MGU 220 | Male Body Dysmorphia

You don’t get to talk about male body dysmorphia. It’s not that it doesn’t exist or that men experience body shame any less than women do. It’s just that men are culturally conditioned to just keep their problems to themselves and “be a man” about them. And yet men are subjected to more or less the same amount of negative body messaging from the media. If someone like Leonardo DiCaprio or Zach Efron can be thrown under the bus for not looking “ripped,” can you imagine how many ordinary men around the world are secretly hating how they look, being unkind to themselves, and not talking about it? Breaking the unspoken (and frankly speaking, unjustified) taboo on the topic, Jason Wrobel talks about his own experience with weight gain and other changes in his body as he ages. Whitney Lauritsen chimes in with her insights as well, connecting the male experience to the general human experience of body shame regardless of gender. On a lighter note, don’t Americans just love their burritos? Jason and Whitney compare notes on their experiences with this classic Mexican treat as well!

Listen to the podcast here:


Male Body Dysmorphia: Whose Business Are You In?

Jason has a subject matter for this episode that’s a little on the heavy side. It should be interesting but I wanted to start off this episode with something a little bit lighter that was a combination of me being amused and intrigued by. This PR agency has been sending me these emails from this data company called TOP. I was fascinated with why this felt like PR-worthy news. They sent me this whole email about the percentage of Americans who eat burritos and all these statistics about burritos. National Burrito Day was at the beginning of April. I don’t know why I got the email several weeks later.

I was fascinated that 36% of Americans are eating more burritos during COVID-19. I guess people are into burritos. I don’t know where this data came from exactly, but they’re saying that 53% of people that they surveyed would choose an awesome burrito over a romantic date. That’s how into burritos people are. They broke it down into burrito-loving states. It makes sense that citizens of New Mexico have the biggest taste for the dish followed by Colorado and Oregon. Those in Delaware are the least enthusiastic about the Mexican dish followed by Alabama and Kentucky. I wonder, do they have less access? When I was growing up in Massachusetts, Mexican food was not that big of a deal. I remember one place in Boston when I was in college, but I didn’t have a craving for Mexican food.

When I moved to Southern California, that shifted because there’s a lot of Mexican food here that is very good, and of course, Texas. You can see more survey insights on their website if you too are intrigued by burritos statistics. Five interesting insights, 56% of Americans like queso in their burrito and I wonder if that includes people like me who like vegan queso, which is now slowly becoming an option at some places. Ninety percent of Gen Xers eat a burrito once a week, and 56% of Americans say a burrito has saved them from a brutal hangover. Forty-seven percent of Americans would give up their favorite shirt for the world’s best burrito. I didn’t realize how into burritos people are.

What’s also fascinating about burritos is that a lot of different cultures have their version. In Japanese cuisine, they’ll have the sushi rolled up. I suppose the Italians with the calzone, that’s burritolike. Maybe you can make some more culinary comparisons, Jason, but it seems like rolling things up in bread like a falafel, that’s burrito-like. A lot of different cultures have their version of burritos. There’s something that we love about having a carb-heavy dish that you can hold in your hand that’s convenient, filling, flavorful and has a lot going for it, with maybe lots of nutrients. It’s very comforting.

I’m curious, Jason, are you into burritos? Can you relate to this at all? Where’s the best burrito you’ve ever had? I’m trying to think about this myself. I believe that we are very fortunate to have a good number of vegan Mexican restaurants. There are so many that are opening now. Jason, I don’t know if you know about this, but the people behind Veggie Grill opened their own Mexican vegan restaurant. In Southern California, we have a lot of choices, a lot of taco stands. I don’t know if all of them have burritos as options though.

I do want to give a shout-out, the place that I find the easiest to meet my nutritional desires is Tocaya Organica. I don’t know if it’s only in Southern California, but in Los Angeles, they have a lot of locations. What I enjoy about them is they have a ton of vegan options and they even have low-carb options. I think they have cauliflower rice, but they have grain-free tortillas. I think they’re from Siete. They make phenomenal but extremely expensive burritos. On average, a legit grain-free vegan, gluten-free as well, burrito there is $17, which is insane to me. That’s with queso, vegan meat, and maybe some guacamole and it’s fully loaded, but it’s $17. That’s the place that comes to mind for me, Jason. What about you? What’s the best burrito you’ve ever had in your life if you have any fond memories of them and where are you on this burrito-loving scale?

I’ve been craving a burrito. I have not gone to get one, but the two places that I have been craving a burrito, Tocaya was number one. Those burritos are the fucking bomb. They’re so good. I also want to mention that in terms of inflation, we had a whole episode about financial gaslighting. In that episode, I mentioned an article referencing that the price of food, goods, housing, cars and gas has gone up exponentially over the past twenty years, where wages have been pretty much a straight line.

MGU 220 | Male Body Dysmorphia

Male Body Dysmorphia: Men and women are subjected to equal amounts of dysmorphic messaging of, “You’re not attractive, you’re not worthy of love if you don’t look this way.”

 

However, I want to say that the cost of an organic, healthy, plant-based burrito has stayed flat because I remember coming to LA in the year 2000 and getting an OG burrito from Real Food Daily, and back then a loaded burrito, mole, cashew cheese, the whole shot was about $17, $18. I want to go on record saying that first of all, that’s in no world or any universe is that cheap for a burrito. I want to go on record saying that. That’s not an accessible price for a burrito. However, for the echelon of burrito you’re describing, it stayed pretty flat and it has not been prone to inflation. I want to go on record and say, that’s pretty cool.

