One of the most common concerns men have is a variation on “Am I good enough.” This gets reinforced for many of us when younger by our often mistaken notions of what is masculinity. We’re constantly trying to measure up to some, often undefined, ideal.
When I was a young boy I clearly got the message that being athletic was what all boys should be. I so dearly wanted to be the developed jock who could run fast, catch the ball, and make everyone happy. Well, that wasn’t to be. I couldn’t see well, so catching was a challenge. I’ve always been a big person so I’ve never been a fast runner. My legs are strong, but not very fast. From a young age I wanted to have a different body than the one I had.
I’ve heard similar experiences from many men. And being gay can make these feelings of inadequacy more pronounced. The gay world can be unforgiving when it comes to body image. We’re all supposed to look like ripped porn models with everything in the right place.
Well, few of us could measure up to these unrealistic standards.
Becoming comfortable with who we are is a practice. Like many practices the foundation is presence. Begin noticing what’s happening in this moment. Notice how your body feels – especially when you’re feeling good. Notice the sensation of a finger gently caressing a part of your body. Be present to that sensation and savor it. When we’re savoring, it’s hard to be critical!
I encourage everyone to be more intentional around porn. I don’t believe that porn is inherently a good thing or a bad thing. The danger of porn is when we believe that we’re not good enough because our life doesn’t look like what we see in porn. The key with porn is to remember that it’s a manufactured fantasy that has no basis in reality. Rather than focus on commercial porn that only uses certain body types, look at amateur porn that shows real people having great sex. I think that’s one of the draws of amateur porn – to me there’s something exciting in being an invited voyeur into someone else’s sex life!
Begin a practice of making the mirror your friend. Yes, I know that this can be really hard so it’s best to begin with simple, friendly scenes. Start with wearing something you know you look good in. Continue to be nice to yourself and spend some time in front of the mirror at a time of day where you’re comfortable. For example, I can focus excessively on my belly so for me it’s best to spend time in front of the mirror early in the day before I’m feeling full. All it takes is a few minutes a day and that inner critic we all have can be tamed.