The effects of presentations and perceptions of beauty in society are not solely felt by women. The male perception of women can be impacted as well. Additionally, men are just as likely to be affected by the way their attractiveness is defined by the masses, which is a highly overlooked concept in our culture.
I asked college student, Daniel Cooksey, to discuss what it means to be a man and how society beholds male beauty.
Q: Can men be beautiful?
A: Yes. They can be because beauty is not gendered. Because if beauty is defined by levels of attractiveness, then men and women both have them. There’s nothing inherently feminine about being beautiful or beauty in general.
Q: What are some stereotypes that exist about men and their attractiveness?
A: If men are muscular, athletic, and do stereotypically masculine activities they are considered attractive because men are expected to be dominant. That’s why girls fall in love with the “bad” boy. On the other side, women do love men who cook.
Q: Are these stereotypes unfair?
A: What’s deemed appropriate is created by society. It’s not going to be accurate for everyone. It’s not fair, particularly when men do a stereotypically effeminate activity, for example men who knit. If men partake in these activities, their sexuality is questioned. This is insulting to [heterosexual] men. Society highly emphasizes men’s need to present themselves as masculine.
Q: What qualities do women stereotypically look for in men?
A: Height is a big thing. Men are supposed to be solid not curvy. Men aren’t supposed to be skinny, muscular is preferred, but fat is still considered to be manly. Skinny can be equated to frailty.
Many of these pressures and societal normalities that are imposed on males are paralleled by those felt by females every day. I invite you to consider that the way media presentation, perceptions, and stereotypes centered around gender and beauty inherently affects men and women.