This triggered a memory for me. I used to be into burritos and similar to another episode we did talking about Demi Lovato and this ice cream shop, The Bigg Chill. Across the street from The Bigg Chill in Los Angeles is a chain restaurant, Poquito Mas. It’s this restaurant I became obsessed with when I moved to Los Angeles. I was in my last semester of college when I moved here and there was one down the street. It might’ve been the original Poquito Mas. If I was no longer gluten-free, I’d be so excited. I haven’t looked at their menu in a long time. Maybe they have some gluten-free options. They probably have bowls, I imagine but I used to go there and get their burritos. The other place that Jason used to laugh at, because I remember you making fun of me because I would point out random Mexican stands throughout town. I completely forgot how into all of this I was before.

It’s funny to me because over the years that Whitney and I have known each other, we would be out driving through LA and she’d be like, “Guadalupe’s taco stand. That’s the best flautas I’ve ever had.” There would be these random trucks or pop-ups that Whitney would point out in random parts of the city and be like, “They’ve got good Chilaquiles.” I’d be like, “You ate there too?” Whitney would share the travails of her food tour in places I would have never thought to stop. Whitney, you’re the queen of random food finds in LA. I want to give you credit for that. I laugh because it’s been a minute since we’ve been in a car touring around LA because of this acid trip we’re living in but nonetheless, you’re the queen of that and it makes me laugh.

The thing that’s making me laugh too is that I couldn’t remember any of the names of these places, but I remember exactly where they are. The other one that I was thinking of is called Cactus Taqueria and they might still be there. They have two locations on the same street in Los Angeles. It’s on Vine Street, which is a pretty big street that leads into Hollywood. They have this tiny little taco stand that I used to go to when I was working at this television production place. I used to go there. They were open late and they had phenomenal inexpensive burritos. That’s what made me think of them. They’re probably $6, which is much more reasonable.

They became so popular. They opened up another location on the same street but like a fancier location. I think they have a few others. There were little places like this that I would go to, especially when I didn’t have a lot of money and I could get an amazing meal. This is probably why people love burritos because they’re so filling. In some places, you can get a good burrito for $5. I don’t know how much they charge at Chipotle these days, but it’s under $10. Chipotle now has cauliflower rice. I’ve been thinking about going to try it. I’m curious.

It’s neat that they’re offering these things. Even though some people get very offended by the term cauliflower rice. They’re like, “It’s not rice,” but I am a big fan of inclusive words. It’s the same way that people get upset when they call it vegan chicken and they’re like, “It’s not chicken. How dare you call it chicken?” The reason it’s called vegan chicken is because we’re trying to be inclusive of people that are making different dietary choices. Most of us know the texture and the taste of chicken even if we’re vegetarian or vegan. It’s like, “I know what that’s going to be like.” Cauliflower rice does not taste or have the same texture as rice I will say, but it mimics the experience pretty well. That’s why I’m grateful for it.

I want to say that if you are a human being who is writing petitions and rallying on social media against the use of the word milk, rice, chicken, cheese, meat, beef, etc. and trying to prevent plant-based products from using those words, you may want to consider how you’re focusing your energy in the world if that’s your cause. You may want to reconsider. Maybe you need something better to do with your life. I don’t know. I wanted to give a shout-out to two small independent businesses in LA. For any Angelenos or anyone who may travel to LA in the future. Two small businesses with incredible burritos. One is a place called Jewel. It is in Hoover Hollow, which is a tiny little section adjacent to Silver Lake. The two owners, Jasmine and Sharky are amazing. It’s an LGBTQ-run business. Their food is incredible, incredible pizzas and flatbreads. Their macro food and burgers, their breakfast burrito, in particular, is sublime. Shout out to Jewel, Jasmine and Sharky. We love you.

The other place co-owned by our dear friend, Brittany of whom I rescued Bella and Julius from her former animal rescue, Little Love Rescue is Sugar Taco, which has a location in Hollywood on Melrose and now one in Sherman Oaks on Ventura Boulevard, amazing burritos. Fully vegan, delicious and not as expensive as $17. Jewel’s breakfast burrito is maybe $10. Depending on how you spec the burrito from Sugar Taco, it’s probably around the same price. It’s not “cheap” but really good burritos. I’m trying to support as many small businesses as possible right now, because the economics right now being what they are and the fact that most of the PPP loans went to big corporations.

There's not a lot of cisgendered, white, heterosexual men talking about body dysmorphia. It’s not a topic of mainstream conversation. Click To Tweet

We don’t need any more Applebee’s in the world. We’re good on Chili’s and Outback Steakhouse. I’m trying to support as many small businesses as possible. You asked what my favorites are. They’re Tocaya, Jewel and Sugar Taco. Those are my top three in LA. This is probably a good segue into me talking about the “heavier topic” that I wanted to discuss. It’s funny that you called it a heavier topic because what I want to talk about is male body dysmorphia. I was unsure about how I wanted to talk about this or if I even wanted to talk about it because I feel like there’s a narrative in my head and I don’t know where this comes from. Maybe it’s from society. Maybe it’s from a lot of the socio-political things that are coming up.

I looked at my phone to make sure that it was on do not disturb and the message on my phone was a notification from Yelp regarding Sugar Taco.

Stop it. Are you serious?

