.
So what has changed and is it possible to undo years of destructive self perception? In physical terms, not much. A few inches from my tummy, a few kilos off the scales. Increasing cholesterol and blood sugar levels had my doctor concerned enough to run a full suite of tests and encouraged a change of lifestyle. It was health rather than appearance prompted an investigation into fasting and a better diet which I have documented on my YouTube channel. What has been more profound has been the psychological impact of gaining control over myself for the first time in my memory.

I’m developing the tools to improve my health which has resulted in feeling better about myself as a whole. I look in the mirror, and not much has changed on the outside, but on the inside I feel rejuvenated. Do I look different? Probably not much in the eyes of anyone who sees me, but I’m seeing changes slowly but surely. YouTube was more for having a documented journal of progress. Even at the start the negative self body image was apparent, I didn’t show myself off, I just talked to the camera. I experimented with different techniques of health, slowly learning what worked and what was improving me.

At the time of writing, I’m a stone lighter than than when I started this journey. I have something I can write about again, I can bring real value back to my readers though my real life experiences. I can’t say I’m free of the problem, but the journey I’m on means I have the power to control it. This in itself is not without it’s problems. I have always believed that no matter what your shape, you can dress well. I know this is still true, but to really feel good, you have to be happy with yourself and we all have that thing we want to improve. The trick is to find the catalyst and to take action. For me, a health scare and serious talk with my doctor was what I needed. I didn’t realise it would set me on this path. If you are suffering on your own with male body issues, as I understand only too well it can be a lonely condition, get in touch or follow along with my journey and hopefully it will help.

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