Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Newsflash! Men (Even Hot, Famous Ones) Can Have Body Image Issues Too

November 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Eating Disorders, Guys

It’s surprising (and sad) to see a totally fit, attractive guy like Ryan Seacrest  talking about how he needs to lose weight.

Last Friday (while home sick, recovering from H1N1) I got to watch Ryan on Ellen. I never get to watch her show, so it was the “silver lining” to being sick.

But I was caught off guard by her interview with her good friend Ryan.

One of the first questions she asked Ryan was about what the famous chef Gordon Ramsay had said to him on his show that made him feel like he needed to suddenly lose weight.

Apparently, Ramsay had told Ryan he could see a “roll” on his mid-section!

Um … WTF?! Who says that to someone else, on his own radio show?, no less?!

I first thought, “Ugh, what an ass!” And my second thought was “ROLL? WHERE?!” The guy is fit as a fiddle and definitely easy on the eyes.

But something I didn’t know about Ryan until recently — which explains his self-consciousness at hearing he had “a roll”– was that he’d been a chubby kid who had, like many people, battled his weight during the early years.

Naturally, then, hearing someone else criticize you (publicly!) for your weight (when you feel good about yourself!) has to be a huge ego blow.

And Ryan was clearly hurt by Ramsay’s words. He tried to laugh it off with Ellen as though it’s just part of the business (i.e., being fit) but admitted after the show with Ramsay aired, he got self-conscious and ramped up his sessions with his trainer and has been running harder and training harder … trying to “tone up.”

I love Ellen for a lot of reasons, but mostly because she accepts herself the way she is and says what other people are thinking. Ellen really has the cojones to just lay it out there. Her response was sensitive, thoughtful, and well, genius.

I can’t quote her verbatim because, well, I was admittedly a bit dazed when I watched the show … but basically her messages to her good friend Ryan were words we could ALL benefit from hearing.

  • She told him he’s fit and attractive just the way he is.
  • She reiterated that not everyone is built the same; we might envy a certain body type but it isn’t rational to expect we can have their shape, too.
  • She said she was concerned Ryan might take it “too far” (i.e., over-exercising/restricting–two things formerly-fat people are susceptible to) and wants him to just be comfortable in his own skin.
  • She voiced her concern that he still sees himself as that chubby, pimply, braces-wearing 9-yr old (i.e., body dysmorphia) even though he’s a buff 30-something year old guy with a life many would envy.

Ellen was genuinely worried for her friend; you could see it written all over her face.

And I recognized that concern; it was the same concern I saw expressed by my own boyfriend (now husband), friends and family when, at my slimmest in 2005, I still “felt fat” and wanted to lose more. I didn’t see myself as I was … and now that I’ve gained weight and am coming to terms with my “half-way body” I realize just how ridiculous I was being.

Therein lies the problem with disordered eating/disordered thinking … it’s 100 percent irrational — but you don’t see it til you’re out of that dark place (i.e., now).

Ellen didn’t use the words “disordered eating” or “disordered thinking” but she alluded to it plenty.

To see someone with all the fame, success, good looks, and good fortune as Ryan Seacrest — and to see him vulnerable as a pre-teen girl in a dressing room who realizes her body has changed and she suddenly has hips and needs to shop in the juniors section  — was eye-opening.

It’s not every day you hear guys moaning about their bodies. Especially men as toned and fit as Ryan. And it made me really sad. I think what is saddest most of all is that it seems taboo for guys to talk about body image, but I know many of them  feel it, too.

For example, my best (male) friend in college, Jason struggled with body dysmorphia after losing a significant amount of weight our sophomore year. As his close friends, we recognized his struggles and would try to talk to him about it, but it wasn’t easy; guys just aren’t as comfortable talking about it as women are.

Sadly, Jason passed away in 2006 at the age of 27 following a long battle with brain cancer, but I’ll always remember my friend for how he truly lived every day like it was his last, especially after we graduated and he’d really come into his own. He didn’t sweat the small stuff, and that included obsessing about his weight.

I can’t speak for my beloved friend who is so dearly missed, but I’m pretty sure in the shadow of cancer, the size of his waist was the furthest thing from his mind.

Between Ellen and Jason, we can all learn something about what is truly important: loving ourselves as we are. I hope Ryan — and all of us — can take that message and run with it.

How about you? Do you know any men that suffer from body dysmorphia?


14 Responses to “Newsflash! Men (Even Hot, Famous Ones) Can Have Body Image Issues Too”
  1. cggirl says:

    I think Ellen’s responses were great!

    Btw I found myself reading your older, very interesting post about your halfway body… That was a great post. Back then I would’ve suggested to you – buy clothes you look hot in NOW, and take flattering pictures of yourself. I do it all the time and it’s great therapy. Whenever I put on something I look awesome in, I look in the mirror and think “wow I AM hot”, and then I promptly take a picture to remind myself of this later when I’m not feeling quite as hot… Haha. The part about taking pictures is actually pretty recent – inspired by some amazing ladies I see online blogging about fashion and posting pics of themselves – and I’m telling you, it’s AWESOME. In fact, I stand behind my original suggestion that we post pics of ourselves in our awesome outfits here on the blog! Or maybe on the facebook page… We still have not seen you in your awesome Ann Taylor pants woman!