I haven’t been to Sugar Taco in months. I don’t think that Yelp is listening to me. I think it’s truly a coincidence because I do get these notifications fairly often and now, I’m not able to find it. It was a Sugar Taco notification from Yelp. I’m just saying that’s weird.

That’s a trip. That’s is bizarre. You didn’t even mention the word Sugar Taco. I said it.

I have my headphones on so my phone wouldn’t have been able to hear it unless it’s somehow weirdly connected to this microphone, which would not be surprising. It’s so weird. It’s one of those things when you click on a notification and then it opens up the app and you can no longer find the notification.

All the negative sort of emotionally blunting messages we get, but I wanted to bring it up because it’s something that I’ve been experiencing at a higher rate since my motorcycle accident back in November of 2020. As a result of not being able to move very well for about a month to a month and a half, I ended up gaining some weight and I have not lost that weight. I bring this up for two reasons. Number one, there have been a lot of moments where I have looked at myself in the mirror and have been unkind to myself. I’m picking my body apart in ways that have made me feel not good about myself like hating the way that I look. I bring this up because I think that male body dysmorphia or men feeling ashamed of how they look or feeling not attractive because of the way they look isn’t something that’s a mainstream conversation.

I found myself over the course of this recovery period from going to PT for about five months of having a challenging relationship with my body in recovery. There’s a part of me that’s like, “You gained weight because you were immobilized. You couldn’t get out of bed by yourself. You couldn’t move all that well.” It’s given me an opportunity to look at how my physical appearance was, whether that’s my weight, my physical appearance or some of the hair loss issues I’ve been going through, how that affects my perception of my value in the world, my desirability, attractiveness and worth as a man.

In that sense, it’s been a gift. The one side of this though that’s flipping the conversation on its head is I was having a discussion with my mom about this. It’s weird to have a conversation with my mom about how I perceive that I look and my weight gain and all that. I was trying on some shirts and pants and realized that there’s a significant portion of my wardrobe that doesn’t fit anymore. It’s been this consideration of my mom was like, “Why don’t you keep it? Maybe you’ll lose weight again. You can fit into it.” At that moment, I said, “I don’t want to lose the weight.” It was an interesting moment of observation to see her propose that and then I say to her that I don’t want to lose the weight.

MGU 220 | Male Body Dysmorphia

Beyond Beautiful: A Practical Guide to Being Happy, Confident, and You in a Looks-Obsessed World

It was cool to pause at that moment and examine that statement that came out of my mouth. It was one of the first moments in months where I’m becoming okay with where I’m at right now. Not wishing I was different, that I weighed less, that I looked different, whatever the hell it is. Part of it is aging but part of it is maybe I don’t give a shit. Maybe I’m starting to get to a point where I’m sick of beating myself up for some bizarre standard from Men’s Health magazine and having a six-pack, being ripped and all this bullshit. Men and women are subjected to equal amounts of dysmorphic messaging of, “You’re not attractive, you’re not worthy of love if you don’t look this way.” I’m saying all this because, after the show, I’m going to spend part of the afternoon going through my entire wardrobe, the whole thing. Do you know what I’m looking forward to? It’s getting rid of a shit ton of clothes because they don’t fit and I don’t care about them fitting. I don’t want to lose the 15 pounds and fit back. I just want to be where I’m at.

I say all this because I want to bring more awareness as a man, how much I’ve beaten myself up and been unkind to myself over how I look or how much I weigh, etc. This opportunity of having this accident has given me a chance to take a deeper look at that inside of myself. It was cool that in this conversation with my mom about the weight I’ve gained to be like, “If I have to get rid of all my jeans, I don’t care. I’m also excited about it.” I bring this up because I was strangely nervous to talk about it. Maybe because I perceived people would be like, “Jason is complaining about something that doesn’t matter. He gained 15 pounds, who cares?” It’s more of the spiritual side of this for me where I’ve had to look at how unkind I can be to myself. I’m getting to a point of acceptance where I’m actually okay with the weight I’m at and how I look. I’m going to go through my entire wardrobe and probably get rid of a ton of clothes and I’m super stoked about it.

It’s an incredibly important thing to hear from someone who identifies as male about the subject matter because to your point, I don’t think enough do. It’s very common to hear women talk about this, but it makes me wonder how much the media is involved with this and all of the cultural impacts because I’m sure many men, if not most men, can relate to what you’re talking about, Jason. They might not feel like they can publicly discuss this. To your point, it might seem like a superficial thing, but it’s something that as a person who identifies as a woman, that’s part of my daily experience. It seems incredibly common. I don’t know the statistics right off hand, but I believe that the majority of people that identify as women are in that same mindset.

I wonder if somebody who is transgender, someone who is identifying as a woman or people who are going through that transition, maybe they don’t experience it quite to the extent because they feel so grateful to be able to present as a woman. Maybe it’s not as big of a deal, but at the same time, once you look like a woman, even if you didn’t originally to society’s standards, there’s still a lot of pressure. Maybe it’s even worse. Maybe people that are transgender struggle with their appearance because they want to fit into a lot of these norms. I finished reading a book called Beyond Beautiful that dives into this. One book that I also love is called Beauty Sick. They’re both my favorite resources so far on the subject matter because they get into the statistical and psychological experiences that people have and frame them in some unique ways. They’re both targeted towards women, but Beyond Beautiful touches upon very briefly, only a few paragraphs in that book, the experience that men or people that identify as men go through.

