STUDENT WRITERS: Negative Effects of Toxic Masculinity

This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Adam Oches
(from Vassalboro, Maine)

The negative effects of various media like television and movies on women and young girls have rightfully been shown time and again. The negative effects on men from these same forms of media is a much lesser known, but no less real, phenomenon. Media is filled with images of unrealistic body standards and the glorification of unhealthy behaviors. Media has negative effects on men that greatly damage the self-image of males in today’s society.

Many movies and television shows with male leads often have men with very muscular bodies on camera consistently. Action heroes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris Hemsworth, and Hugh Jackman are all well known for their muscular definition and physical fitness. The average movie male lead has a level of fitness that requires the strict regimentation of diet and exercise that the majority of people will be unable to achieve. These unrealistic standards that require these measures are already a problem, but the superhero look has another problem to it. It is unsustainable.

In preparation for shirtless scenes in the show The Witcher, Henry Cavill had to dehydrate himself for multiple days in order to attain the look wanted for the scene. Bodybuilders, like the aforementioned Schwarzenegger, dehydrate themselves to reduce their fat percentage. This practice is lethal if sustained for any kind of long period of time. It even has the high possibility of being fatal in a short period of time. In 1992, professional bodybuilder Mohammed Benaziza died after competing in a contest from dehydration-induced heart failure.

Stoicism is a philosophy originating with the ancient Greeks. It advocates for mastery of the self through the control of one’s emotions. This idea is not inherently harmful, however it can quickly lead to repressed emotions and the effects those have on mental health. This philosophy has embedded itself into our society’s ideal man. In various action movies, the main character does not cry. He does not show grief. His emotions are kept to himself and are not shown to the outside world.

Since these strong, manly men do not cry; crying must be a sign of weakness. Any sign of sadness is to be shunned and kept in the dark for fear of being exposed as a weaker, lesser man. Society has convinced itself that in order to be a man, they must face all challenges and hardships without showing pain or asking for help. Our media has perpetuated this idea. Its effects are very clear. Young men face pain alone and are afraid to ask for help to alleviate some of their pain. This can lead to the abuse of chemicals like alcohol, a negative self-image, and in the worst of cases, suicide.

In conclusion, the media we consume in our daily lives has had negative impacts on the wellbeing of generations of young men. Too often is the issue of the media’s portrayal of people seen as based on sex. This is not a women’s issue or a men’s issue; it is a people issue. Media has affected both sexes negatively. The problem with media is not its portrayal of women or men, it is with people in general.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line,


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