TV stars have joined a campaign to help tackle the taboo around male body image.
It follows new research commissioned by suicide prevention charity CALM showed that one in two (58%) young men have felt negatively about their body as a result of the pandemic.
With a clear knock-on effect for their mental wellbeing, almost half (48%) revealed their mental health has suffered because of how they feel about their body.
The research also showed that a fifth of young men (21%) don't feel comfortable talking to anyone about their body.
To encourage more men to open up, CALM and Instagram have teamed up to launch CALM Body Talks, a series of interviews with famous faces from the world of comedy, TV and sport to get more men talking about their bodies.
Launching on @calmzone on Wednesday, CALM Body Talks will feature Strictly Come Dancing and Made In Chelsea Jamie Laing opening up about his own height and hair worries and comedian Russell Kane discussing societal issues of “bigorexia” and male role models.
They'll be joined by ex-pro footballer Leon McKenzie discussing the physical and mental impact of retiring from the game and body acceptance activist Stevie Blaine opening up about teenage insecurities and his personal journey to self-love.
Jamie Laing said: “Like so many men, I have experienced a variety of body image concerns in my life. From worrying about my weight when I gave up playing rugby as a teenager, to stressing about my hair loss in my late 20s, these are issues I struggled to talk about at first.
"Yet so many of my friends have gone through similar struggles, so I want to help Campaign Against Living Miserably and Instagram open up the conversation to show men they are not alone. We all have off days when we look in the mirror, but we can either learn to love what we see or make positive changes - the key is to do it for yourself and your mental health!”
Russell Kane added: “The last 12 months have had a huge impact on the nation’s physical and mental health, and for many a knock on effect for how they feel about themselves. A more sedentary lifestyle, brought on by multiple lockdowns, has meant looking in the mirror for some is a more worrying experience than usual.
"Despite so many men feeling the same way, we know blokes are unlikely to open up about their concerns, and this bottling up of emotions can have serious mental health repercussions. Whether it’s being honest about your hairline worries to your partner, or proudly posting a selfie in your swim shorts to Instagram- It’s time to get talking!”
Kira Wong O’Connor, EMEA Policy Programmes Manager, Instagram, said: “The body positivity movement has continued to build a strong community on Instagram in recent years, providing a space for all to share their experiences, encourage others to practise self-love and showcase how every-body is beautiful.
"Whilst there are some amazing men like @bopo.boy and @kelvindavis championing male body positivity online, we are excited to be working with CALM to get more men talking about how they feel about their bodies and take the conversation to the mainstream.”
And Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM added: "Body image worries affect people of all genders, body types and backgrounds. And the conversation is much deeper than just weight or body shape. The worries are complex, and can have a significant impact on people’s mental wellbeing. We know that men can often feel disengaged or excluded from the conversation of body positivity because of unhelpful stereotypes.
"So, like with so many of our campaigns, our partnership with Instagram aims to challenge stereotypes of masculinity and open up a new conversation for men and the communities and people around them.
"It's totally normal to worry about whatever strange things you spot in the mirror but it is important to get help if these worries begin to affect your mental wellbeing. As a suicide prevention organisation we know how important it is to talk about everyday worries and tackle them head on. We hope this campaign will be the start of a new conversation that leads more men to seek the support they need.”
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide through vital, life-saving support and collective action. If you’re struggling, talk to CALM on 0800 58 58 58 (UK) or through their webchat. Their trained support workers are available from 5pm to midnight every day to provide practical support and advice, whatever you’re going through.
To find out more or to read more about some of the worries mentioned here visit www.thecalmzone.net
Photo credit: Joseph Sinclair