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Boys, Men, Their Influence on Your Body Image

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Old 02-13-2007, 09:30 PM   #1
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Default Boys, Men, Their Influence on Your Body Image

One thread on here had us discussing memories from our youth about food. It seems like a lot of people look to their mothers as the source or start of their food issues since she was probably the one purchasing and preparing and presenting the food.

I'm curious what your experiences have been with boys and men and how they have influenced your body image.

When I was 19, my college boyfriend told me I had a "flat butt" and that he usually dated girls with big butts. Well, he knew me a year. I wore a size 3. We dated a year and I didn't gain weight. I broke up with him. Even though I'm now 37 and no one else in nearly 20 years has told me I have a flat butt, I still think that of myself.

Does anyone else have any memories of seemingly small incidents or comments delivered by the boys or men in your life that really hurt your self-image?

Are boys and men influenced by the media even more today to have an unrealistic image of girls and women?
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:40 PM   #2
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My big one, as I mentioned in the childhood memories thread, was my dad. Every time I went to eat ANYTHING more than what HE thought I *should* be eating, he'd poke my stomach - mind you, this was when I was 10 and still had little-kid pudge, fer cryin out loud! - and say sneeringly "Do you really NEED that?" He kept it up all through my teen years, even when I was barely 10 or 15 lbs overweight and didn't have hardly any belly for him to poke.

As far as romantic interests or non-family males...oddly, I've always been around guys who thought I was gorgeous. Once I blossomed, anyway - until about age 15, I was the most awkward adolescent ever! But guys I dated after that always told me I was hot and stuff. When I was with this one guy, when I was sixteen, I told him I wanted to lose some weight. Just that extra 10 vanity pounds, you know? And he said "Well, if you want to, okay. But I think you're skinny enough already. I'm already scared I'm gonna break your ribs if I hug you too tight."

My current SO (long-distance long-term relationship, just passed three years) is and always has been the skinniest, scrawniest guy I've ever known, except for maybe one other friend from high school. He's just got that really tall, thin, wiry body type. And he can eat whatever the **** he wants, it doesn't show. I've flat-out told him I hate him for that. But he, too, has been very encouraging of my efforts. Even now, with 50 lbs to lose instead of 10, he tells me I'm beautiful anyway and if it'll make me more comfortable with my body, great, but he wouldn't care one way or another.

So I guess I've just been extraordinarily lucky with the guys in my life - except for my dad.
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:53 PM   #3
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I've never really been in a relationship, and in some ways, I think that helped myself esteem. I never worried about what some part of my body looked like to someone else. The only person I worried about impressing was myself. I dress nicely so that I feel good. I work out so that I feel good. The first time I heard someone call me beautiful was when I was about 23. I never had any expectations for anyone to call me that, but I never thought I wasn't beautiful either. I just never relied on other people to tell me so. I never expected my parents to say it...it just wasn't something that we did. I guess I must be aging gracefully because I hear it more often these days. Hee, hee!

Once when I was on a working out and eating healthy kick, a friend of mine tried to encourage me to eat a bunch of unhealthy food because it was ok because, "Guys like all kinds of bodies." I was like, ummm...it never even occurred to me to do this because of a guy! I didn't really understand why she drew that connection. I just wanted to be healthy for ME!
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Once when I was on a working out and eating healthy kick, a friend of mine tried to encourage me to eat a bunch of unhealthy food because it was ok because, "Guys like all kinds of bodies." I was like, ummm...it never even occurred to me to do this because of a guy! I didn't really understand why she drew that connection. I just wanted to be healthy for ME!
It's kinda sad that she immediately drew that connection. I have a BF, but I'm not doing this for him by any stretch of the imagination. I'm just sick of being uncomfortable in my own skin.
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:05 PM   #5
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Thanks for your replies. I was in a relationship with a very fit and attractive man in October. (I haven't had a "real" date since October 31, 2006, when I broke up with him.) One of the last things I remember him saying to me was, "You have skinny legs." He didn't mean it as a compliment. Well, that was it for me!! I ended things with him because he hit a nerve. Maybe it's immature, but what am I supposed to do about having skinny legs? I know that I'm not a very strong person. I started on my goal to get stronger and leaner through my waist and hips.
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Began fitness program: 1/6/2007
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Circumference Body Fat%
Starting: 33%
Current: 24%
Goal: 20%

Measurements

Starting: Bust 36" Waist 31" Hips 38"
Current: Bust 36" Waist 27" Hips 37"

Dress/Jean Size:
Starting: 6 going on 8
Current: 4
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:13 PM   #6
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I posted this in another thread today (very strange) but once, when I was 16, and about 130lbs, my bf of the time told me I looked pregnant. I was wearing an empire waisted shirt, and they do puff out a bit...but not to that extent!! I was devastated. I'm always very conscious of shirts like that now.
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicheleKC View Post
what am I supposed to do about having skinny legs?
You're supposed to love 'em and ignore his ingorance!!