That makes me wonder, “Why isn’t that represented more?” Maybe it is, maybe there are more books on this subject matter that I haven’t come across yet, or people talking about it. Certainly, most men I know and dated have struggled with their body image. The number of things I’ve heard over the years, I remember my first serious boyfriend said to me once how bad he felt that he hadn’t worked out for a week. I said, “I can’t tell the differences.” He said, “I can.” He went on this whole rant about how he felt bad about himself because he wasn’t working out consistently. Women often have that experience as well. I’ve seen men that I’ve dated go through ups and downs with their weights and times where they feel good about it.

It’s interesting because it doesn’t feel like culturally, they have quite as much pressure, but maybe that’s from my perspective because I’m so focused on all the pressure that women tend to receive on this. When I read that book, Beauty Sick, it had me reflecting on how much energy any gender is putting on themselves for their appearance, and how many of us believe that our worth is tied to our appearance. There are some great quotes from the part of the book that I was reading and how often we feel like our power is in our appearance.

This is also true. You’re bringing up age and age is a big challenge too. Granted, statistically, men tend to struggle less with becoming older in terms of the appearance of getting older. In our culture, at least, older men are often seen as handsome. We have terms like daddy and we have the silver fox. We have a lot of positive phrases and terminology around older men. Maybe that’s for older men that look a certain way. Is that true about all older men? I’m not sure. I think this issue of power is a big point of this and how many of us are afraid that if we “let ourselves go,” then we’ll lose our power. People will like us less. We’ll become less influential and less important, and that’s disturbing to me.

You can’t judge somebody for their body size. It’s their body. Who are you to say it’s not okay? Click To Tweet

Another term that I’ve seen thrown around a lot especially by Gen Z is, “My appearance is the least interesting part about me.” Gen Z is waking up to this and many of them are fighting for it but statistically, maybe that’s not true because it also seems that Gen Z is so concerned with their appearance and being influencers and all that. Gen Z are the people that I’m seeing talk a lot about their appearance being less important and they’re big advocates for body positivity. I see this with Millennials in general. I certainly am very passionate about this too.

There’s a movement shifting but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of time because it’s so deeply embedded in us. It hasn’t been that long. Through some of the data that I’ve seen, certainly, it goes back many years in history about how important our appearance is in terms of the clothes that we’re wearing and how we did our hair and whatnot. All of these things that people will use to show that they’re important, to represent their personality and put themselves in a certain class. We use this as that first impression. It’s nothing new from what I’ve read, but what’s new is how social media has impacted us and how much we compare ourselves to one another.

We are exposed to many more examples of beauty than ever before because we have television and we have devices. All day long, we can see the media portrayals of beauty in men and women. Also, there’s a lot of media centered around appearance. There’s a lot of TV shows and segments that are about outfits. There’s so much news around people losing weight and how they seem to be rewarded for their weight loss. I saw a blonde actress who’s a comedian. She was known for being a chubbier character on shows and she lost a significant amount of weight, now she’s getting in the news for that, “Look how much she lost weight.” Look at Adele, she was another example of the media making news out of her weight loss.

I remember specifically with Adele, people were saying, “Weight loss is not news. This woman is an incredibly talented singer. Why is she in the news for how much weight she lost.” Imagine the pressure that she may feel right now. You’ve seen a lot of singers go through these waves, even Kelly Clarkson. She used to be a very small frame, gained a lot of weight and the media wanted to put a lot of attention on there. A lot of women in the media, their weight changes over time. I’m sure the same is true with men but I notice it a lot more with women.

I think the media emphasizes it so much with women. At the same time, I’m sure that you feel the pressure to maintain a certain weight even if it’s not associated with your gender. Regardless of who’s being represented in the media, would you say that in general, you feel like you should be rewarded for losing weight or being a certain size and ridiculed for gaining weight or being a heavier size? Is there some part of your brain that thinks that your weight means something good or bad about yourself?

I think so. It’s almost like a level of desirability is attached to being in an “ideal weight range,” whatever that is. I think it’s also an association that I am untangling of what is healthy. There’s some level of virtuousness around “being healthy” or being as healthy as I can be. With this idea of being a certain weight or looking a certain way, the dysmorphia is tied into self-worth. It’s like if your belly is hanging over your jeans, or you’re not as muscular or defined as you used to be, or you can’t see your abs anymore or whatever it is. It’s this thing in my brain where it’s like, “You’re not as healthy as you used to be. You’re not as vibrant as you used to be. You’re not as attractive as you used to be.”

It’s this level of virtuousness, and we talk about this word because I think it’s accurate, based on whatever level of health or wellness that I perceive that I’m at. This is probably a problematic aspect of the entire health and wellness industry. Overall, there is an unquestioned association in many people between being a certain weight or looking a certain way with your body. That automatically means you must be healthy. If you’re overweight or you’re obese or you don’t have the body type that is being celebrated by the mainstream media then automatically, you must not be a healthy person. It’s an automatic assumption. To answer your question, through this process of the weight gain that I’ve experienced after my surgery and my recovery is I’m looking at these unconscious associations that I’ve made. Using that as ammunition to beat myself up over “not being healthy enough” or not being as healthy as I used to be. It’s dangerous. I’m realizing that association or that automatic assumption is a very dangerous thing.

Let’s not forget that health is not just about your physical state. It’s about your emotional wellness as well. That is the most important thing. If your emotional wellness is not good and you’re only focused on the physical side of your body, then it doesn’t matter how “healthy” your physical body is, you could be deeply suffering. That’s something that we need to be very mindful of when we judge other people for their appearance. We don’t know what their emotional state is. We don’t even know if they want to lose weight.

