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my father and male body image

My father told me about an incident at his work recently that left me bemused.

He works in a very blue collar, male dominated work place. He was in the lunch room on his tea break, and stumbled across a conversation regarding weight. The men sitting at the lunch room table were trading diet tips.

These big, burly manly man blokey blokes were trading diet tips. Shakes, what the latest Women’s Day said, exercise tips, the lot.

That’s when I realised; I still had this idea in my head, probably due to pervasive and insistent advertising and women’s magazines that diets and diet tips were almost exclusively the woman’s “domain”.

I know intellectually that’s not true at all. I know that some diet advertising is geared towards men as well, but it wasn’t until my father himself, a rather blokey bloke, remarked on this occurrence that I actually, I guess, really realised it.

I should have realised it sooner. My father is someone who has always struggled with his weight. He’s always been unhappy with his body. I’ve watched him go on countless diets, spend dollars upon dollars, join gym after gym and nothing was happening. Nothing is happening. I watched him buy into this body ideal and despair when he couldn’t reach it.

I watch him berate himself and his body and I feel sad.

I forgot that the diet culture is also geared towards men, and that men are also expected to live up to an ideal body type and weight. Nowhere near as much as women are, but it’s still there. My father made me realise it’s still something that constantly dominates his life and his food choices. I wish I could make him see there’s nothing wrong with how he looks. I wish I could make him be happy in himself. I realise though, that the only person that is able to make that choice is him. I hope he does some day.

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