Photo credit: Youth.SG/Angela Ouyang

Figuring out body image from a guy’s perspective

Guys can also feel self-conscious about their bodies.

Brandon Chia

Published: 8 February 2017, 12:00 AM

When we talk about body image issues, we usually hear more stories from the ladies. It seems that more of them are openly self-conscious about their weight, than guys would be.

You would be surprised to know that many boys have body image issues too, just that we might be keeping it on the down low.

The start of my weight issues began whilst growing up with two older brothers. I dealt with constant teasing and bullying, especially about my weight and size, although I’ve always knew it was never their intention to hurt or cause me grief.

Back then, when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t help but feel that I was round, even though I wasn’t classified as overweight.

It got worse when I started studying in an all-boys school because there was a pressure to look healthy and strong. Most guys were either active in sports or involved in a uniform group, so they didn’t have to worry about keeping fit.

It was normal for them to visit the gym, play football or basketball, or go running.


Most of my friends grew up hoping to look like the Hemsworth Brothers (left and right).
Photo credit: Yahoo Celebrity


On the other hand, I belonged in a small handful that was into arts and drama, which meant I was hardly doing any form of physical activity.

What made everything worse was my height, or lack thereof. Compared to the majority of adolescent boys in my school, I was short and stout, which emphasised my “roundness” further.

I once experienced how relentless 13-year-old boys were when they were watching the Trim-and-Fit (TAF) Club members running laps around the campus.

“Look at the fatty run.”

“Oh my God! Every time he moves, he jiggles.”

Those comments would make anyone upset to just hear. Can you imagine how the overweight guys must have felt?

After that incident, I felt even more conscious about my body. I started skipping lunch and ate as little as I could for breakfast and dinner.

I repeated the cycle for two years, even when my friends encouraged me to eat and reassured me that I was already so skinny. I once felt ecstatic when I forgot to bring my wallet and had an excuse to not buy food…until I realised that I couldn’t get home after school.

I was pleased I managed to retain my 40kg weight, which was barely above the underweight category, for two years.


Today, I’m not so obsessed over my weight.
Photo credit: Youth.SG/Audrey Leong


I only decided to stop this nonsense when I stood in front of a mirror and realised how emaciated I looked. I could measure the diameter of one of my ribs just by the outline made by the skin clinging on to my bones.

Why did I even think starving myself was a great idea? What was the outcome I wanted out of this? Even if it was to reach the “ideal body”, I clearly failed because I ended up looking like the Corpse Bride.

Trying to adjust my eating habits was difficult in the beginning, especially when I wasn’t seeing any noticeable improvements. But I told myself to take it day by day, and to keep eating slightly more the next day and so on.

Today, I still have to deal with several side effects on my health, even though it has been about six years since I messed up my meals.

Occasionally, I experience excruciating gastric pains that force me to lie down for about half an hour to a full hour, hoping for it to subside.


Nowadays, no one has the ability to stop me from eating once I’ve started.
Photo credit: Youth.SG/Angela Ouyang


If you have one of those days where you feel conscious about how you look, it is okay. Everyone goes through that and that’s normal. Taking drastic measures like starving yourself is not normal and will just make matters worse.

Just because the media perpetuates unrealistic ideals about body types for men, such as broad shoulders, big chest, big arms, facial hair and a six-pack, it doesn’t mean that we have to follow them.

After all, we are not perfect. We might not even achieve these unrealistic ideals any time soon.

So, we might as well embrace what we’ve got, and work it.

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