I was thinking about this because I was examining my own belief systems around health and body size. I remember a conversation I have with your mom that got heated because Joe Rogan was talking about this one woman who’s a body positivity advocate. She’s a model and she’s got a very large figure. She was on the cover of a magazine and Joe Rogan was heated up about it and so were a number of people. Joe’s big point was a big judgment around health. Is this a bad example? His judgments around being obese, I realized I had as well.

MGU 220 | Male Body Dysmorphia

Male Body Dysmorphia: There is an unquestioned association in many people between being a certain weight or looking a certain way and being healthy.

 

I remember saying something about this to your mom when she was in town visiting, and she got upset and deeply angry with me. At the time, I don’t think I had a strong opinion about it. I was just reflecting about it out loud, but it certainly with me wondering about what this woman was representing being on the cover of a magazine at her size. It was this weird feeling of it’s not that she doesn’t deserve to be on it because of her size. It’s hard for me to relate to because now I don’t feel that way anymore. My awareness has shifted so much in my judgments of people’s body size. Back then, I thought that that was dangerous.

I thought similar to Joe Rogan like, “We can’t encourage women. We can’t tell them it’s okay to let themselves go or whatever.” It was like all those weird things that I believed because so many people in my life were saying those things. Being in this health and wellness world, I got so caught up in it. I’m not trying to make an excuse for myself but that’s where my thought process developed, where I too was very judgmental. If you have gained weight or if you’re a larger figure, you must not be trying hard enough, or you must not be eating right. Maybe you have a deep health condition that you’re not addressing.

It was looking at bodies and assuming that those represent somebody’s health. Shortly after that, I started reading about the anti-diet movement and intuitive eating. It shifted my entire perception because there’s a lot of data. There’s even data that shows that some people with larger bodies are technically healthier, which blew my mind. I can try to find some of the statistics, but it was ultimately that we just cannot judge somebody for their body size. That is their body. That is maybe their choice or maybe the way that they are. We don’t know what they’ve done, what they’ve tried. We don’t know what they want. Who are we to say that that’s not okay?

It’s incredibly important for us to see people in different sizes because I also believe that statistically, women under size four, the general size for clothing, maybe between 0 to size 4, those are the women that are represented in the media, in magazines and television shows. We’ve got Victoria’s Secret body. I don’t know what size of clothing that is, but we’ve got these majority of women and probably also the majority of white women being represented in the media. Maybe it seems incredibly extreme to see someone much larger than them on a magazine cover and it’s shocking because we’re not used to it, but we need to see more of it.

We need to see representation all across the board. Also, not at the extremes. We need to see everything in between and that’s something I’ve been working on. I’m curious about you. Are you making a conscious effort to look at men who have body sizes similar to you and body sizes that are not in the mainstream? For me, the more I look at women that have all different body sizes, not only do I become more accepting of them, but I become more accepting of myself in less than a place of comparison because I’m recognizing there’s so much diversity in the way people look and the weight that they have on their body.

Which even plussize women, I did not realize this but apparently a photographer was quoted in one of these books saying that they will pick plussize women based on the proportions and the shapes of their bodies. They will even go as far as padding them to get certain curves. They will also put clothes on a certain way or Photoshop them with certain curves to their body to emphasize things like the hourglass figure. Even the plus-size women that we see out there don’t fully represent women that are around similar body size. It wasn’t until platforms like TikTok where I started to see all different size women talking about their bodies and pointing out things about their bodies that you never see in mainstream media.

One woman was showing how underneath her breasts, she has another set of rolls there. She’s like, “I’ve never seen another woman.” Some other woman made a video saying, “I have the same thing too. You’re not alone.” These women start to recognize they’re not alone. Women like me that don’t have that are seeing different bodies and hearing the stories about them and recognizing, “I am so grateful for people sharing this because I want to be exposed to all of that so I can open up my eyes and my heart to it.” Going back to you, Jason, do you make a conscious effort to expose yourself to different sized, shaped and aged men and all of that so that you can see the diversity in men and not just what’s being represented in the mainstream?

Honestly, I don’t think that I am. What flashes on my mind is remembering a few years ago, you’re mentioning celebrities and how they’re vilified for the way they look. I remember a couple of articles years back. Paparazzi pics of Leonardo DiCaprio on the beach and that started the whole dad bod thing. It was like, “Leo’s got a dad bod.” This whole dad bod thing came out and it was like, some people were like, “Dad bod? That’s gross.” Other people were like, “No, dad bod’s good.” It was this distraction tactic to get people arguing about someone’s body. The same thing happened when Jonah Hill lost a bunch of weight and then he gained the weight back and then they shit on him for that.

We have so many things that are more important than our bodies. It’s such a waste for us to spend all day being concerned about how we look. Click To Tweet

When Hugh Jackman was playing Wolverine, there are videos of him showing his workouts to get the Wolverine body, and then he stopped playing Wolverine. It’s always like a beach pic of like, “Look at what happened to Wolverine now.” Why do we have this expectation? They’re doing it for this role to get this image of this superhero body, and then they don’t play the superhero anymore, and then we throw them under the proverbial bus for not being this shredded, ripped, mutant physique. My point in saying that is I want to do a better job of exposing myself to a variety of different physiques and ages and a healthier perception of this. I realized, based on how much I beat myself up, that I have been manipulated into believing this way of looking, eating and living means attractiveness, vibrance, health and value in society.

