Mental Health Awareness Week, held last month in the UK, focussed heavily on the all-important topic of body image, which is why Manual, the UK’s leading men’s health and wellbeing platform felt it was essential to shed light on these issues with their Men of Manual campaign.
The campaign was curated to raise awareness on how the pressure to have a perfect body is negatively affecting the mental health 0f men as well as women.
Recent campaigns from brands such as Dove and Misguided have outwardly rejected misconceptions around the ‘bikini body’ and as a result, women’s bodies are finally being increasingly celebrated in all sizes, races, genders, and aesthetics.
However, despite great strides being made in terms of the way women are represented in the media, the same can not be said for men, which has led Manual to commit themselves to raise awareness on how misrepresentation is affecting men.
Shockingly, according to a recent white paper published by New Macho, 80% of people agree that adverts are influencing gender stereotypes.
For too long outdated ideas about what masculinity looks like have been reinforced within media and advertising, who are often choosing stoic, Greek God-like men in their underwear to sell the most basic of products. Today men are keen to be perceived as well-rounded and emotionally engaged people, however, over two-thirds of men (69%) don’t feel that brands are speaking to them or represent who they truly are.
According to research conducted by Manual, 78% of men don’t believe ANY of their friends look like a typical Gillette model – the tanned, square-jawed, clean shaved Adonis – these men simply do not represent ‘real’ men.
Manual believes that this constant representation of the ‘ideal man’ in advertising is adversely affecting men’s mental health. Feelings of inadequacy, alienation, and increasing pressures to live up to an impossible ideal deeply affect confidence and feelings of self-worth. By show-casing these Men of Manual, Manual hopes to shed light on these issues and show the bodies of real men, celebrating their differences.
By including men such as Britain’s first plus-size male model, Ben Whittaker, vitiligo spokesman Bashir Aziz, and trans-activist Kenny Ethan Jones, Manual is calling for a more diverse representation of men’s bodies in advertising.
In recent years, societal pressures have reached boiling point, not helped by today’s online and social media culture. With the whole world projecting their best foot forward it’s no surprise that men are being left feeling a little inferior. The same New Macho white paper discovered that young men thought their popularity on social media made them “more desirable” which further highlights how the image led, self-obsessed world of Instagram is having a profound effect on men’s relationship with their bodies – a conversation which before now, has again, always been largely female-focused.
George Pallis, Co-Founder of Manual, says: “If you only look at the men in adverts, you would think that all men have six-packs, the perfect amount of stubble and permanently bronzed skin. It is completely unrealistic and doesn’t reflect what masculinity really looks like. In a world where opening up about mental and physical wellbeing is arguably more crucial than ever before, it’s vital that we all work together to de-stigmatise men’s wellness and improve the health and happiness of men everywhere.”
James Makings, a Man of Manual says, ‘My relationship with my body was atrocious. I would always think about how much I hated my body and to get to where I am now, it’s been a real journey. A massive part of all this is changing your mindset. It’s really easy to get stuck in a negative cycle. I’m still not 100% there and I still have to regularly say to myself ’stop hating your body so much!’
As part of Manual’s wider campaign of de-stigmatising issues around men’s health that may be deemed ‘shameful’, Manual is challenging what real men look like, helping break down the stereotypical image that we see plastered all over adverts. Manual is committed to challenging the outdated notion that real men just shrug their shoulders and carry on, ultimately, de-shaming men’s deepest fears.
Manual aims to be a one-stop-shop for men’s wellness, creating a powerful movement to show men how they need to take back control of their overall wellness, turn their backs on toxic masculinity and breakdown the stigma many have when it comes to opening up about issues commonly deemed as shameful.
Head to Manual.co now and find out more and take back control of aspects of your health!