Forget The Alpha Complex: Why Being A Man Is About Being Authentic
Why are so many men image-obsessed? When did image start classifying identity?
The answer is always. Even centuries ago, when being overweight signified wealth, people cared about external perception. One thing that has arisen in the world which glorifies social media interactions, however, is that we let image define our actions.
Corporations try to sell you anything they can; they try to create personalities to accompany their image. Many who have adopted this mindset have done so because it's how we grew up. But, when and why did men decide that other people hold the power to define them?
Now, before anybody starts huffing and puffing behind a keyboard, allow me to explain what those questions mean.
I’m not referring to the beer-chugging, sports-obsessed, messy eaters that have sadly become a popularized male image. Rather, I’m talking about how self-deprecating we are to ourselves when it comes to how we look.
We like to criticize women for being image-oriented, but men are also so aware of their appearances that they spend entire days acting out images they think they should portray, rather than who they authentically are. It has to do with the alpha factor (a man can only allow himself to be an alpha).
The problem is that not every person is an "alpha," but we still follow those who are as if they have all of the answers. The truth is if you are trying to be an alpha, you are probably not alpha, which does not make you less valuable.
This obsession with what we are supposed to be does not allow us to enjoy ourselves fully.
One example is body hair. We are so self-conscious about our body hair that it can damper our enjoyment levels for many activities. If you have back hair, you might keep your shirt on at the pool. If you have a hairy chest and stomach, you probably keep your shirt on while you're running, no matter how hot you might be.
Sun tanning? Hope you have a private backyard. Despite it being natural, society has vilified body hair to shameful extremes; women are practically not allowed to have hair anywhere but their heads. Men have more leniency; they can keep their pubes, but only if they groom them.
Stereotypes not only exist, but are embraced by a whole generation of insecure boys who grow into men with no confidence in themselves. This mentality creates incomplete, unhappy people. Everyone focuses on women being insecure with their bodies, but men are insecure, too. Receding hairlines can feel like a sin for which you must feel ashamed and must cover up.
If you think that this is just a sign of aging, -- which means, in most cases, that you are getting wiser, which should be a cause for celebration -- you're wrong. Everyone tells you that getting old is the absolute worst. Well, for me, turning 30 was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I may not have hair on my back, but I have a hairy body. I’m not telling you not to groom; if you want to do so, please do. I just personally love grooming and cleaning myself up to a certain extent.
Being a man is not about being alpha; it’s about taking control of your life and living it how you want to live, not how society tells you to live. The best day in my recent memory was when I finally took off my shirt off and didn't care.
It was the moment I was okay with that gray hair popping out on my head. It was the moment I decided to enjoy myself. If you are afraid that some group of people may make fun of who or what you are, then you will never find where you belong — and that’s a lonely place to be.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It