Beauty standards and Male Fashion

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    I did a bit of a search and couldn’t find a thread about this. I was thinking it could be good to share our experience with conventional beauty standards and how it relates to fashion. There is a lot of talk around this for women, rightly so, but I seldom here men talking openly about these things.

    Do you subscribe to traditional views about male beauty or reject them? How does this manifest in your style?

    What are male beauty standards to you?

    Are your views about male and female beauty consistent?

    I’d love to hear people share their experiences and discuss this issue as it is something too often not unpacked, or examined enough to make all different kinds of men feel like they belong and start to reverse toxic attitudes around gender and beauty.

    My experience:

    For me I have always rejected traditional masculine ideals (be they the rugged or the dapper) but fallen for a more modern fashion aesthetic hard. This has come with beauty standards that are still warped but

    I think my love of fashion came in part with a desire to be beautiful, and I always looked at wafish western men or athletic/skinny Japanese men as my style icons as they seemed to be the ones to look really great in clothes and have the coat hanger physique for fabric to drape beautifully.

    My own phisque is slightly chubby, with wide hips and narrow shoulders. I work out but will never have this body type, and cannot be forced to choose between my loves of fashion and food. I also have acne scars of which I am self concious.

    Fashion has helped me feel good about myself, as I can shape features in ways that I find flattering and confident, but it also causes anxiety as I put on straight cut jeans that are not wide enough for my thighs, or try to wear drapey clothing only for it to bunch at on my hips.

    I also find myself judgemental or jealous of others with non ideal/ ideal bodies respectively as well as how ‘stylish’ they are. This applies to both my perception of men, women and gender nonconforming people. It is not something I am proud of, am working to overcome, and likely comes from my own insecurities as many prejudices do.

    One strange aspect is I feel a distain for the rugged, blokey Australiana/ Americana ideal of masculinity but love workwear as an abstracted fashion movement. It feels to celebrate the working class of yore without necessarily being too bogged down in masculinity I guess?

    Anyway, I’d love to hear your story and start a discussion on what fashion and beauty standards mean to you.



    I’m at a university that has a top athletics program so I’m surrounded by men and women who have the bodies of Greek gods and goddesses. Literally, I’ve been to the gym where the dudes muscles could’ve been chiseled marble on display in Athens. To me, that is the most attractive form to me, not because of conventional beauty standards, but because the effort it takes to look like that, how these people have taken the time to become the pinnacle of the human physique. Because I find that kind of rippling power awesome it’s the kind of body I strive for as well. I subscribe those same beliefs for women.

    I like that we are finding more and more people beautiful and breaking free from societal constraints (shout-out to the big thigh gang and L O N G B O I gang). I love that we are starting to appreciate everyone for who they are rather than how they look. However, I think there is a deeply biological reason people find fitness attractive; it’s a very primal thing to like.

    That belief is reflected in my style because I have very broad shoulders and a wide chest but a skinny waist. I’m also very short. I like to emphasize strength and take away from my height with pants that are slimmer, as well as jackets that are slim and cropped. I’ve been trying to branch out with the loose fits but I just don’t find it flattering with my body shape.



    One thing that I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten more into this subreddit is that I really do care about my appearance. A lot. It seems a lot of men don’t, and that makes perfect sense. Fathers don’t teach their sons to wear well-fitting clothes, how to buy oxfords, what ties look best on a given occasion (at least, mine didn’t).

    But I want to look good, I want to look cute, I want to look pretty as fuck dammit. Jewelry, hair products, all that shit. I want my ass to be thick. I want my arms to be huge. I want my abs to be lean as shit.

    I, most of all, want to be seen as a sexual being, one that people look at and go “nice.” And this sub helped me to realize that, so thanks fam.



    I’ve always avoided superficial things, but… between dating troubles and the need for professionalism, I figured I should make sure I’m dressing well. I came here looking for basic advice and kind of… fell into it. I don’t think I’m good-looking or even especially well-dressed, I just have a giant mass of superficial information hiding in my head.



    M A S S I V E thigh posse signing in. Always been jealous of the majority of the male population who got them narrow straight legs, and therefore can pull off many styles and looks that i can’t.