    Also, I have found, through observation of others, that life is not substantially different at a size 4 or a size 14. As this blog teaches us, we can have the same issues regardless…

    And as for this current post – it IS very sad but true that guys feel this pressure too. I know men close to me who have these issues, and this includes both very thin and not so thin guys… we are all susceptible. Again, so many things around me show that there is no magic size or shape, for men OR women, at which we will just be happy and not have these issues anymore. So the good news about that is that we CAN be pretty damn happy with ourselves even if we aren’t at what we think of as the “ideal” size/shape. I hope Ryan Seacrest realizes that… There must be a lot of pressure when you’re in showbiz.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Cggirl, great idea of the pic!! That post was written in July and I’ve def been buying things that fit or only wearing things that do (regardless of size). I like the idea of posting pics of ourselves…maybe I can solicit photos for my next post and I’ll get a friend to take a pic of me in those pants, since hubby is gone til next Sunday. I forgot I promised I’d do that!! Eeks!!

      So true (we can have the same issues, regardless of size). And, like you, I hope Ryan realizes that.

  2. Meems says:

    I love Ellen’s response – realistic, down to earth, caring…the things people need to hear. I come from a family in which the men are very thin, so I never heard anything quite like this growing up, but my dad was always very self-conscious of his “chicken legs” and hated wearing shorts, which is just the other end of the body dissatisfaction spectrum in which men shouldn’t be skinny. They “should be” muscular and buff, which isn’t how all men are built.

    I’m with cggirl with buying clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. I’ve done a major closet overhaul over the past few months and have gotten rid of almost all the clothing that doesn’t fit me right, doesn’t look the way I like, makes me self conscious, or is too small. There’s no reason to keep any of it, and I’d rather have clothing that helps me feel better about myself. I haven’t taken pictures yet – I’m still iffy about how I look in photographs – but I like the idea. I just need to get used to the fact that I’m often going to be the biggest among my friends, and I do still have some issues around that.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Meems, that’s interesting about your dad on the other end of the dissatisfaction spectrum. It seems no one is really immune…

      • julie says:

        I have a neighbor, a man in his 50s, who won’t wear shorts. His legs are too skinny. It can be 99F, and he’ll wear pants. It’s mind-blowing, really. And he works outside in the sun.

  3. Yum Yucky says:

    Hadn’t thought of men dealing with this. I’ve known zero men in my life with this problem, but now that I read your post, maybe it’s really “zero men” who actually ADMITTED this problem.

    I balk at people on a major money quest who think it will fix all their life’s problems if/when they attain the cash. Seacrest is a perfect example (unfortunately) that when it comes right down to it, we all generally pretty much deal with the same dang personal issues in some form on another. Geesh.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Exactly, Josie–we’re ALL human, with the same issues. Some just hide them better than others. Others choose to lay their issues out there (like we do here) hoping it will help others feel less alone and bring awareness to an otherwise taboo subject.

  4. Candice says:

    Ellen’s response was beautiful and intelligent. Good for her.

    I think we’d be shocked if all the Hollywood men who had similar issues were to come forward. I love Ryan Reynolds, but it seems to me that he gets thinner with every film I see him in (no proof, just personal perspective).

    My brother recently gained some weight and has had several of his friends say (literally), “Wow, you got FAT!” Thankfully, my brother has a good perspective on things (since there are/have been several obese people in our family) and he knows that carrying an extra 30 lbs doesn’t make him less of a person or huge in any way.

    What’s interesting to me is how comfortable people – actually, no, men – were in saying that to him. I think a big difference is that women are raised to not say negative things about a person’s weight to their face, whereas men have that joking culture between them where they get away with saying some hurtful things, but all in the name of fun. (Not that I think Gordon Ramsey was trying to be funny.)

  5. Sarah Hannah says:

    Ryan Reynolds…*faint*

  6. mamaV says:

    Any one in Hollywood is prone to suffer from this madness. If we have a problem figuring out “what is normal” — can you imagine trying to figure it out in the public eye?

    The more males that come out about these types of insecurities the better. The focus has traditionally always been on women, so I hate to say it, but its actually good for ALL if men start getting the (unrealistic) heat as well.

    Ellen, as always, is classy. She is a great example of a down-to-earth role model. Interestingly, her current girlfriend (can’t recall her name– she was on Allie McBeal) suffered from anorexia. I would think that Ellen is likely helping her stay healthy and happy with herself. I say this because I believe having a partner who is self positive goes a long way!


  7. Shoshie says:

    I really appreciate this article, as my husband definitely feels self-conscious about his belly. And as much as I tell him I love him and is body and he’s perfect, he’s still convinced that he needs to slim down.

    However, I do worry that the tone of this article and many responses is “Isn’t it terrible when people who aren’t fat feel fat?” Really, it’s terrible when anyone feel self-conscious about their bodies. I’m a fat woman. On any given day I feel fat. But…I am. Fat. It’s my body. Just like I’m a short woman with overdyed hair and long eyelashes. So I think it’s not about discouraging people from feeling too fat or too skinny because they’re average. It’s about REMOVING the concept of too fat or too skinny or too anything-that’s-in-the-normal-range-of-human-bodies-and-experiences. I feel fat because I am fat, and that’s OK.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Shoshie, I think you’re right to say that anyone should feel ok about themselves but in this case, I was broaching the (uncomfortable/taboo) subject of body dysmorphia, which many people struggle with. And seeing a man so visibly experience it was eye-opening.

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