Feminist scholar Julia Coffey of the University of Newcastle in Australia was shocked when she learned that men care about their physical appearances.
In an article for the academic journal Social Theory and Health, Coffey wrote about her research on “current embodiments of masculinity” and its relationship to the way in which men view their own bodies.
“While appearance and ‘beauty’ are typically constructed as feminine concerns and important to women’s constructions of identity, these examples show that a concern for the body’s appearance is also an important component of current embodiments of masculinity,” Coffey wrote.
In an interview, Coffey expanded upon her research, explaining that the young male subjects of her surveys didn’t think that body image was a male issue.
One thing I was really surprised by in my work is that even though many young men described feeling “pressure” around how their bodies looked, they thought this was something that other men didn’t go through as well. Time and time again they would describe it as a “woman’s issue,” not something men worry about. I think this is one way we can look at perceptions around gender norms and see how inadequate they often are for understanding what people are actually going through.
The article, which was originally highlighted by the New Real Peer Review Twitter account, was penned by University of Newcastle Professor Julia Coffey, who focuses a large portion of her research on body image.
— New Real Peer Review (@RealPeerReview) April 18, 2018
Notice the use of the term “embodiments of masculinity.” The term, as used here, refers to the social construction of gender. Coffey writes as if to say that men are currently conditioned to care about their appearance. Like most scholars in the social sciences, Coffey seems willfully ready to ignore the science of sexual selection, which explains why human males and females desire certain physical attributes that would allow them to naturally appear more attractive to members of the opposite sex.