    Additionally, I also need to work out and gain much more muscle in the upper body to achieve some symmetry, whereas they can stay slim and look good. It sucks, but what else can you but deal with the hand that you have been dealt.



    Gonna answer each question in the order that they were asked:

    • Traditional beauty standards tend to subscribe almost wholeheartedly to a Eurocentric line of thinking, so not really. Aside from being 6’0, I’m chubby, black, and not athletic so 🤷🏾‍♂️

    • Umm probably being fit, confidence, good skin, dressed well, maintained hygiene, trimmed nails, etc.

    • yeah pretty much

    What’s toxic to me is if you’re black or brown, you’re usually held to the standard of whoever is hottest out of your ethnicity (See: Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Idris Elba, etc.). Kinda dumb lol.



    >Do you subscribe to traditional views about male beauty or reject them? How does this manifest in your style?

    Back home, in Montreal, for some part of the population I am considered too pale, lanky, and not hairy enough. For them the the gritty, bigger types tend to be favored. Thankfully the area got a good hispter population so my body type, as long as I am stylish, isn’tstruggling as much as it could. I also try to dress in a menswear with a touch of fun, I try to have one piece that stand out for its color or patterns (such as like lemurs, flamingos, bycicles), since I definitely doesn’t fit the streetwear vibe. Where I currently am, Seoul (I also studied in China before), my skinnyness and paleness is considered really attractive. Living over here affected some of my purchase decisions, while I don’t dress like Koreans, there’s sometimes a certain vibe in some of my outfits.

    I mostly improved my fashion when I moved abroad for studies, I improved a lot during my undergrad, but I would wear most of what I had back then. While there’s people that dress well back home, there’s as many, or more that are horribly dressed. I like that in both areas, I am able to dress in ways that makes me stand out, without being weird looking.

    >What are male beauty standards to you?

    I think that my male beauty standards is having a rather average body type, skinny to “Hollywood muscular” but not overly trained that it looks like you spent your days at the gym and eating chicken breast protein shakes. Also, since I spent a lot of time in Asia, the level where I consider people to be fat is rather low compared to the West, going back during breaks is shocking to me now. Fashion-wise, it involve wearing a style that fits your personality and interests; I wouldn’t wear streetwear, but my larger American friend who is really into hiphop can pull it off.
    I admire more the intellectual-fancy looking types, which is something I aspire to be one to some extent, really looking forward having money to spend toward the “I go to art museum, know some jazz, and have a small wine collection. But I am not a snob, I can be fun too.” aesthetic type.

    >Are your views about male and female beauty consistent?

    My type seems to be similar to how I see myself, I prefer similar body types as mine (tall and slim). I prefer fashion styles that aren’t far from mine, I probably will never end up dating a woman in streetwear. I have a few steps skincare routine, and at some point had BB cream for men (RIP BB cream product that was perfectly matching my skintone, which I am not finding anymore); while I will never push future girlfriends/wife to wear makeup, I do think that men could step up a bit from using all-in-one soap, or washing their faces with the sink/shower’s ivory soap bar.



    I initially became interested in fashion because I could communicate the type of person I was through clothing, then over time I became interested in it as an art.

    Beauty standards don’t enter into the way I dress. I don’t have any desire to look beautiful in a conventional way. I reject and am critical of contemporary male beauty standards because I think they reinforce and reference a lot of negative aspects of our culture. I see the root of contemporary beauty standards as absolute power (which itself came from prowess in war and ability to kill) that men are expected to embody at all times and any deviation from that is considered very negative. Visually this manifests in big muscles, beards (at least presently), and clothes that show that (but not too overtly).

    Because of that I’m not a fan of styles that reference traditional masculinity. I don’t like Americana or #menswear or the MFA uniform because they all conform to contemporary masculinity in some way. I dislike heavily padded suits in general for that reason (although I like some from an architectural standpoint). Generally I favour more androgynous styles in both menswear and womenswear. This tends to be a lot of volume and drape that obscur the difference between the ideal male and female form. Voluminous tops hide both wide shoulders (male) and big bosoms (female).

