September 9th, 2011

Eating disorders are serious and complex conditions, affecting people of any age and gender, with the condition Anorexia Nervosa carrying the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

I recently wrote for Mental Healthy articles about the rise of eating disorders in men and the rise of young people being admitted to hospital for eating disorders and yet despite these alarming figures there is still a distinct lack of research in the area of men and the experiences of young people.

Read more via the link

August 13th, 2011

Yet another gender barrier, research on sexualisation of images

So today I came across this piece of “research” (I use them term loosely) which was feature in an article on science today “Marked rise in intensely sexualised images of women, not men”. This angers me to say the least, the fact it was blatantly researched from the female point of view, taking a very narrow section and trying to apply it across the board.

Their entire research study was based on copies of rolling stone magazine, which in my opinion, is guaranteed to give the results that they reported, the article can be found here.

I am not a researcher, but applying common sense to this screams alarm bells in my head, what about the entire society as something tells me the world doesn’t revolve around rolling stones magazine?

They don’t deny it happens with men, but they do underplay the amount it happens, if you for instance take a magazine aimed at the gay community then the images in that sort of publication will be of men, simple concept to me.

One magazine will never represent the true picture of what is going on, I could sit here all night listing magazines and judging by their readership, show a little initiative and make an educated guess as to which gender would be over sexualised. 

Advertisers, editors and writers will always tailor their content to the target audience so while in rolling stone magazine they find more female images are overly sexual when we look at magazines such as gay times, men’s health you will find more images that are overly sexual, or overly aspirational that are of men. 

My problem with this research is that it creates yet another gender barrier. Campaigners and advocates have a hard enough time at the moment trying to get the message across that men and boys have it just as hard with body image, that men get eating disorders too and that they have the same reaction to the over sexual / over aspirational images as women.

I say this a lot, and I will say it again, yes women have had the pressure for a lot longer and I believe it is far more recently that content has been made like this for the male market. The demands on physical attractiveness, sexual pressures and body confidence have been much more a female issue in history than it has been for men.

But we now have a different culture; we live in a society that for whatever reason is fixated on physical values. Men are now subject to the same pressures as women when it comes to attaining ‘physical ideals’ and although it is a different expectation, there is still an expectation on both sexes.

These hyper sexualised images don’t help matters at all; this is true for both sexes. Maybe there are more images out there of women, but we all know in recent years there has been a massive boom in the male market, with more publications now than ever before. Regardless of how many images are out there, people are being affected by them, end of.

We can talk about different ‘communities’ within society, for example the Gay community, where it has often been argued that body confidence is far more an issue for men than any other, and I wouldn’t discount that at all.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we will ever get to the stage where every outlet is not doing it, as let’s face it, it just won’t sell as well.

We need to start looking on us as people, to be almost able to self-moderate what we see, feel comfortable about the skin we are in and to be able to look deeper, not so superficially. 

As for this piece of research and many others for that matter, they just perpetuate the stigma in society that men just don’t get it as bad, that they aren’t affected and if they are, they are being affected by a “girl’s issue”. I am sick of hearing it, I am sick of seeing it and instead of the way we currently look at the issue we need to see it from a gender inclusive point of view, see where the problems lie and tackle them.