It's easy to believe that women are the only people who have eating disorders and body image issues. But, men are just as susceptible to explicit and implicit messages about their bodies as women. Making someone feel badly about their body has a lot to do with insecurity, especially around loss of power and control. While there are social and political structures in place that give male power more currency, men are just as susceptible as women to being manipulated by toxic messages about their bodies and their power.
My colleague Lily Sloane, MFT has an excellent podcast called "A Therapist Walks Into A Bar." Her episodes about relationships, racism, sex, and addiction are helping to demystify therapy, and expanding the conversation about why we do what we do. In her most recent episode, "Beneath The Dome," Lily explores the culture of shame around male balding. She kindly asked me to contribute my opinion about loss. Yes, I was stoked. (Listen here on Soundcloud)
Our culture and upbringing can fill us with messages that are detrimental to our own capacity to live in spite of our impending death. We want to postpone, avoid, and deny feelings because we're afraid they're too painful and we won't survive the experience of feeling them. But emotions only become harder to bear the longer you postpone them.
Of course, altering your appearance if you want to can be fun and exciting, and you can have all kinds of primary and secondary benefits from doing so. If you want hair transplant surgery, breast implants or removal, tattoos, piercings, whatever– it's your body, forever and always. You get to make the choices you want to about whatever body mods you want.
Knowing what you want is dependent on using your intuition, your senses, and your thinking. It is also important to embrace reality: The reality of your feelings, your situation, and how to get from where you are to where you want to be. It's okay (and necessary) to get to know yourself, even those feelings that seem like you won't be able to feel. That way, you actually get to consent to your own choices, and make decisions that truly take your full self into account.