    That said, it’s hypocritical of me to say I reject male beauty standards when I work out 5+ days a week and have a physique that fits squarely into those standards. I’ve convinced myself I do it because I enjoy it, but it’s unlikely I would if the beauty ideal were, say, a sumo wrestler. I’m also aware that fitting into that ideal goes a long way toward me being able to wear the weird stuff I do (goth ninja) and get compliments from strangers instead of uncomfortable stares and people clutching their belongings when I get close. I admit it’s unsavory to say I reject something when I benefit from it every day and I very much enjoy those benefits. It’s like a billionaire saying the rich should be taxed more heavily while maintaining all their wealth in shell companies.

    As far as my personal beauty ideal goes, it’s definitely androgyny. I can’t explain it very well, but because I dislike the contemporary male beauty ideal – and the female one they’re two sides of the same coin afterall), I like anything that blurs those lines.



    Well all the research in the world will tell you that ultimately it comes down to facial symmetry/proportions and perceived fecundity (ability to reproduce). These are deeply engrained, cross cultural instincts that play a huge role in how people interpret beauty and attractiveness.

    For men, important markers of beauty include prominent brow, defined jaw, high forehead, and an overall V body shape. A more lean and toned build (rather than muscular, thin, or round) is seen as optimal. Also, a clear complexion between bronze and olive with slightly darker hair is typically preferred in Western cultures (think classical depictions of David, Greek Youth, and even actors famous for their looks—James Dean, Cary Grant, Brando, Clooney, Stamos, DiCaprio, the list goes on and current trends do have an impact on this, but over time, one sees a clear trend.)

    Once you have those foundational attributes, it’s all in how you frame it/present it with clothing, facial hair, style, grace, elegance, confidence, etc—things that are based on trends and social cues. This is an oversimplification but just be aware that there’s in essence universally accepted markers of beauty that are then impacted by social constructs.



    Thanks for making this thread – it’s a really interesting topic.

    I’m trans, and that’s definitely affected how I think about this. Over the past year or so, I’ve become more aware of how I actually look (realized that I’m short now, for example), and what’s possible for me.

    I didn’t initially want to get muscular, but after learning more about how building muscle works, and experiencing being the weakest guy in the group a few times, now I really want to get stronger. I feel like I’m literally not pulling my weight when my husband has to do the heavy lifting that I can’t physically do. Its not even about feeling less masculine, it’s about feeling like I need to make an efffort to be physically capable because I’m a man. This is more about masculinity than male beauty, but I think the two are connected for a lot of people.

    It’s also about what my body is capable of. I’m always going to be a bit short and have wide hips, so looking slender isn’t going to happen. Short and stocky seems a lot more achievable. I used to worry that if I got strong I’d look way more rugged and wouldn’t recognize myself, but now I know my metabolism probably won’t let me get below a certain body fat percentage, so that’s unlikely to happen.

    In terms of asthetics, lately I’m really drawn to midcentury stuff. Some photos from that period look masculine in a very effortless sort of way – like, this guy is wearing jeans and a plain t shirt because it’s convenient, or a well fitted suit because it’s the dress code, and the look is clearly very masculine but it’s just a side effect (as opposed to going full lumberjack).

    I’m not really sure what body types I asthetically like, on other people. I haven’t thought a lot about it? And there are many different ways to look good.



    So I’m originally from California and moved to DC for work, so my beauty sense for both men and women is sort of a combination of those. Traditional beauty standards are absolutely there for me, and I subject myself to that and am 100% willing to dedicate large swathes of my time to obtaining that to the best I am capable (I’m 5’7″ so I’ll never be traditionally attractive, but I do my best). But sort of the DC influence is that I find presence is key to pulling it off and as such I find it very attractive. Everyone can have presence, and everyone has their own way of creating it. Some people find presence by walking into a room with work boots, a jacket, and a face that has seen more hard days than most people have seen good ones. Others find presence in an expertly tailored suit or a little black dress they know they look damn good in. It’s different for every person, but I also think it’s one of the key aspects of being attractive.



    I think male beauty standards are kind of rigid, at least, if I look at it from an aggregate of how most people aside from myself would define the standards.

    I understand that most people would find muscular physiques on men to be the most aesthetically pleasing (and for the most part, the opposite for women.) The same applies to me–I find this to be ideal, and I prescribe to that ideal, but I deviate from it in some significant ways.

