Why is it that the first thought that comes to mind when picturing wellness, usually involves a woman as the center figure? How is it that skincare, meditation, and even therapy have become activities that only “women should do?”
There’s usually one guy in a yoga class of eleven girls.
Over the years, different notions of wellness were exclusively marketed towards women, ultimately resulting in its feminized frame. Alongside that, are years upon years of teaching men that taking care of themselves is, in any context outside of athleticism, wrong, feminine, and frowned upon.
Different studies have shown that women are more prone to healthier lifestyles out of hyperawareness of their physical state (partially due to societal expectations of women), and their ability to communicate more openly about what they’re experiencing. On the other hand however, men stray away from healthier lifestyles, with research suggesting that predominant modes of masculinity render subjects, like wellness, useless and “for girls.” The results of this are apparent, with the average life expectancy for women being significantly higher than men.
predominant modes of masculinity render subjects, like wellness, useless and “for girls”
The stigma surrounding men and wellness may seem trivial, however it’s actually part of the larger, more pressing issue of men and mental health. Middle-aged white men have the highest rate of suicide, accounting for 69.67% of suicide deaths in the US in 2018. Moreover, the overall statistics suggest that men die by suicide at a rate of 3.56x more than women (as of 2018).
men die by suicide at a rate of 3.56x more than women
Our society often excludes men from the conversation of mental health, largely due to how they’re expected to act from a young age. Boys are taught not to cry, express how they’re feeling, or make a big issue out of things that their parents deem as mundane. From the get-go, our society cultivates a hostile environment towards men and emotions, ultimately resulting in their apprehension towards seeking helping or simply talking about how they’re feeling.
The state of men and mental health affords us a looking glass into the state of men and wellness. There’s usually one guy in a yoga class of eleven girls. There’s a lot of men that think meditation is stupid. There’s friends, partners, and fathers that refuse to seek help because they’re “stronger than that.” In an unfortunate twist of events, wellness has become a sign of weakness for men, but the truth is nowhere near that.
Taking a step forward and choosing to better oneself is the ultimate sign of strength.
Taking a step forward and choosing to better oneself is the ultimate sign of strength. It’s necessary to take care of the self, mind, body, and soul. In an increasingly expectation-driven world, it’s imperative that all genders break down those very expectations and open the doors for each other to thrive.
The conversation of men, wellness, and mental health is far from over, and the surface of how deep it runs has only been scratched. But what we can do however, is show the men, women, and all our gender-fluid friends in our lives, the support they need to get to the place they deserve.
 Assari, S. (2017, March 8). If men are favored in our society, why do they die younger than women. https://theconversation.com/if-men-are-favored-in-our-society-why-do-they-die-younger-than-women-71527  Yin, S. (2007, November 9). Gender Disparities in Health and Mortality. Retrieved from https://www.prb.org/genderdisparities/  Suicide Statistics. (2020, October 28). Retrieved from https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/