Last year The Sun in the UK did a project. They took four men and put them in underwear ads. They put them in poses as models and athletes and kept the pictures untouched. They called it the “real man” project.
It resurfaced this year on Reddit. Like anything that gets popular on Reddit, everyone picks up the story. Everyone started to cover the story with the “real men” tag on it.
I hate the term “real men”.
I hate the term “real” in front of any human being. It dehumanizes a class of people while trying to bring another class up. I remember when the whole “real women have curves” quote came out. I did not understand it. I did not understand why saying the way someone looks makes him or her real or fake. Why would you say “fat shaming” in one breath and “anorexic models” in the next? So someone who is obese is not real? So someone who works out and takes care of their body is not real?
So here is an opinion from a guy who has always had body image issues.
How is this supposed to help?
As a guy this campaign makes no sense. They chose four real men who are fit. One man looks like a lumberjack. One man looks like he goes to the gym and the other two look like they run in marathons. In fact, the pictures side by side do not look that much different. It is not like a major shock. Less touch ups and less abs. Less body hair and a little more skin.
Real men have working hearts. It has nothing to do with the way you look. My body image issues happened because so many people told me that I was fat ugly and worthless. Guess what, I believed it for a long time. No one told me any different. I refuse to let my children feel that way. Not if I can help it. I also am a food addict. I refuse to put down other people to make myself feel better. I do not think this type of project would help me feel better about myself.
I will never look like a professional model or athlete but I also know that they are just as real as every other human being. Should companies use untouched and unphotoshopped pictures? Of course. Will they?
But it is semantics.
Four men with less than “model” bodies imitated poses of four men who model and play professional sports. They looked good doing it. In fact, I would actually say on some of them they look better than the people they are imitating.
But that has nothing to do with being real.
Real men…real women have working hearts.
And if you ever want to see one, look in the mirror.