    I’m short, have a skinny frame with some muscle (thank you, powerlifting), long silver hair, and I wear a lot of clothes with a lot of drape or unusual silhouettes (e.g. RO).

    Some of these would not be in accordance with male beauty standards in general.

    My goal with personal style is to have it align with my personality and self-image, but to also deviate from it in specific, and interesting ways. I think it should both be a reflection of who I am, and who I am is also defined by who I want to be, and who I’m becoming.



    >Do you subscribe to traditional views about male beauty or reject them? How does this manifest in your style?

    I have no option but to reject them considering the physique I was given. I was given a skinny figure with little muscle, narrow shoulders, babyface and no beard (yet, am 24), but not the kind you imagine – for some reason, I have close to zero body fat on my hands and legs, but I can’t seem to get rid of my belly and small love handles. That said, I have only been going to the gym for three months, we will see in a year. However, I realize I will never be able to look like the greek god type of male – but I don’t mind. I also like the sleek/skinny bodytype more than the typical wide male figure. I don’t think I’m ugly, bad looking or anything like that. I have tried the r/rateme subreddit and asked many females and males what do they think of my attractiveness (even used Tinder for a while just to see who I match up with), and I have been consistently getting 7-8s. This is not me trying to brag, but just to make it clear I am perceived as good looking (though not handsome), despite being close to the opposite of the male archetype. Unfortunately, I have crippling self image issues :(. Probably because I am not attractive in the typical way.

    >What are male beauty standards to you?

    As many have said, muscular, wide, hairy on the chest, with a beard and long hair. Kind of like Chris Hemsworth. I think the emphasis is on the physique like with women and honestly, clothing is not *that* important. I think the male archetype is however very wide at the moment and even men with slimmer frame are considered beautiful. Beauty does not imply attraction though – I believe one can be called beautiful, but another man with more masculine features may be preferred. From a few talks I had with women, some can appreciate really beautiful men who do modeling for example (skinny, large jawline, etc.), but they will say that they’re not attracted to them. As if women were the beauty standard of humanity and men that looked like women were called beautiful – that’s how I feel with the men that you see on runways.

    > Are your views about male and female beauty consistent?

    I don’t think I understand fully, but I like to think that yes, they are.



    I don’t have a perfect body. I’m in decent shape, but I carry most of my weight in my mid section. My gym gains are mostly located in my legs. I have a youthful face, the semblance of a double chin and my beard doesn’t grow quite as epic as some others.

    On the other hand, I’m not ugly by any standard.

    My interst in fashion is related to my desire to present myself in an embettered version. There are plenty of things I don’t wear because I don’t like how they make me look. I’m fine with that.

    I do believe, however, that there is more to male beauty than having a v shape torso. Much like some men prefer different body types in women, I believe that any body type can look better when dressed with care.

    None of my personal style icons have ideal bodies. Michael Hill (of Drake’s), Ethan Newton (of Bryceland’s), and G Bruce Boyer (Author and fashion editor) are great examples of men looking incredible while not being anywhere as physically beautiful as George Clooney.

    That’s what I’m going for.

    Also, I’m married and off the market, so my efforts regardin beauty are not serving the purpose of finding a mate, whatever effect that has.



    The less we talk about beauty standards, the better. It’s unproductive. Better to spend that time exercising and cooking good food.



    I hear words like “beauty” and “handsomeness” and “incredibly chiseled features” and for me that’s like a vanity of self absorption that I try to steer clear of.



    > Do you subscribe to traditional views about male beauty or reject them?

    I subscribe to them completely. i think implying rejection is a valid path just gives guys the wrong idea. unless the guy is gay or something.

    > How does this manifest in your style?

    i cannot really create what isn’t there so i just pick clothes i find fun or original. maybe i even try to wear original stuff to compensate to an extent. i did try to hide my physique by wearing wider clothes when i was fat. now that I’m normal i try to wear slimmer clothes which emphasize my figure more.

    > What are male beauty standards to you?

    it’s basically when you see it you know it. fairly muscular built, low bodyfat, squarish face

    > Are your views about male and female beauty consistent?

    no. i think muscular women look hideous.

    I’m sorry to be so harsh but in my view the truth matters and it isn’t all a matter of taste.

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