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Sex, Gender, and Body Image

Do boys and girls have different body-image concerns?

Appearance ideals can vary by gender and, more broadly, ethnicity, culture, region, community, and other factors. Not all boys, for example, face the same pressure to look and act in certain ways. That said, our media- and sports-saturated culture often celebrates men who are muscular and lean. For girls and women, media messages -- especially in the United States -- commonly emphasize the value of being young, beautiful, and, especially, thin.

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Parent of a 4 and 7-year-old written by Kurai K.

Well I am a guy, but I place a lot of empathizes on my hair, hygiene, and body shape. Typically these things are seen more as female type concerns, but I am not even gay I am straight and I am a guy yet I do take concern in those things more. Most guys care more about how muscular they are and how much facial hair they have. My point is sometimes yes body image concerns can very by gender identity, but they can also cross and overlap with one gender also caring about something the other gender is more concerned by typically. Unfortunately we guys do actually have it worst than girls when it comes to being sexy or hot, but you know what this needs to change because it is rather rude to judge your guy off of what they look like or how much they work out. It does actually bother me a lot that this is how girls can be, since it is rude, disrespectful, and kind of judgmental, but the thing is I never really cared in life what anyone thought of me, I just did what made me happy and content. Because of this I have had people mistake me for a girl a lot simply because I don't place too much empathizes on my muscle mass or other stuff that typically considered male. I will be honest as much as I do hate it, I kind of have the "femboy" thing going on with how I look by normal terms, but I can't really help it, this is just how I look and why should I care if I have no one to impress anyways. Way too much societal norms in life, girls need to become more accepting of stuff and not want a guy who is muscular and all, all the time. They don't like it when we seem to only go for the skinny chicks so why should we have to put up with them only wanting muscle heads? I simply don't care if I don't look the most manly out there because I don't give a crap if I look like a damn anime boy XD but it does bother me none the less with the crap that comes with looking a certain way that I can't really do much about.
Teen, 14 years old written by CookleDoe

I believe that you should be happy with what you look like. I've been considered as not the prettiest girl in the world for my weight, and I'm okay with that, I think whether you're a little curvy, a little skinny, or "just right", you should be happy with how you look. You should find good role models and a guy/girl that loves you for who YOU are--not what you look like.
Kid, 12 years old

Girl: big boobs, big butt, flat belly, "healthy" skinny Boy: abs and muscles. This is what I have noticed. Obviously, since I'm not a boy, what I said might not be completely accurate but this is my idea.
Kid, 10 years old

I would say........ YEAH. Girls who want to be "hot" like many do. That really means a curvier body. I am not a jerk or sexist, but seriously! It is the fashion fad of the 21st century. It's also about hair and makeup. Boys want absolutely cut torsos and an awesome hairstyle. Isn't the world messed up.
Kid, 11 years old

Sort of. Both want to be what has been portrayed as “pretty” or “sexy” or “hot” or “handsome” in the media; so what they see in magazines and on TV is what they idolize. For girls, it’s usually the women who are tall and curvy, usually blonde, big breasts, big butt, the women you see in fashion mags. For boys, it’s usually the big, muscular guys that are often chased by women. But what makes them similar is that they idolize what they see that the media praises as “good-looking”.
Teen, 15 years old written by MeggyPeggy

For women, keeping a healthy body and being known as "fit and healthy" all you really have to do is eat healthily and maybe some light exercise. But for men, if you wanna be hot and sexy you gotta have muscles and pecs. To do that you need a strict workout and diet routine for years and years. Woman don't have to be muscular to be considered hot. Men are also scrutinized for being too short. But girls can be dateable at almost any height. Unlike men where if you are under 5'10" then you are automatically not hot anymore. Honestly, men have it harder in terms of body image. Maybe girls struggle more with it internally because they could be insecure, but guys have much higher expectations.
Teen, 13 years old written by evrska9

Both males and females can be worried about body image. Many would say girls have it harder or boys have it harder but, in reality, we are equal. As of 2016, 90% of girls aged 15-18 wanted to change at least one thing about their bodies and boys were more or less the same. It is rare to find a girl or boy completely comfortable in their own skin. I'm lucky to be one of those few people who wouldn't change a thing about my body. Women deal more with weight and size of their body while men want more muscles or to be taller/shorter. Body image is not a myth but a very real thing.
Teen, 13 years old written by vgas3000

You know, when you're surrounded by tall, broad-shoulder blonde white friends, it really makes you think
Adult written by Caiti M.

Yes. Boys in my childhood tended to be worried about becoming muscular. Girls about being thin. As for the looks as a whole (not just body type) though boys were just as concerned with them as girls were, it's a myth they don't care.
Kid, 12 years old

Like others have said, they are quite different, with girls wanting to be thin primarily, and have nice eyebrows and hair etc and guys want to be tall and muscular and sporty. To be honest, I think the guys have it harder, becuase from what I've seen is that girls are more likely be defended when they are called ugly, fat etc than boys hat are insulted for their looks, but either way, there are different ideals for both genders .
Teen, 13 years old written by mavrc31027

I think so, the girls at my school are more worried about their weight and overall physical appearance and guys are more worried about muscles, height, and how deep their voice is.
Adult written by felinadeck111

Girls tend to care more about how they look like in their face, skin, body,clothes and other more personal areas. Boys care more about clothing and shoes and their body.
Teen, 17 years old written by JesusPie

This isn't necessarily true - a pretty wide generalization. Edit: Whoops, thought I was replying
Teen, 13 years old written by DexterMorgan

All I can say is definitely. They\we lean toward those. I'd say 10% lean toward "what's in the inside that counts". Kids can be real cruel
Adult written by joansuttond

My son also struggles with being the smallest in his class. Although he is at the far end of the size spectrum, he is healthy, eats well and is very active. I credit his teachers and school administrators for encouraging all the students to recognize and be accepting of differences. This has helped, but does not completely eliminate hurt feelings.
Adult written by Keep running

I agree with Memphis Mom- my 13 yr old son struggles with being skinny and being called a twig. He is athletic, smart, fun, kind and so many other wonderful things but it's hard for him to be the skinny kid. I used to think the body image problems were just with girls! Boys at this age really vary in height and size depending on where they are in puberty and development.
Parent of a 12 and 16-year-old written by Memphis Mom

My son is very body-image conscious, much more than my daughter. He is very very skinny--tiny bones etc. Since he was 7 years old he has been very sensitive to being called skinny and will quickly tell you that in the same way that it's not nice to say that someone is fat, it's also not nice to say someone is skinny. This has been a touchpoint for us since our culture reveres and rewards "skinny" while not realizing that for some (in this case a 12 yr old boy), skinny is equated to puny or wimpy. Our response is to focus on "healthy." Eating properly, exercising and doing all the things that make a person healthy are the only things you can do to affect those issues; his bones are his bones!