A commonly discussed problem is the pressure on women to look a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way. But what about the other half of the population? Don't men feel similar pressure?
Ten years ago, a study in Florida found that the average male desires more than 15 pounds of added muscle and a reduction in body fat. Since then, it has only gotten worse.
Movies, ads and other forms of media display muscle-bound men daily, emphasizing the idea of an "ideal" male. But such a standard is nearly impossible to reach, not only because most people don't have 3-4 hours a day to dedicate to exercise, but also because the images on display are often edited to seem more impressive.
"I know some girls may think that society pressures only them to look a certain way, dress a certain way and act a certain way, but that happens to guys too. Everywhere we look we see guys with six-pack abs on ads, we see guys on TV who are tall, white, European, who get all the girls," said one Junior, who would prefer to remain anonymous.
An estimated four out of five men have body image issues, but few admit it, which is where society's expectations come into play again.
Men aren't expected to have "feminine" emotions, or to put it in a more politically correct way, strong emotions that could be considered weak or vulnerable. Instead, they're expected to be more than human, able to be in control of themselves at all times and able to take care of others.
"I suppose there's always the stereotypes and gender roles. I see that kind of thing every day, on a personal and impersonal level. Since I was little, whenever my dad was gone, I was the 'man of the house'. And then there's things like men being expected to be the breadwinners and strong and never cry and on and on. So yeah, I see it and feel it. But I can't say it really bothers me. It's just a part of life. Of course, I can only speak for myself," said Justin Dante, a junior.
Until adolescence, both sexes have been shown to cry approximately equal amounts and with similar intensities. But after puberty, the statistics drastically fall for men in comparison to women. And such a change is not without harm; over time, emotional repression can trigger physiological changes, such as high blood pressure.
So maybe it's best to step back and reconsider what is "standard" in our society, and how it affects those who try to meet those standards.
(Lindsay Bribiescas is a junior at Santa Rosa High School. Adapted from the Santa Rosan student newspaper.)