Saturday, 23 July 2011

Out of sight

I don't look at my body very much. Only the bits I have to pay close attention to like my teeth and face and hair. The rest I hardly notice for months on end.

All sorts of changes may have occurred without my knowing. Huge clumps of body hair. Mysterious lumps. Odd rashes. I really wouldn't know. I just assume everything stays much the same from one month to the next.

I think I'd notice if I grew a pair of breasts or my boy bits disappeared but otherwise I'm blissfully ignorant. As long as my body is fit and healthy and doesn't look hideous or ridiculous, it's of little concern to me.

Women are very different and tend to pay huge attention to every minute detail of their body. They notice the slightest change immediately. Have my hips got bigger? Have my arms got hairier? How wrinkly are my elbows?

That's because their bodies are expected to be perfect, while men's are allowed to be as flawed as you like. Beer bellies, thickets of chest hair, man boobs, dangly bits, bulging bits, none of it matters unless you're an aspiring model or rent boy.

What's more, unlike a woman, who's expected to wear clothes that emphasise her body, I can wear clothes that completely hide my body so the imperfections are known to nobody but me.

And unlike a lot of men, I don't compare myself to male models and find myself lacking. I couldn't care less how thin or muscular or hair-free or handsome they are, I'm quite happy with my body and its unique one-offness. So I shall continue to ignore it as much as possible.

Botox? Waxing? Shapewear? Thanks but no thanks.
.................................................................................

My God, Amy Winehouse dead at 27. What an utterly tragic waste of talent and life.

28 comments:

secret agent woman said...

The flip side to the fact that women are more attentive to their bodies, is that men are more attentive to women's bodies. On many occasions a man has looked at me appraisingly and commented on one particular aspect or another of my body. All good so far, but still disconcerting.

And yet - Botox? Waxing? Shapewear? No thanks for me, too.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - Very true, the attention is redirected onto women. And yes, that constant emphasis on particular parts of the body, as if the whole woman doesn't exist, must be not only disconcerting but infuriating.

Grannymar said...

Nick there a few changes that you should watch for, not in an obsessive way, but by regular examination. No mirror needed. The shower is the perfect place for checking. Alas, breast cancer is not just confined to the ladies, so men should become familiar with the normal feel and shape of their breasts and and also of their dangley bits.

kylie said...

it's less of an issue in the UK than here but skin changes eed to be picked up too.
as for men commenting on womens specific body parts, i like it and i pick out the best parts of a guy too so it's all equal

e said...

I'm with you, but sometimes our bodies do things that force our attention to them, and we should take care of the basics, like hygiene.

Baino said...

I'm with Kyles, call me shallow but I do pay attention to the bodies of men. I'm a bum girl I think. You're right about our obsessiveness though. Having just spent a lot of time looking at my body whilst trying various dresses on for this damn wedding, I admire the last man who saw it and didn't make a single negative comment . . kudos to him for putting up with it! Nothing more revealing than a 360 change room mirror!

Nick said...

Grannymar - There are one or two things I check for (testicular cancer is very common nowadays), but otherwise I rarely examine my body.

Kylie - I don't look at my skin very closely, but maybe if someone I knew had had skin cancer I would be more concerned about it.

I don't think you'd find many exceptional bits on me. My body is firmly in the Mr Average category.

Nick said...

e - I'm hygiene-conscious obviously, but beyond that my body gets little attention.

Baino - Well, I always look at female bodies (of whatever age!), and why not, but hopefully I'm looking at the whole person and not just this bit or that bit. I'm sure you're far too critical of your body, like most women.

Scarlet Blue said...

Just because I'm a woman, it doesn't necessarily follow that I do the things expected of me!
Sx

Bless Amy, RIP

Nick said...

Scarlet - I can't argue with that. But I expect you pay closer attention to your body than I do!

Wisewebwoman said...

It is hard to escape the ingrained patterns of a lifetime? I'm not much for mirrors and fanatical examination of body bits, never have been.
I had years of having my breasts spoken to by men of all stripes, both professionally and socially.
It went beyond offensive and demeaning (not seeing the whole person) and I still have difficulty with isolated female body parts in advertisements.
I always see the whole man and their eyes say it all, not his abs or his arse.
XO
WWW

Macy said...

Waxed men?? No! One of my pet hates actually!

Nick said...

www - The whole staring-at-breasts thing must drive women absolutely nuts. Excuse me, guys, if you want an intelligent response try the head and not the chest.

Macy - It's amazing how many guys go in for waxing these days, even the notorious back crack and sack (youch!). Not sure whether it's the guys' distaste for body hair or their womenfolk finding smooth skin a turn-on.

secret agent woman said...

Maybe if it were anything other than compliments, I'd be not only disconcerted but also annoyed. I was just thinking about men who are in bed with me - I'd hate it from a stranger!

And I do admit, although I'm pretty accepting, I certainly notice the bodies of men I've been intimate with and have my own preferences.

wendy house said...

while gender is a convenient and popular way of describing differences in attention to body image and maintenance, it would be awesome if the discussion shifted to be based on something other than gender. Gender stereotypes do not apply exclusives, some men do suffer from anorexia, some men do pay for cosmetic surgery. Tackling the actual problems of distorted body image, step sideways from the easy solution of defining them as gender issues - which will always exclude some humans that for whatever reason do not conform to the stereotype. For example, anorexia is under-diagnosed in men - because its not anticiapted (due to gender stereotyping - prejudice)

Nick said...

Secret Agent - I'm surprised you haven't had plenty of gratuitous comments about your body from complete strangers. Isn't that what women regularly experience?

Wendy - I entirely agree with you that a lot of body issues are not necessarily gender-related. I know anorexia, for example, is generally accepted to be about wanting control over one's life. Of course I'm generalising wildly about men and women, and individual motives are much more complex.

Rummuser said...

Nick, you will remember the clothes that I wear normally - lungi and kurtha and they simply hide all the things that you so graphically describe. I also disagree with Secret Agent Woman. Men look at ALL women!

Nick said...

Ramana - Indeed, you're hiding your flaws even better than I am!

Most men only look at women up to a certain age. Middle-aged women are always complaining that they've become "invisible" to men who only have eyes for hot twenty somethings.

John Gray said...

nick
if I could have the body of a 30 year old I would be happy

ok old joke...

i'd settle for russell crowe but thats another story

my body is fucked

Nick said...

John - I'll settle for a body that's functioning reliably, whatever its physical age. You never know, the body of a 30 year old might have a terminal disease.

Los Angelista said...

I live in LA: waxing and shapewear are my friends. I'd probably do botox, too, if I wasn't afraid of needles and chemicals. ;)

Nick said...

Liz - You mean they're completely normal in LA? Or just that you feel completely normal about relying on them? Actually, I think waxing and shapewear are pretty common just about everywhere these days.

secret agent woman said...

Oh sure. Those men I either ignore or tell them what they should do with themselves.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - I'd love to watch you doing the latter!

blackwatertown said...

I'm not sure that you're right Nick. We used to be able to get away with it, but not as much any longer.
Or maybe that's just me.
(Goes and cries in a corner.)

Nick said...

Blackwater - Why, what is your loved one demanding? Top to toe waxing? Impressive abs? Ultra-flat stomach?

Liz said...

Typical man: you should pay some attention, ah-hum, at your age, to your body changes. They might be significant. Not for beauty's sake but health's.

Nick said...

Liz - Typical man? How very dare you, petal! I've never been so insulted. Well, I do pay attention to the bits that might be a sign of something nasty - like testicular cancer. But otherwise, everything seems to be healthy enough.