It’s so deep, manipulative and toxic for anyone who identifies as a man or woman. By and large, women are subjugated in a more sinister and deep way than men are, but we’re all subjugated is my point. We’re all subject to a capitalist, corporate media pressure of, “Buy this thing, live this way, eat this way, wear these clothes, have this figure, get the hair plugs, get the breast implants.” There are so many permutations of this and it’s also toxic. At the core it’s, “You’re not enough the way you are and you need to be different to be more sexually attractive, to be more valuable to society, to attract a mate and to have kids.”

What does that come down to? Our desire for love and acceptance, “If I don’t look this way, if my body doesn’t look this way and I’m not muscular enough. My booty is not big enough and I don’t have the right clothes and the right car, etc. I won’t be desired. I won’t be loved. I won’t be accepted. I’ll be alone and I’ll feel like a piece of shit.” It’s preying on our most primal fears which I think are aloneness and lack of love. That’s a deep primal fear for most human beings, “I’m going to end up alone and no one’s going to love me.” That motivates a lot of our behavior in purchasing decisions in life if you think about it. The primal fear of ending up alone and not being lovable. That drives so much behavior.

The question is, if we do the hard work of authentically learning how to love and accept ourselves more, maybe we’ll stop chasing this stupid shit because it is stupid shit. At the end of the day, you’re making money for someone else. You’re driving yourself insane trying to achieve some standard because you think it will make you feel better, but why will it make you feel better? That’s the thing, “When I lose this weight, when I get muscular, when I get this body, I’ll feel better.” Why will you feel better? That’s the question. Why do you feel better about yourself when you look that way?

It’s an important question to ask. Is it that you finally attained the standard that society and media have placed for you and so you feel good because you’ve won the gold medal? Is that what’s in your mind? Men are supposed to be this “superhero”, Herculean, Greek God, with rippling muscles, you’re virile, sexual and you’re primal? At the same time, you’ll fuck everything that moves and you’ll be able to protect everything. For women, you’ll be desirable and you’ll be able to be this goddess of eros and sexuality. These are not new. If you go back in history, these standards are not relegated to modern society. These standards and these appearances go back a long time.

There’s a lot of great information in that book. To piggyback on what you said, Jason, one is you can ask yourself a universal body kindness question which is, “Is this helping to create a better life for myself?” If the answer is yes, then maybe go a level deeper. What exactly is it doing? Does it even matter? It depends on why you’re asking your questions. Are you asking like, “Should I eat this food?” Food can be a very emotional and challenging thing, but is the thought process that you’re thinking about your body helping you create a better life for yourself, or is it leading to you feeling worse about yourself?

That’s why I come back to the emotional health side of this. All of these thoughts that we have about our bodies and other people’s bodies are not necessarily a positive thing. They’re leading to a lot of toxic energy. They’re leading to depression, the comparison trap, anxiety, shame, guilt, all these low vibration emotions. Another thing that I read in the book Beyond Beautiful, which is so fantastic. I recommend every gender to read that book because it’s so informational. It’s so good to know what women are going through as well but most of it applies to men. It’s that if you can make a practice of looking in the mirror and identifying one thing you like and love about yourself, we have a tendency and a habit of looking at the mirror or a photo of ourselves and quickly go into what we perceive as our flaws.

That’s okay because that’s a big habit to overcome. Instead of or in addition to that then look at your body and try to find something that you love. It could be your eyes, hair, nose, it could be whatever. One little freckle on your body, just something that you love. If you have trouble finding it make it your mission to find it. If you’re having trouble that’s a big indication of where you’re at with your body and it is going to take some work. Another thing you can do is ask somebody who truly loves you. Hopefully, you have at least one of those people in your life. If not, Jason and I can be those people send us a picture of yourself and I guarantee we will immediately find something about you that we think is absolutely radiant and something that we are drawn to. This is what happens. Most of us as human beings can identify one of those things in another human being and sometimes, we need someone on the outside to point those things out if we’re not used to thinking that about ourselves.

MGU 220 | Male Body Dysmorphia

Male Body Dysmorphia: By and large, women are subjugated in a more sinister and deep way than men are, but we’re all subjugated a capitalist, corporate media pressure of looking a certain way.

 

Jason, you can try that. I’m going to start trying that as well and just soaking in because another thing that these books touch upon is how when we feel bad about our bodies it can ruin our day. It could bring us down. We can see a bad picture of ourselves. We can look in the mirror, step on the scale, and for the whole day feel awful about ourselves. That’s such a sad thing in my opinion because as it’s so well-articulated in the book Beauty Sick, we have so many things that are more important than our bodies. Our minds are so valuable. Each of us has some incredible element to ourselves at our core that is so much more important than how we look. If we spend all day being concerned about how we look, it is a bit of a waste.

I also remember the name of the model I want to mention is Tess Holliday. What’s interesting is looking at those magazine covers, the big one that was controversial is Cosmopolitan, but she’s also been on SELF magazine. I look at her now and think she’s absolutely beautiful. In the past, I looked at her and saw someone that was heavy but now I look at her and I think, “What a radiant human being.” Sometimes we need to work on our shifts and that’s something else you can do. When you look at someone else, if you feel judgmental, try to find something about them, hopefully even their personality but appearance-wise, you can also practice this. Identifying something in another person that you think is beautiful will help you move past the negative judgments that you can have about them. This is a great time to bring up Zac Efron. Maybe you can summarize what I sent you about Zac Efron. There’s a lot of news going around about Zac Efron. Do you want to share anything about that, Jason?