And think of how many gals would love 'em too
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:18 PM   #8
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I've always been pretty curvy no matter what my weight was...I've got boobs and a butt. I was getting followed around and hit on by grown men when I was a teenager. And I've always been a fairly conservative/casual dresser. I'm your jeans, sweater, jacket type. But I seem to have attracted quite a few weirdos in my life (including stalkers) and I'm somewhat amazed at the fact that nothing terrible ever happened to me as a result. But it definitely affected my body image in the sense that it made me loathe to wear anything that shows too much skin, as though by doing so, I'm gonna get gawked at or followed around by a perv again. I don't wear anything really low cut, or tank tops, skin-tight pants, midriff-baring clothes and basically anything that looks like you'd have to peel it off.
So...essentially, because of this kind of attention from males, my message to myself over the years has been the less you show, the more the weirdos will leave you alone.

Oh, as far as the question of whether guys have an unrealistic view of women because of what's hyped in the media and all, a guy could probably best answer that. But my own interpretation or opinion is that I don't think they go around expecting the women in their lives to look like centerfolds. I may be totally off base, and if I am I'm sure the guys will come out and tell me, but I think they kind of compartmentalize women. I think in their minds there's basically two categories of women...one category that contains the centerfolds, the strippers, the porn stars, the flashy, promiscuous celebs, some hot girls that they know, etc., and the other category is all the other women...the wives, girlfriends, the friends, the co-workers, women they see around just in daily life. I don't think men compare the two types against each other because I think they think the two types of women serve different purposes.

If anything, I think the media depiction of women over the years has been far more influential and damaging on women's psyches than men's. Second only to what a girl's father's attitude is about females. And that's a whole other talk show.
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:21 PM   #9
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If one ever needed proof that some men see women as objects, the comment "You have skinny legs" would do. As though you're a table that he thinks is OK, works like a table, except...

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Old 02-13-2007, 10:30 PM   #10
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That isn't all men, though. It's one man who was trying to hurt her feelings.
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Old 02-14-2007, 12:05 AM   #11
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Jay did say SOME men, Maria. Not all are like that, and that's not being argued. But there is a significant portion of men who do see women that way.

Don't get me started on my rant about society's role for women...
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Old 02-14-2007, 12:32 AM   #12
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For some reason it bothers me more when my 25 y o son says I look awful than when my husband gives me that 'is that what you're wearing' look.
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Old 02-14-2007, 07:19 AM   #13
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SusanB, why would anyone's son SAY that to her??

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Old 02-14-2007, 08:01 AM   #14
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My son (bless his little heart) is the biggest critic of my extremely lacking wardrobe. He's proud of my weightloss, proud of my new fitness level, wishes some women he works with would consult with me about all that. But when it come to clothing ... "Just go to a store and buy pants that fit ... no sweat pants!"
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:31 AM   #15
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I have had men in my life who had both a positive and negative influence on me concerning my weight. My earliest negative experience was my 2 older brothers making fun of me and calling me fat when I was about 13 yrs. old and starting to bloom. I had boobs and very muscular thighs and a round butt and was about 115 lbs. and 5'5. I immediately started exercising like crazy and using the Ayd's diet candies (does anyone remember those). Later , I started taking Dexatrim and starving myself. I was in no way overweight but they made me feel like I was.

Then, at age 17 I met my fiance' and he hounded me about my weight. When we started dating I was 5'7 and 135 lbs. He went to medical school and became an anesthiologist while I went to RN school. He wanted me to sign a pre-nup that I'd never weigh over 150 lbs. even while pregnant. It didn't matter to him that he was 5'10 and weighed 210. He loved to drink a lot of alcohol and eat out at fancy restaurants. I gained a lot of weight while we were together for 8 yrs. We had our son together and split up.

I'll also never forget my step-dad telling me that all the men who wanted to date me in high school wouldn't take a second glance at me now because I'm fat.

I also had a new man in my life after my divorce when I weighed 155 lbs. that asked me "why did you let yourself go and get this big?" That was the end of seeing him.

Plus, my first high school boyfriend, I ran into him when I was 9 months pregnant and he proceeded to tell me "you'll never be able to lose all that weight".

But, I have had many other men in my life that thought I looked great. That never said anything but good about my size and looks. My current DH is one of them. He doesn't care about what I weigh. He has told me I'm beautiful just as much at 234 lbs. as he does now at 143 lbs.

I think the media has affected my son regarding women and appearances. I have never seen him date anyone that I wouldn't consider "skinny". He likes the very short, petite, girls. I've also noticed that most his girlfriends aren't the sharpest crayon in the box. He is 21. He is great to compliment me on the way I look and make me feel good about myself.
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