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April 2008 Blogs
BOYS - What real guys think about body image, the media and what girls assume guys think!
BOYS, April 2008, by Brian Bogaert
and What Girls
Here are 6 ‘real guys’ from an Ontario High School that were brave enough to sit down with me to chat about their views and opinions on all this. I was pleasantly surprised at how they feel very much the way girls express to GCDA the way they WANT guys to feel!
The group consisted of (not real names): Josh, 14, who plays guitar, loves all kinds of music and snow & wakeboards for fun; Jason, 16, who also plays guitar and who’s favourite band is The Tragically Hip; Jordan, 15 who plays hockey (defense) and is into jogging; Flea, 16, who’s into the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus and Jazz fusion; Jae, 16, who likes working out, cars and talking to girls; and Tony, 17, who is proud of originally being from Afghanistan and loves playing and watching soccer. Six regular guys into regular things who talked honestly in support of this article.
First, none of these guys currently have girlfriends, although some have in the past. I asked them to be as honest as possible because girls really want to know the truth about how guys think.
We started off discussing their definition of ‘body image’ and the difference between guys and girls on this subject. Here’s what they had to say:
- “Body image is how a girl looks or how she feels about how she looks.”
- “How a girl talks to you and acts around you tells you how she views herself.”
- “Guys don’t worry about their appearance as much. They are generally more confident in their appearance or don’t care as much. Some girls are like this too.”
- “Both guys and girls worry about their body image either to attract each other or because they are afraid of being judged.”
GIRLS AND LOOKS
As I listened to their answers I wondered how guys felt about all the effort girls put into their looks. So I asked them.
- “Half the effort they go to is totally unnecessary and a waste of money.”
- “50% of what they do to ‘get ready’ would be plenty enough.”
- “If it takes more than 90 seconds to do one part of your body, like eyes, it’s too long!”
- “Makes me wonder ‘would I like this girl if she wasn’t so made up?’ I’d rather know her naturally.”
ASSUMPTIONS and PREFERENCES
Part of why I was asked to do this article is because many female GCDA readers write in frustrated about negative body image in the media, and what they THINK guys want them to look like. I wanted to either prove to guys that girls are right, or dispel the myth! First, here’s what our guys think girls assume:
- “Girls think we just want them to be hot, to be one of the top girls in school, and to show off what they’ve got by what they wear and how they carry themselves.”
- “Girls think we just want what we see in the media on TV, the internet and in the movies.”
- “They think we want them to dress up in high heels, tight clothes and other uncomfortable stuff.”
Now here are their opinions on how they honestly prefer girls to be:
Josh – “Although I do notice, how could you not sometimes?, it’s not all about physical appearance; I like good personalities, well-rounded people who are different and interesting to talk to.”
Jason – “I’d say someone engaging I can talk to even if we don’t have all the same interests; she can listen to me and hold her end of a conversation. I like girls that are more natural – no plastic surgery, no make-up, as long as they look after themselves and aren’t messy.”
Jae – “I like girls that are caring, who know what they’re doing in life, dependable, comfortable with themselves and other people.”
Tony – “For me, I like girls that are funny, have nice eyes, no make-up.”
Jordan – “A good personality really stands out for me, cheerful, sporty and active. It’s nice to have common interests with girls. Make-up is okay but I don’t like lipstick.”
Flea – “Not the girls who are just into themselves, who are not nice and think they are the best there is. I like girls that are cool to just hang out with, a friend when you need one. Girls that are cute but not that supermodel look. I like real much better.”
Just for the record, none of THESE guys liked the idea of short-term physical-only relationships if they had a girlfriend. Sure, they agreed that they do notice girls that dress in tight or revealing clothing, it’s like wearing a T-shirt that says LOOK AT ME but if you look you get in trouble.
They all agreed that if they were looking for a girlfriend what they really preferred was long-term relationships with girls they liked, trusted and can talk to.
WHAT IS ‘ATTRACTIVE’?
Everyone is attracted to a certain look, and ‘attractive’ is different for everyone. That’s why being unique is so cool. Just like for girls, the way we view ‘attractive’ is different in everyone’s own eyes and comes with our own definitions. The media’s definition of beauty is warped according to these guys and I wanted them to give their opinion of what message they thought girls who went for that kind of beauty were giving guys.
Here’s what they said:
- “Girls say that they want a nice guy and a relationship, but they dress and act to attract the jerks that are going to treat them poorly.”
- “Girls attract our attention by what they wear and what body parts they show off and then they act all offended when they get that attention. The message doesn’t match the attitude or the expectation. They get attention but not the attention they hoped for.”
- “The bait you use will determine the fish you attract. It’s confusing because their ‘look’ doesn’t match what they really want. How are we to know?”
- “Mixed messages really bother me. I wish girls would just be themselves and say what they really want like through what they say, how they dress, and how they act.”
GIRLS IN THE MEDIA
The guys seemed to feel that girls believed that what guys really wanted was girls who looked like the girls we see in the media. I asked the guys how they felt about some of these girls that we see every day in the media, especially the ones that really stand out and have been in the news lately.
Here is what they had to say:
- “Oh my God, those girls are the worst!”
- “All they do is show a bad influence for others who look up to them.”
- “Total disaster!”
- “You look at girls in music videos and they are always portrayed in a really bad way that is not even close to reality. The messages are programming people to act in a way that is not even close to real life.”
- “It seems to me that a lot of it teaches that it’s okay to use false advertising. It’s not about being who you really are.”
- “You see a lot of the girls who started out all sweet and nice eventually sell out and just promote sex and being bigger than they really are.”
THE GUYS’ ROLE
So I asked them about why they thought girls behaved this way and if they thought that GUYS helped shape this behaviour in any way through how they treated girls. At first they were a bit defensive about it but as we talked they opened up about their role:
- “It’s a small percentage of guys…usually the popular ones…who the girls are trying to impress and who demand that girls act and dress in particular ways.”
- “There are guys out there who do dumb things to manipulate girls because they know the girls want attention. Most of us know who these guys are or what they really want but the girls might not or they so badly want any attention to feel good about themselves they just go along with it.”
- “If we notice a girl in the media and make a big deal of it, the girls will think that’s what we want. Noticing and wanting are two different things. They compare themselves to these media images and believe they will get attention from us if they do the same things. Sure, we do have an influence but sometimes we don’t even know how strong it is.”
THE IMPACT OF MEDIA ON GUYS
What about guys? Do they compare themselves to guys in the media?
- “We know the media is exaggerated and not reality, but I do still workout to stay in shape.”
- “I don’t mind looking good and getting attention from girls.”
- “It’s all an illusion and I don’t want to look like those guys.”
Ultimately we agreed that most people are influenced by what they see in the media – even guys! – and that being a young person is tough.
Low self esteem, peer pressure, and the desire to be included and accepted contributes to girls and guys sometimes making decisions that are not necessarily best for them, or doesn’t get them what they really want. Hopefully by finding out what is truly going on for guys, girls who feel like they need to impress or be a certain way can choose to just be themselves. These guys really like girls that are ‘real’ and comfortable with themselves.
Jae – “Looks aren’t who a girl is. Actions speak a lot louder than words and you need to be comfortable with yourself.”
Jason – “A lot of girls naturally assume the worst. I think they have to because of how girls psychologically bully each other. They learn to expect the worst and always be on the lookout. Guys are different… we are a lot more obvious.”
And girls, we want your feedback!! Comment below and let us know what you think about these subjects, what the guys had to say, and other topics we could write about in the future.
Most of all, in the end it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks except yourself. Like the saying goes: be real. be you.