My impression of that is similar to the impression that I get whenever I see social media attacking someone for their appearance change. You have no idea why he looks the way that he does. “Did he have plastic surgery? Did he get cheek implants? Did he get fillers? Why? Is it because he had this bacterial infection from the show he was on being in the wilderness? Is it this? It goes back to the comment I made earlier about people taking up arms over almond milk or cashew cheese. Do you have nothing else to worry about in your life? I’m going to go there. I’m a big fan of Byron Katie. I quote her sometimes in the blog posts that we write for Wellevatr.com.

“There are three kinds of business in the world,” Byron Katie says this and I tend to agree. She says, “Whose business are you in? You’re either in my business, you’re in your business, or you’re in God’s, universe or spirit.” There are many people that are in other people’s business. Whenever that happens, my first thing is, what’s going on in your life? Why do you feel the need to comment on Zac Efron, Khloe Kardashian or Adele? Whoever it may be. It goes back to people’s obsession with gossip and talking about other people.

Whenever I get into my version of that mode like, “Did you hear what so and so said?” I’m like, “Whose business are you in? Are you in your business, their business, God’s business? Whose business are you in?” That’s a general framework I ask myself. With this Zac Efron thing, it’s like, “Let him live his life, people.” He’s a celebrity. He signed up for this. I see people say, “He signed up for it. You shouldn’t have chosen to be a celebrity if you didn’t want to subject yourself to such intense public scrutiny.” He’s a human being. Leave him alone. That’s my thought.

That’s important and maybe that represents a great example of how men, even young successful handsome men like Zac Efron, that he has the privilege but he shouldn’t be protected because of his privilege. That’s not my point. The point is that we live in a time where we’re simultaneously growing, more accepting, and yet growing even more critical of each other. It’s bizarre. There’s this one amazing girl on TikTok who does body positivity. She was in the comment section standing up for him and I loved it. Anytime people were in the comments of TikTok videos saying cruel things about Zac, she was there saying, “I can’t believe you guys are saying this. We got to treat him as a human being.”

All those things that you’re reiterating Jason. It’s important because when we put all that emphasis on somebody and say those cruel things to one another, it’s damaging. Imagine what younger boys are thinking that maybe they wouldn’t publicly admit that they look up to someone like Zac Efron, but maybe they see people making those comments on someone like him and think, “If Zac Efron’s getting bullied like this.” I’ve seen her stand up for women, but to see her standing up for men I thought was a beautiful thing because it goes both ways. It’s not acceptable for anybody to receive all that scrutiny. What can happen is if we see other people scrutinizing, then we think that’s acceptable. On platforms like TikTok, people love to get on the bandwagon and make fun of one another. It makes them feel good and that’s what I mean. On a platform that celebrates diversity and acceptance in a lot of ways, it still got a lot of bullying, cruelty, cancel culture and not enough accountability. Anytime, I see people holding one another accountable and spreading positivity, it is something I really value.

Speaking of things that we value, Jason. We wanted to share some foods and give some food love because I think this ties into body positivity, body kindness conversation. It is celebrating things that we enjoy and savor. I’m not even sure if you’re going to mention food, Jason. Our goal is to talk about some products that we love which were something that we haven’t done for a little while, but we had a discussion earlier like, “Let’s go back to giving some shout outs.” Mine is a food I don’t know about yours.

We live in a time where we're simultaneously growing more accepting and yet growing even more critical of each other. It's bizarre. Click To Tweet

Here’s one that I feel is kind to my body because not only do I feel like the ingredients make me feel good, but when I consume it, I emotionally feel elevated and uplifted and that is a brand called Culina. I have never received their products for free. This is not any sort of sponsored, I buy this myself, which is important for us to be transparent about. We will do our best to let you know when we’re talking about things that we got for free. We may use affiliate links. If you go to the resources section that we mentioned, you might click on something and maybe we make a commission of it. I don’t think that will be the case with Culina because they are refrigerated products so it’s hard to have an affiliate commission with them. They make my current favorite yogurt and this flavor in particular, have you had this, Jason? The strawberry rose. It is mind-blowing.

I have had all of their flavors.

I had the strawberry rose for the first time and I lost my mind over it. I’ve also had the unsweetened and the blueberry lavender. That one I was not that into. I saw strawberry rose at the grocery store and I thought, “You had me at a rose.” I’m a sucker for anything with rose in it. I had low expectations because a blueberry lavender was not that flavorful, at least not the batch I had. This strawberry rose was the perfect amount of rose and strawberry, perfectly sweet. They sweetened it with maple syrup and it’s got seven ingredients, coconut, water, strawberries, maple syrup, agar, probiotics and rose oil. I’ve already been thinking about how I could possibly make this myself because the one downside to Culina is it’s a little expensive for yogurt at least. It is five ounces and it is $4 at most stores that I’ve seen, but for the quality of ingredients, almost all of them are organic and it comes in the glass jar with a satisfying lid.

