“Sometimes, how you ingest this idea of masculinity as projected onto you by the world could be the difference of life and death.” – American film director, Barry Jenkins.
Technological breakthroughs and advancements in modern medicine can be looked at to support the stark increase (indicated in the above graph) in the life expectancy of Australian males and females over the last century. Certainly, an approximate 35-year increase of life expectancy from birth is worth celebrating. Perhaps, though, it is worth questioning why the increase pictured above is consistently in favor of the light blue line (females) rather than that of the darker line (males). In particular, how can we relate these figures to modern society?
We already know males are more likely to engage in risk taking behaviour than their female counterparts. This may be due to higher levels of testosterone in males, which could also explain their lower frequency in doctors visits compared to females. Though we can relate these behaviours to biological factors, perhaps we could place a magnifying glass on current media pressures as we approach the closing days of 2017.
The emergence of Web 2.0 has allowed an influx in user generated content. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are just a few amongst myriad platforms allowing human beings to upload and share their opinion with the world. As our relationship has become more fluent with this online language, the dangers for females in terms of body image and societal pressures finally started receiving attention. Users such as The Body Image Movement and Healthy Clean Times are amongst the wonderful, forward thinking females who began promoting self love for women of all ages, shapes and sizes in the last few years.
Perhaps, however, body image issues became even more twisted, being warped as a merely ‘female issue’. Rather than vocalizing mental health issues and combatting unreasonable societal expectations for all, perhaps males began to feel even more emasculated than before.
Indeed, movements such as the Movember Foundation and Livin’s, ‘#ItAintWeakToSpeak’, do promote a more expressive culture for men. However, charities and foundations do not occupy the majority of day-to-day media. Whilst these entities do advertise their cause, it is predominantly social media, TV shows and product advertisements that we cannot escape these ideas aurally and visually. This is where we find Dove’s, ‘Real Beauty’, female body positivity activists and new ideas about gender roles driven predominantly via female protagonists, actors and models. Therefore, it is vital this idea in favor men is propelled through these more frequently accessed platforms of social media, advertising and character development within mainstream TV.
When hearing phrases like, ‘body image’, ‘eating disorder’ or ‘anorexia’, does one gender spring to mind more instinctively than another? Be honest.