Every Body celebrates inclusivity and the representation of human beings in every shape and form.
The body image issues faced by men can be much different from those of women. For one, men face pressure to perform “manliness” — that is, heteronormative ideals of masculinity should look like. This is why Mina Gerges, 23, took to his Instagram account to break down the toxic narratives in the media and pop culture that dictate what men’s bodies should look like. Along the way, he’s learned to love his body, too.
Gerges tells us that his body has always been the focus of his Instagram account, but not always in the same way. He first reached viral stardom by recreating red carpet dresses out of dollar store materials; you may remember seeing his version of Beyoncé’s 2016 CMAs red carpet dress, which Gerges made using marshmallows and Froot Loops. But as his photos gained popularity, the focus in his comments shifted from his costumes to his weight gain.
“It got to the point where I hated posting on social media because it made me extremely anxious,” Gerges explained. The negative attention led him to take an eight-month break from Instagram. The time away from social media gave him a chance to rebuild himself inside-out, and to really learn to love his body.
When he felt ready to step back onto Instagram, Gerges decided he wanted to use his platform to address what body image could mean not just for him, but for others.
“We’re conditioned to keep quiet about these very real things that so many of us go through because it’s not ‘manly’ to be vulnerable,” Gerges explains in an e-mail exchange with Brit + Co. “There’s this assumption that somehow, men aren’t affected by the unrealistic male beauty standards we’ve been spoonfed since we were young and I think it’s time to change that, to show that you can love your body and feel confident and attractive despite not having that chiseled body.”
In a large national study of college students, over two percent of men reported having an eating disorder. Gerges, who has admitted to struggling with his own eating disorder in the past, remembers feeling alienated by trying to emulate a body image that was impossible to obtain.
“But now, if anyone else is going through what I went through, they can see that someone who looks like them, or who has a similar body to them, that is confident and loves their body,” Gerges says, “even though it doesn’t look like the bodies we’re conditioned to find attractive. And hopefully, they’ll feel less alone.”
While Gerges is still on a body confidence journey, he hopes that by starting this dialogue the media will start to do a better job showing different types of male bodies.
“We need to do better when it comes to representation, to show that men have stretch marks and rolls, too, and that all sizes are desirable and worthy of visibility,” he says. Until then, he’s going to continue to work every day to love himself and change the notion that people need to change the skin they’re in.