It’s the perfect size to reuse but I’m sure at a certain point if you buy this often enough, what are you going to do with all these jars? I don’t know, maybe you’re into jars. If you love yogurt and you love jars, this is a win-win and there’s no plastic. Maybe there’s plastic around the lid but the packaging is completely removable so you don’t have a sticker on the jar, which is another big plus. That’s the bane of your existence. If you collect jars, you always have to remove the stickers. That’s not the case with Culina. You just remove this little piece of paper. Culina also has a line of vegan coconut kefir and they’re okay. I was a little disappointed because of the size. They’re like $4, $5 or $6 and the jar is small. I was expecting like a big jar of it but it’s not the case. I had the salted caramel espresso flavor. It’s great but it wasn’t worth the price and wasn’t as exciting as this particular yogurt. The strawberry rose is my new go-to, my little yogurt splurge. Jason, what do you got for us as a favorite product?

Before I introduce my product, I want to propose an idea. What if we did an episode mukbang? It would also be on YouTube but if people didn’t want to watch YouTube or were driving, they could listen to us taste test and wax poetic about our favorite new foods. I’m going to propose an episode upcoming. If the dear reader or YouTube watcher and subscriber want us to do a live mukbang, which is essentially a taste test conversation where Whitney and I are kicking it as if we would be trying new products and tasting and talking about them, let us know. It could be fun and different.

That being said, I have been on a mission to optimize my sleep for a long time. I’ve mentioned in several previous episodes that I’ve struggled a lot with insomnia and disordered sleep. I’m always on the hunt for new natural solutions to have a deeper more restorative sleep. Being that, I came across this product. It is a line of cannabis-based edibles from a company called Pantry and they have dark chocolate edibles. I was first introduced to them that it was just a basic CBD and THC mixture, but they came out with functionally optimized edibles called Nite Bites. When you open it up, this is a great design. It comes in a glass package and there are twenty edibles per jar and they are this dark chocolate fully vegan cacao edibles. What makes these optimized for sleep? First of all, they have 5 milligrams of THC, 5 milligrams of CBN which is supposed to relax you, and 2 milligrams of CBD per piece.

It also has L-theanine, valerian root, passionflower and melatonin. I’ve been taking these. I take one about 30 minutes before bed and I’ve been sleeping so good. I’m a huge fan and I bought these myself. They were on sale at my favorite dispensary here in LA which is called Sweet Flower. I got them for 20% off. I ordered five of them and then they missed the delivery to my house and they gave me 15% on top of that. I saved 35%. If you’re in LA or you’re in Southern California and you want to get some functional cannabis hemp-based vegan edibles. They always have deals on Pantry.

MGU 220 | Male Body Dysmorphia

Body Kindness

I love this brand and it is working so well for me. I take them every single night. I can’t say enough and they taste great too. I mentioned a few of the things but this is the full ingredient list. Passion fruit flour, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, L-theanine, valerian root and passionflower extract, sunflower lecithin, melatonin and CBN, CBD, THC. It’s gluten-free, soy-free and fully vegan. Props to Pantry, I love you guys and you are saving my ass every single night.

I added that to the list. My sister is hoping to come out to visit and one of the things we have on our list is to go around and check out all the dispensaries in town. I’m not a super cannabis enthusiast, but I do appreciate CBD and occasionally an edible nice treat. I’m very grateful that we have the law on our side, at least here in California and in Massachusetts, where I’m from and my parents live. It’s very easy for me to indulge when I would like to and that looks incredible. I read a little bit more about how it’s made by award-winning chefs. It says the chef worked alongside some of the culinary world’s best Michelin starred chefs, including Thomas Keller whose chocolate we also love. If you go to their website, you can read a lot about them. They said, “Wellness is our main concern. Our top quality, healthy, low sugar premium cannabis goods have been designed by world-renowned chefs made only from the best ingredients,” so I can see why you recommend them.

I want to thank you so much for opening up this conversation, being willing to laugh about burritos and then talk seriously about your body. It‘s an important subject matter for us to explore personally and for the readers as well to reflect more on your judgments around your body and other people and know that people might be struggling a lot more than you realize, a lot of people are uncomfortable. Even you bringing up, Jason, that you felt vulnerable talking about this as if it wouldn’t matter or people wouldn’t care or it seems superficial or insignificant. Maybe a lot of other people feel the same way and that’s why they don’t share their struggles.

We want to let each of you know that this is a safe place. If you ever want to share your struggles with us publicly or privately, you can reach us easily on our website. All of our contact information is there at Wellevatr.com. You’ll find our email address and a public comment section for each of our episodes. There are also links to our social media where you can comment on posts, you can send us a direct message. That’s where most people communicate with us. We love seeing stories, some people will post little Instagram stories about the episodes that they’re enjoying, which we always appreciate and will reshare if you want to leave a review about the show as a whole, there’s information about that too. We look forward to having another episode for you. We have them every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Friday is our guest episodes. We try to bring on a diverse group of voices to represent all different types of people and that’s a huge mission of ours.

We’ve had episodes about body positivity and I would love to talk with people of all ages and all different body types too, not just like sizes, but one thing I’ve been reflecting about is things like ableism. How sometimes we’re not aware of how fortunate we are to be able to use our limbs where some people don’t have limbs. Some people don’t have legs or arms or some people have or had accidents and having more guests that are going through different things with their bodies beyond their weight and their different elements of health. We’ve had a few guests like that. You can check out all of our guests. There’s a page on our site that shows our guests. If that’s something of interest to you, you can search through them. If you ever have suggestions for topics or guests, we’d love to hear that as well. Thank you so much for reading. We’ll be back with another episode. Until then, we wish you all the very best with your health and wherever you’re at!

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