As a twenty-three-year-old twink, you might think life in gay culture is bliss. But the rise of popularity on Instagram has given rise to topless men with muscle, unabashedly showing off their abs, pecks and gorgeous tans.
I’m a young man that likes what he likes, and unfortunately, I’m a sucker for a handsome man with a six-pack. I follow a lot of men on my feed, and whilst I know they’re unattainable, it’s still fun to look.
But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, bringing awareness to sexual assault and harassment to women, I begin to wonder if objectifying these men is going to become problematic. Aren’t we just as bad for lusting over images of topless men? Of course, the main difference here on Instagram is these men are living their best lives, and they’re uploading photos for the endless stream of attention they receive from their thousands of followers, or so we’re led to believe.
The constant stream of cocktails on the sandy beaches of a faraway country, of sunglasses and shorts whilst I, watch a snow storm, ignites not jealousy, but instead a sense of longing. According to a recent survey, Instagram was rated the top social media app that is bad for one’s mental health. Is it any wonder that a discovery like that has been found?
We so desperately want to quit our mundane, often dead-end jobs, for a life that seems so much better. So desperate are we that we forget that social media shows us only the good. Who uploads a photograph of them with a massive spot, dribble down their chin and from a bad angle?
Instead, we plump for Valencia filters, with airbrushed skin and cleverly crafted digital tans. The social media culture we live in has given us the best of the best, forever making us feel like we have to keep up. When we can’t, we sink lower, finding the ebb of sadness.
Goodness, we’ve got a bit sad here, haven’t we? For a first article, you’d think I’d show you my best side! But then I’d be playing up to the picture-perfect lifestyle you see plastered all over Instagram.
For men, it’s hard to discuss body confidence issues. It’s not talked about often, and so we tend not to mention it. I’m one to say I have body confidence issues, and I’m sure there would be others out there that say I have no right to be self-conscious about the way I look. But I do, and it’s common for people of all shapes and sizes to have those issues.
A common problem for men is the fear that their size is just not good enough. Straight men know their girlfriends or potential partners will discuss a ‘perfect size’, and in the gay community, we also discuss men’s sizes. The myth of the penis size is a strange one. On one hand, many people simply don’t mind. On the other, it’s preference. Body confident Instagram men show off everything, and leave very little to the imagination. With strict Instagram guidelines on nudity, the toned gods have found ways around this, showing blurs and imprints in the tightest fabrics you could ever see. It’s very unlikely to see anything other than a hand full in images like this.
It’s easy to believe that the hot men we see on Instagram don’t think like this. We imagine them earning money for every post, spending a second in the gym and getting a killer body, and spending hour after hour taking in culture, relaxing by pools, and drinking refreshing drinks. It’s easy because that is all we see of these complete strangers.
We don’t know their lifestyle, not really. We see what they want us to see. It’s hard to remember that when we’re sat in a dilapidated house, wondering how we’re going to afford rent at the end of the month.
If you ever feel like you are comparing yourself to others, it’s time to find that unfollow button, and click unfollow. Take some time away from the glossy too busy to model men, and instead focus on what’s around you.
Jack Strange is a writer, author and poet from South Wales. He is a Britney Spears enthusiast, and you can usually find him on Twitter talking about celebrities and pop music, when he’s not trying to be a serious writer.
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