I'm currently a big boy. In my adult life, my body has fluctuated many times with the extremes being between 30 inch waist, 46 chest, and 175 lbs to a 40 inch waist, 50 chest, and 260 lbs. I do have body issues and am not happy with my current appearance and health. Yes, throw the comments my way … go to the gym, eat better, etc and so on. I've heard them all. But probably the most troubling comment I've heard was from a very good friend. He said,"you know what's great about you is you are comfortable in your own skin and your size is not an issue to you." I think why that bothered me the most was that this was a very good friend, one of my best friends, and he didn't know I had body issues. We as gay men don't talk about our body image. But it's not just us gay men.
Soccer player-turned-pundit Robbie Savage, soccer legend and international pin-up David Ginola, Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, This Morning medical expert Dr Ranj, Judge Rinder’s Robert Rinder, Coronation Street’s Shayne Ward and boxing icon Frank Bruno all agreed to be photographed for part two of the Loose Women body confidence campaign. Each of the men has bravely opened up about his own body story and shared their unique reasons for wanting to address men's body confidence.
Here are two of the men's quick statements from itv.com. Of course we chose the two openly gay men.
Speaking of the pressure men are under to look a certain way Bruno says: 'When you are in this profession, especially as a dancer you look at yourself with a very critical eye.
'Don’t hang onto an unattainable fantasy of what you should look like. For younger people the pressure is even worse.
'I think men find it very difficult to open up in general, women, with their girlfriends, are just more open about things like that. Boys, men have this kind of sense of pride which almost stops them from saying, "Oh, I’ve got a fat gut".
'Just talk about it, we don’t take it seriously enough.'
But does Bruno help to feed into the body image issue when he flaunts over the hunky shirtless men on DWTS? Or does he ask all the men to take off their shirts on the show, no matter what body size or age?
Of his body confidence growing up, Robert said: 'When I was at university, I was too busy reading Proust instead of doing press ups. Even now, it depends what sort of mood I’m in. If I’m on the beach I might not take my top off, feel a bit gross. Like anybody else.
'I go to the gym every day. But I don’t necessarily go to look a certain way. I go really because my connection with exercise is about my sense of mental wellbeing.
'Quite a lot of the guys you see in the gym that look absolutely Adonis like, when you run up the top of the hill they’d sound like Dot Cotton by the time they arrived at the top. But fitness is something which is different.'
He continued: 'You’re never reasonable, fair or kind, you’re never a kind judge of your own body. You always look for the thing that you think is the worst part of it.
'Every single man – straight, gay or otherwise – feels exactly the same. The difference is, whereas women will talk to each other about it, and it’s become perfectly reasonably and rationally a very important issue to be discussed, men don’t.'
In looking at the pics above, do we believe that these fairly fit men currently have or have had body issues? And that's one of the trickiest concerns with body image. You can look at someone and not know they have an issue with their body image. Even the fittest of men may suffer from this.
But it is not just the gay men that are sharing their stories on itv.com.
"I think as somebody who's probably had issues with his body growing up, I was keen to get involved in the campaign," Robbie Savage said. "I just think that when I look at myself growing up I was silly then because I should have been happy where I was and that's why now at 42, now I just want people out there to embrace themselves and think no matter what shape and size you've got to be happy. I've got to a point now where I am happy and content."
David Ginola added: "The shoot says to men – you don't need to be ashamed of talking about your body. I think we should all be proud of ourselves."
Why is part part two of Loose Women Body Image focusing on men? For one, findings of a new Loose Women survey revealed that 73% of men don't talk to anyone about how they feel about their body, 50% of men worry about their weight, and 47% of men say they won't let their partner touch their stomach. Reason two, many of the viewers who responded to part one were men talking about their own experiences of struggling to accept their bodies.
OUR BODY STORIES CAMPAIGN IS BACK AND THE MEN HAVE STRIPPED OFF!
* Launches Monday 25 September, 12.30pm on ITV #MyBodyMyStory *